Alex Morgan (white jersey) will be key to the USA's fortunes in the knockout rounds of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
EDMONTON, Canada – After navigating its way to the top of the “Group of Death,” the United States will face Colombia in a round of 16 encounter on Monday at Commonwealth Stadium.
Here are Three Points to consider ahead of the game:
1) Knockout Time
It’s win or go home for both the United States and Colombia on Monday. After topping Group D with seven points, the U.S. heads into the round of 16 clash riding a 12-match unbeaten streak. After claiming three points in their tournament opener against Australia, the Stars & Stripes were less convincing in their second group stage fixture, a 0-0 draw with Sweden. Fighting off some early offensive struggles, the American attack showed signs of increasing cohesion in a 1-0 win over Nigeria as Abby Wambach volleyed home the game-winning goal.
2) A puncher’s chance
Colombia is a dangerous team. After finishing the 2014 Copa America Femenina (CONMEBOL’s World Cup Qualifying competition) as the tournament’s only unbeaten squad, Las Cafeteras have since taken Canada by storm. A sparkling last-minute equalizer from Daniela Montoya preserved a draw in the team’s World Cup opener against Mexico, followed by a stunning 2-0 victory over pre-tournament favorite France in their second group stage match. Although the Colombians then stumbled in their final Group F outing against England, 1-0, they were still able to secure a place in the tournament’s knockout stages as one of the four best third-place finishers. Solid in almost every facet of the game, the Cafeteras are particularly reliant on the scoring exploits of Lady Andrade and the midfield play of Yoreli Rincon.
3) Can the U.S. find another gear?
It was mission accomplished for the Stars & Stripes in group play. However, if they are going to make a seventh straight trip to a World Cup semifinal, head coach Jill Ellis and company will again need to elevate their game. While the team’s back line has been world class, the American attack has sputtered at times, managing just two goals in three Group D matches. Buoying the USA’s hopes for an offensive resurgence has been the recent return of 2013 CONCACAF Player of the Year Alex Morgan. After a lengthy return from injury, the 25-year-old appears to be nearing full-fitness, totaling 89 minutes of play in three World Cup matches