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USWNT sets up semifinal clash with Canada at Gold Cup

Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF / Getty Images Sport / Getty

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jenna Nighswonger and Jaedyn Shaw scored in the first half, and the United States rebounded from its loss to Mexico with a 3-0 victory over Colombia on Sunday night to advance to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup.

Lindsey Horan also converted a penalty in the opening minutes for the Americans, who shook off the embarrassment of their 2-0 loss to Mexico last Monday in the final game of group play. The U.S. was back in dominant form against an impressive Colombian team that reached the quarterfinals of last year’s World Cup.

The U.S. will face Canada in the Gold Cup semifinals in San Diego on Wednesday. Mexico takes on Brazil in the other semifinal after its 3-2 quarterfinal win over Paraguay earlier Sunday at BMO Stadium.

The loss to Mexico highlighted the steady decline in results for this longtime world soccer power in the past few years, including a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics and a Round-of-16 exit from last year’s World Cup. But this victory showed the current Americans still have enough talent and athleticism to turn even a tough matchup into a comfortable win — particularly when their young stars have the chance to flourish.

The impressive first-half offensive attack was highlighted by Shaw, the Americans’ 19-year-old emerging star. When she scored on a sharp pass from fellow youngster Trinity Rodman, she joined Shannon Boxx as the only players in U.S. history to score in each of their first three international starts.

The U.S. hadn’t conceded a goal to a CONCACAF opponent in its previous 33 matches before Mexico scored twice, but goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and a defense led by Naomi Girma got the Americans back to clean sheets against Colombia, with Naeher posting her 43rd shutout during a decade on the U.S. team.

A loud crowd supported the U.S.’ efforts to get back on track in Angel City FC’s home stadium just south of downtown Los Angeles, and its team was awarded an early penalty when Jorelyn Carabali took down a sprinting Alex Morgan in the 10th minute. Horan stutter-stepped before burying it for her second penalty conversion of the Gold Cup.

Both teams had a physical edge in the first half, with Morgan and Maria Usme getting matching yellow cards for a scrap during positioning. Rodman got another yellow a few minutes later for kicking at Daniela Arias in frustration over the Colombian defender’s cagey play.

Nighswonger boosted the lead to 2-0 in the 22nd minute with a strong strike resulting in the Southern California native’s second career international goal. The 23-year-old Gotham FC defender graduated from Huntington Beach High School.

Colombia increased its pressure, but Naeher made two impressive saves on shots by Real Madrid teenager Linda Caicedo.

The U.S. went up 3-0 in first-half injury time when Shaw banged home Rodman’s centering pass for her third goal of the tournament and fifth in eight career appearances. The Americans’ attack has been markedly more impressive in this tournament when the speedy, creative Shaw — who plays for San Diego’s NWSL team — is on the field.


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