Solo Chooses to Forget This One
by Debby von Winckelmann
From the first time that she touched the ball in these Olympic Games, US goalkeeper Hope Solo has been the target of boos and taunts from the Brazilian crowds, for the entirety of the US matches. Despite all the negativity, Solo has continued to stand tall between the posts and defend the goal flawlessly.
Solo had a couple of surprising, uncharacteristic errors, both resulting in Colombian goals and a 2-2 draw against a team that had lost both of its prior matches, had no chance of advancing, and was anticipated as an easy win for the Americans.
Colombia’s Catalina Usme sent a free kick around the wall and although it looked like Solo had it, the ball went right between her legs and into the goal, giving Colombia a 1-0 lead.
Crystal Dunn brought the US even, scoring the equalizer in the 42nd minute after Carli Lloyd’s shot was saved, but not caught by Colombian goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda. The ball ricocheted off the crossbar and to the feet of Dunn, who punched it in.
Mallory Pugh scored the go-ahead goal in the 60th minute, after Dunn sent a cross into the box. Pugh brought the ball back across the goal mouth to get some space from her defenders, then spun and put her shot into the back of the net to give the Americans the 2-1 lead.
Colombia came close to equalizing with another strong strike by Usme, but the ball hit the crossbar and the US retained its lead.
Yet, just when it looked like the US would escape with all three points, Usme stepped up to take another free kick in the 90th minute, near the right corner of the field. Solo came out and attempted to punch the ball out of danger, but missed it, and the ball landed in the far side netting, giving Colombia the 2-2 draw.
Despite Solo’s errors, the US had plenty of chances to win the games, outshooting the Colombians 16-3. But, this team continues to have a problem finishing their chances, something that was a concern during the World Cup, as well.
Christen Press had a one-on-one with Sepulveda in the 39th minute, but after chesting down the ball, was only able to get enough of her foot on it to put it right in Sepulveda’s outstretched hands. Lindsey Horan had two headers that she sent over the crossbar and Alex Morgan sent a shot wide right. Press and Pugh had the best chance with a two-on-one with Sepulveda, but instead of shooting, Press opted to pass to Pugh, who had run into an offsides position.
Coach Jill Ellis had made several changes to the starting lineup, most notably, starting Megan Rapinoe, who has not played since she tore her ACL in early December of last year.
The US seems to always find a way through the hardships, as does Solo, who is no stranger to controversy. Interviewed after the game, Solo took responsibility for her errors and appeared to remain upbeat.
“I’m choosing to have short-term memory and put this behind us,” Solo said. “Every tournament I’ve ever played in, nothing has gone perfectly.”
Despite the disappointing result against Colombia, the US came out on top of Group G today and advances to the quarterfinals to face Sweden on Friday at Mané Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia.