After a nail-biting first Olympic game against France, the United States deftly defeated their next two opponents in the group round: Colombia on Saturday and North Korea on Tuesday.
The US team met Colombia in Glasgow, Scotland in jaunty striped uniforms and winning spirit. They were every bit the strong, confidant team, keeping possession of the ball and scoring three goals to Colombia's zero.
Megan Rapinoe snagged the first goal, celebrating by pulling a sign out of her sock that read, "Happy B-day Kriegy" to player Ali Krieger. (Rapinoe never fails to entertain.) Abby Wambach followed up in her swaggering fashion, scoring her 140th international goal. Finally, Carli Lloyd captured the third and final goal of game, cutting through the Colombian defense "like a hot knife through butter," commentator Arlo White told the audience.
Despite the solid win, the game still had its share of controversy. Lady Andrade hit Abby Wambach with a sucker punch that got Andrade suspended for two games. (What an ironic first name she has!) Wambach, ever the paragon of good sportsmanship, did not retaliate.
Hope Solo could stand to learn a thing or two from Wambach. Following the game, Solo took to Twitter to criticize Brandi Chastain's NBC commentary about the team's defensive work, telling the former player to "get more educated" about the sport. It looks like Solo was trying to drum up publicity for her forthcoming memoir, but maybe I'm just being cynical.
During Tuesday's game against North Korea, the US continued to play brilliantly, beating the North Koreans 1-0. The Americans maintained control and ball possession despite the slipperiness of the Manchester United field. It was a dreary, drizzly day for soccer (or "football," as it's known around the world), but both teams put their all into the match.
Yellow cards were flying as the scrappy North Korean team fouled the US players left and right. Arlo White shed some interesting light on the mysterious team: FIFA barred them from competing in the 2015 World Cup competition after five North Korean players tested positive for steroids. North Korea's explanation for the drug use? They said the players were treated with hormones after being struck by lightning at training camp. Very strange indeed.
Just as White commented that there have been no red cards given in women's Olympic soccer so far, North Korea's Choe Mi Gyong changed all that, earning a second yellow card that culminated in a red card and dismissal from the field. And even with all that fraught fouling, they still didn't defeat their opponents.
Things ended happily for the United States, of course. Wambach scored the only goal of the game -- that's her 141st international goal, sports fans -- and celebrated with charm and humor; the team lined up, held hands and did a wave for the roaring crowd chanting "U.S.A." for the ladies.
That three-win streak should give the US women's team plenty of confidence as they head into the quarterfinals. They play New Zealand this Friday, August 3. Keep up with all the action with the new dedicated "Olympics" quicklist on the free BuddyTV Guide app!
Sarah WatsonContributing Writer(Image: NBCOlympics.com)