It was far from a vintage performance for the U.S. Women, but the team’s 2-2 draw with Colombia gave the defending gold medalists the point needed to secure first place in Group G at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
The United States (2-0-1; 7pts) finished one point ahead of France (2-1-0; 6pts), which is also advancing to the knockout stage in second place. New Zealand (1-2-0; 3pts) finished in third and along with Colombia (0-2-1; 1pts) was eliminated from the competition.
The match at Amazonia Arena was there for the taking for the U.S., but Colombia’s continued desire to battle the current world champions and some sloppy goaltending by the usually reliable Hope Solo provided opportunity for the South American side.
In the 26th minute, Colombia took a 1-0 lead. Catalina Usme’s set piece shot dipped past the wall and found its way through the legs of Solo.
Despite trailing, the United States kept up the pressure and would equalize just before halftime. Rockville Centre’s Crystal Dunn would get her first Olympic goal after knocking in the rebound off a Carli Lloyd shot.
At the hour mark, the U.S would take the lead. Dunn would create the play with a blistering run down the left side of Colombia’s defense, where she would send in a low cross that would be gathered by Mallory Pugh. The 18-year old would show great patience as she dribbled across the box until finding an opportunity to put one past Colombian netminder Sandra Sepulveda.
It appeared as if the United States would walk off with three points, but Usme would have something to say about the result. As normal time elapsed, Usme again used a set piece and whipped in a shot from the right wing that appeared to fool Solo and hit side netting.
The U.S. will play Sweden in the quarterfinals on Friday at Mané Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia (12 p.m. ET; NBCSN).