|At the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 / More than 50,000 fans --|
mostly Americans -- cheer on Team USA against Nigeria at B.C. Place
in Vancouver, B.C., Canada on June 16.
The United States national football team advanced to the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 quarterfinals with a 2-0 victory Monday evening over Colombia. The Americans wore down an inferior opponent, Las Chicas Superpoderosas as the Columbians are nicknamed, which played much of the second half with just 10 players, in this elimination-round match at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta.
The U.S. victory was a bit of a mixed-bag performance just like its other wins earlier in the month-long World Cup tournament being contested across the Canadian provinces from New Brunswick back east to British Columbia out west. I had the pleasure of witnessing Team USA's 1-0 triumph over Nigeria last week in Vancouver, B.C., with my wife and our longtime friends from Seattle, along with more than 50,000 -- mostly American -- football enthusiasts.
On Friday, the second-ranked Americans will face China for the first time at a World Cup since the July 1999 final, when Brandi Chastain buried a penalty kick at the Rose Bowl that brought the U.S its most recent title. Although the U.S. has dominated China in recent years -- undefeated in 24 matches dating to 2003 -- it hasn't escaped the shadow of 1999, a 16-year drought in which the Americans haven't managed to win another World Cup.
|Megan Rapinoe / Team USA's midfielder|
arguably has been their best player, but
will miss Friday's quarterfinal against China.
With 25 years' worth of World Cup experience on its roster, one thing Team USA has going for it is a stingy defense anchored by the outstanding play of goal keeper Hope Solo. For all the well-documented problems related to domestic violence she's faced off the field, on it she's been steady and focused, not surrendering a goal in the past 333 minutes since early in the first game against Australia.
|Hope Solo / |
Team USA's controversial goal keeper has not allowed
a goal in over 300 minutes. She has recorded three
consecutive shut outs.
Hopefully, the U.S. can find an offensive spark against China on Friday in Ottawa. Alex Morgan has shown much promise since returning from an injury, and she scored one of the two U.S. goals against Colombia. There's not much room for error and, going forward, it's survival of the fittest. After all, the stakes have increased.
|Team USA's Abby Wambach / "We're still a work in progress."|
Wambach added: "We're still a work in progress. I don't want to be peaking until we're standing on that top podium at the end of the tournament. That is the moment when everything comes together, when everything fits."
Now, it's win and go on or lose and go home for the Americans.
A postscript: On June 26 in Ottawa, Ontario, a Carli Lloyd header in the 51st minute enabled Team USA to beat China 1-0 and advance to next Tuesday's semifinal against top-seeded Germany. Earlier Friday in Montréal, Quebec, the top-seeded Germans prevailed over France on penalty kicks (5-4) after playing to a scoreless tie in overtime.
A second postscript: On Tuesday night in Montréal, Quebec, Carli Lloyd scored on a second-half penalty kick and assisted on another goal as Team USA defeated top-seeded Germany 2-0 to advance to Sunday's championship match. The U.S., which has not given up a goal in the past 513 minutes of World Cup play, will face Japan. It is a rematch of the 2011 championship game in Germany, in which Japan won on penalty kicks after playing to a 2-2 draw. The U.S. owns a 21-4-6 advantage over Japan.
A final postscript: A stunning first-half hat trick by Carli Lloyd in the game's first 16 minutes enabled the U.S. to beat rival Japan 5-2 to secure the 2015 Women's World Cup championship. It was the third World Cup title for the U.S. and first since 1999.
All photos by Michael Dickens © 2015.