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Johnston solid again as Chalupny, Press enter in second half to help fend off Colombia

By Gunnar Berndt 

Round of 16: USA vs. Colombia 2-0
Red Stars: Julie Johnston (DEF), Lori Chalupny (MID-DEF), Shannon Boxx (MID), Christen Press (FWD) – all USA

Center back Julie Johnston put in another strong 90-minute shift in the round of 16 to help the Americans to their third consecutive shutout in a hard-fought 2-0 win over Colombia. Meanwhile, striker Christen Press and defender-midfielder Lori Chalupny entered in the 76th and 82nd minutes, respectively, with Chicago captain Chalupny earning her first minutes of the 2015 World Cup. With legendary midfielder Shannon Boxx also on the gameday roster, her fellow Red Stars did well to help fend off fiery Colombians who provided their favored opponents with a stern test.

U.S. forward Abby Wambach thought she had scored in the opening minute when she slid to tap home the rebound following an excellent Gatalina Perez save on a low drive by Tobin Heath, but the flag had been correctly raised for offside. Columbia’s goalkeeper would deny Wambach once more, producing a solid block to keep out the 35-year-old’s powerful volley from the edge of penalty area. Chicago’s Johnston also tried her luck on the attack, but the Arizona native’s rocket whistled high, followed by an opportunity for several American players on a corner kick that had the ball ending up in the side netting.

Perez sprang into action yet again to tip a downward header from Alex Morgan over the crossbar before several promising Columbia attacks failed to seriously test Stars and Stripes netminder Hope Solo, setting the stage for the U.S. Women to take over and tilt the match in their direction. When a through ball from midfield saw Perez rush off her line and take down Morgan, the play resulted in a direct red card for denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and a penalty kick to the Red White and Blue, which was blasted wide of the left post by Wambach to keep the scores level.

The Americans did grab the lead in the 53rd minute, a nice one-touch pass by Ali Krieger putting Morgan through on the right and the forward surprising Stefany Castano with a slightly mishit centering ball that ricocheted off the substitute goalkeeper’s arm and snuck inside the near post. Carli Lloyd would seal the deal for Head Coach Jill Ellis’ side 13 minutes late, sending Castano the wrong way from the penalty spot following an Angela Clavijo foul on Megan Rapinoe.

Next up for the U.S. Women is a rematch of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup final, as Johnston, Press, Chalupny, Boxx and company take on China in the quarterfinals on Friday, June 26, at 6:30 p.m. CT.

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