By BRYAN ROBISON
The U.S. Women's national team punched their ticket to the Olympic quarterfinals after winning their second consecutive preliminary match, with a 3-0 win over Colombia on Saturday.
Unlike like their first preliminary match against France on Wednesday, which saw the United States women have to overcome a slow start, there was no such struggle against Colombia. After falling to a 2-0 defecit to the French within the first fifteen minutes and having to fight back to power their way to a 4-2 win, it did not take long in their second match to cease control.
Megan Rapinoe was the star of the show, scoring the opening goal with a long-range strike before setting up the final goal of the match to seal the USA's second straight victory.
Rapinoe knocked in the first goal of her Olympic career in the 33rd minute when she curled a 20-yard shot into the net. She celebrated the goal by sending a birthday message to teammate Ali Krieger, who turned 28 years old Saturday. Krieger was unable to join her fellow teammates for the Olympics due to a knee injury she suffered in January.
In the second half, Abby Wambach avenged an earlier foul that should have sent off Colombian Lady Andrade, who seemed to clearly punch the American forward. The referees did not see the infraction, however, and Colombia was able to continue with a full squad. Wambach ended up being the one punishing the Colombians, as she put the match out of hand with a second American goal with just fifteen minutes left to play.
Carli Lloyd continued her strong start to the tournament, as she scored the third goal of the match, and her second in two games. The midfielder was a member of the starting lineup after Shannon Boxx was ruled out for the match due to a hamstring injury.
Colombia will take on France in Newcastle on Tuesday, with both squads likely fighting for their tournament lives. The American women will travel to Manchester on Tuesday to take on North Korea, who defeated Colombia 2-0 last Wednesday.