USWNT win over Colombia can’t mask struggles in front of goal ahead of start of World Cup qualifying


Had there been any real stakes in Tuesday’s final tune-up match for the CONCACAF W Championship, the United States Women’s National Team’s 2-0 win over Colombia would have been ripe for dissection.

The United States controlled the game as usual, but that didn’t translate into many good chances in what was a generally disappointing performance considering the team’s high standards.

It would have been fair to question the root of these offensive woes or consider possible solutions. But context matters. Playing against Colombia for the second time in four days, with a heavily rotated roster who don’t have much experience playing together, was never going to be a valid indicator of what to expect when the team tries. to qualify for the Women’s World Cup starting next week. This game was more about giving individuals game time and gaining final data that coach Vlatko Andonovski will use when the team starts playing in earnest.

“I don’t think there’s any frustration,” Andonovski said. “It’s actually a really good learning opportunity for us.”

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USA’s first goal was a gift in the 22nd minute. Right-back Sofia Huerta attempted to fire in a cross from the edge of the box and it deflected Colombian defender Manuela Vanegas cleanly into the net to give the United States the lead. It was the fifth own goal by an American opponent this year, the most ever conceded by opponents in a calendar year in program history.

It was the only celebratory moment in the first half, despite veteran forwards Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe returning to the starting lineup for the first time since October – a nine-game span for each. They were joined by Midge Purce up front, but the trio struggled to break Colombia’s compact defense – as they did in the first half against Colombia on Saturday, when the United States were held without goal before finally winning 3-0. Andonovski does not seem deterred.

“No, not at all. I thought [the forwards] did a very good job,” he said. “In a game like this, when the strikers are sometimes surrounded by four or five players, it’s hard to find them. Just the fact that Alex had a very good chance to score. She sent a nice ball to Sophia for the first goal. I thought it was positive.

“It’s little things we look at, individual performances in certain situations. We can’t rate a player for 90 minutes. We’re going to have to look at specific moments and how we can replicate those moments in the next game.”

A lightning strike in the box resulted in a 45-minute delay in the 75th minute. After the clock cleared, Kelley O’Hara, who came on as a substitute, had her own strike, sending a bouncing ball into the side netting for just her third international goal in 155 caps.

Perhaps more than anything, the game will be remembered as the international debut of defender Carson Pickett, who became the first player with a limb difference to appear for the United States. The 28-year-old North Carolina Courage player, born without part of his left arm, is the oldest American player to debut since McCall Zerboni (30) in 2017.

“Carson did very well in training for us last week and with the management of the Emily Fox minutes we had we thought Carson would be a good replacement and I’m glad she was able to perform well. for 90 minutes,” Andonovski said.

Pickett will not be with the team for the W Championship, during which the team is limited to a roster of 23 players. Andonovski wore 26 for the friendlies against Colombia with Jaelin Howell, Sam Coffey and Pickett as three extras.

“The two games [against Colombia] were very good for us because that was the type of game we were probably going to have, or the type of opponent we were going to face in the CONCACAF championship,” Andonovski said. “It was physical and very tight and it was good for us to prepare for it.”

The United States will open the tournament – which serves as the main qualifier for the 2023 World Cup and the 2024 Summer Olympics – on Monday against Haiti. His group of four teams also includes Mexico and Jamaica.

The first two of each of the two groups will qualify for the World Cup, and the winner of the tournament will punch his Olympic ticket. The third in the group can qualify for the World Cup through the Intercontinental Qualifiers and the second and third places overall will have the opportunity to qualify for the Olympics in the CONCACAF Olympic Play-Off Series in 2023.

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