SINSHEIM, Germany – Anyone can sign autographs or pose for photos. The U.S. women found a better way to say “thank you” to the American military members who turned their World Cup match into a home game.
The U.S. advanced to the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup with a 3-0 rout of Colombia on Saturday, delighting a sellout crowd made up almost entirely of American fans. The team lined up for a military salute after Heather O’Reilly’s opening goal, and Megan Rapinoe grabbed a TV mic and sang “Born in the USA” after she scored.
“The troops came out to practice the other day, which was a fantastic environment,” said Carli Lloyd, who scored the third goal. “We thought it would be good to salute them. It was fun, something different.”
The two-time World Cup champions now play Sweden, one of two teams to beat them this year, on Wednesday in Wolfsburg to determine the Group C winner. The Americans and Sweden both have six points, but the U.S. leads the group on goal differential and can claim the top spot with a victory or a tie.
Colombia is a team on the rise, finishing fourth at the Under-20 World Cup last year. But this is its first World Cup appearance, and the youngsters were no match for the deeper, more experienced Americans. The U.S. harassed goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda relentlessly, forcing her to work more in this game than some goalkeepers will work all tournament.
She didn’t get much help from her backline, which was shredded by the speedy O’Reilly time and again.
“It’s a growing experience,” said defender Nataly Arias, who was born and raised in the Washington, D.C., area. “It was their size, their speed. They’re all big, they’re all fast, they’re all agile.”
And it could have been worse for the Colombians. The Americans missed at least a half-dozen other chances, and had a whopping 27-12 advantage in shots.
Abby Wambach missed so many chances she had little choice but to laugh at her misfortunes by the end of the game, and Rapinoe banged a shot off the crossbar.
Colombia did get four shots on goal, with its best chance coming in the 54th minute. Orianica Velasquez came in as a substitute, immediately got possession and took a shot, but Hope Solo punched it away.