USWNT advances to Gold Cup semifinals with 3-0 win vs. Colombia

For those wondering how the United States women’s national team would respond after a loss, well, this was exactly what one might hope for.

The U.S. dominated Colombia 3-0 on Sunday night in a CONCACAF W Gold Cup quarterfinal, and now have a date with Canada in the semifinals on Wednesday.

The Americans set the tone early after Alex Morgan was body-checked in the box and earned a penalty kick. The chippiness only intensified from there — there were seven yellow cards given out between the two sides — which is exactly what Colombia wanted. Captain Lindsey Horan nailed her penalty kick to give the squad an early 1-0 lead, and more goals came from Jenna Nighswonger and Jaedyn Shaw in the first half.

Veteran goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher made multiple massive saves to preserve a shutout in her 100th appearance for the senior national team.

“I think the intensity and we started from minute one all the way through the 90th minute,” Naeher said on the broadcast following the match. “Obviously we were disappointed in the result against Mexico and I’m just really proud of the group to regroup in such a short period of time and come out and [get] three quick goals early and set the tone. It was not an easy game. Colombia is a great team and I’m just proud of the team tonight.”

This was an important win for the U.S. coming off an inexplicable loss to Mexico a week ago. Morgan said earlier in the week that the team was able to regroup and refocus itself, and was “in a good place” heading into this matchup.

She was right — the USWNT came out on the front foot with aggression. They were feisty, intense, and confident. They played forward — as interim head coach Twila Kilgore had been talking about all week – and took advantage of their opportunities in front of the goal.

Here are a few quick takeaways from Sunday’s match:

Play of the game:

The first goal by Horan set the tone for this match.

In the 10th minute, Colombian defender Jorelyn Carabali laid Morgan out inside the box after the forward’s give and go with Horan in the build up. The referee immediately blew her whistle, Morgan picked up the ball and was quickly surrounded by Colombian players trying to play mind games with her before the penalty.

After a few minutes of the referee trying to regain control, Morgan handed the ball off to Horan. The captain calmly stepped up to the spot and nailed her shot into the bottom right corner of the net.

Turning point

The turning point of this match came late in the first half. 

First, in the 32nd minute, young Colombian superstar Linda Caceido found space between Emily Fox and Naomi Girma and got a near-banger shot off from the top of the box. Naeher made a phenomenal save, but this was the start of Las Cafeteras gaining some confidence in their attack.

Six minutes later, Carolina Arias slipped a pinpoint pass in front of the goal where Ilana Izquierdo was waiting and one-touched the ball toward the right corner of the net. Naeher got her glove on it, diving to make another miraculous save.

Eight minutes after that, Fox stepped up to win a ball near midfield, played it to Trinity Rodman down the right side, who threaded a perfect pass across the box and found a streaking Shaw who placed her one-touch shot into the back of the net. 

Shaw, who has scored goals in all three of her starts, now has five goals in a mere eight caps. Her goal on Sunday was just another example of how the 19-year-old has been impressing in her short time on the senior national team thus far.

Key stat

And speaking of Shaw, there’s a reason everybody keeps talking about the youth movement on the team. Shaw leads the team with three goals in this tournament and is actually the youngest player in team history to score a goal in a knockout round of a competitive tournament.

What’s next for the USWNT?

The USWNT will play Canada in the Gold Cup semifinal on Wednesday at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego. After six days between the last two games, the Americans only have two full days of rest before the next win-or-go home match.

On the other side of the bracket is a showdown between Brazil and Mexico. 

Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of “Strong Like a Woman,” published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.

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