The United States women’s national team defeated Colombia 3-0 on Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. The USWNT are now undefeated in 13 games against South American opponents. The match was the first of two friendlies against Las Cafeteras as the USWNT utilize the international window as final prep for the upcoming Concacaf W Championship in Monterrey, Mexico in July on Paramount+.
Colorado native Sophia Smith scored a brace, and Taylor Kornieck scored in her national team debut. Alex Morgan won a penalty during the second half and Megan Rapinoe recorded an assist as the two veterans made their national team returns after an eight month absence.
USWNT break through but it takes 55 minutes
As expected, the USWNT faced a low block by Colombia, forcing the team to try and unlock a conservative defensive shape early. However, Colombia’s back four also featured a surprising wrinkle, with a sweeper behind the line, adding a layer of unpredictability to the mix early in the match.
Through the first half hour the USWNT lead in all the offensive stats, with seven shots to Colombia’s zero, but none of them truly tested Colombia goalkeeper Catalina Perez. Smith was active in attack though and that led to a foul in the box, giving the USWNT a chance to breakthrough just before halftime, but a low, hard penalty from Lindsey Horan was saved by Perez.
After halftime, head coach Vlatko Andonovski made adjustments, bringing on Morgan and Ashley Sanchez in place of Ashley Hatch and Horan. The impact was immediate as Morgan’s presence began to draw more players to her, giving the midfield more open space and opportunities to break the lines with incisive passes.
The opening goal eventually came just ahead of the hour mark, as Rose Lavelle won the ball and fed a long pass to Smith on a run into the box with her shot deflecting off the goalkeeper and in.
Smith extended the lead for the team just six minutes later, after another forced turnover by Lavelle. Smith now has six goals for the national team, with five scored in 2022.
Veteran players make their presence felt
The U.S. extended the score once more time as midfielder Taylor Kornieck made her national team debut. Megan Rapinoe provided the assist off a free kick, and the 6’1 Kornieck headed the ball through for the final goal of the evening.
The goal is a first for Kornieck, and the assist is Rapinoe’s first in 2022. Rapinoe and Morgan’s return are significant Andonovski had chosen to expand the player poor ahead of qualifiers, giving a bunch of young players their first looks in the squad, and is now integrating the two veterans back into the group.
And they both contributed. In addition to Rapinoe’s assists, Morgan’s role drawing attention to herself led to her drawing a penalty in the second half in the 69th minute though Lavelle’s attempt to convert came up short as Perez made a second penalty stop.
“I’m happy to get some minutes. I got in behind quite a bit, drew the penalty, but overall I think it just opened up more in the second half in general. So I think I had more space to play as well,” Morgan said of her performance after the game.”
The test the USWNT wanted
As the USWNT prepare to enter their World Cup qualifiers in July, they will do so as the number one ranked team in the world and as reigning Concacaf W Champions. They may expect to committed, conservative defensive shapes and various teams playing low blocks throughout their tournament.
“We don’t know what we’re gonna see [in qualifiers],” Morgan said. “Obviously, you know, we might have teams who kind of sit off us. We might have teams to come at us straight up. It’s a good preparation tool for us against Colombia twice. You know, them kind of having a five back, and really sitting back, and kind of not allowing us to play through them. You know, we might see that. So, it’s just a great game for us in preparation.”
The USWNT will face Colombia once more on Tuesday, June 28 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Andonovski and his squad will then head to Monterrey, Mexico to face off against Mexico, Jamaica, and Haiti in their Group A stage of the Concacaf W Championship.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism