Norway 1-2 England
England gets their first group stage win in the history of their women's team with the help of a real banger in the 76th minute from Lucy Bronze. Norway had taken the lead in the 54th when Solveig Gulbrandsen headed home a corner from an awkward angle. The lead would only last until the 61st minute. England got their equalizer from Steph Houghton, who also scored by getting her head to a corner. England is really taking advantage of their failure to win their group. They were blessed with a favorable draw into the quarterfinals and, since Brazil fell, even into the semis. They take on Canada next, and, if they win, either Japan, Netherlands, or Australia in the semifinals. Although Japan has the inside track, I am officially calling England a possibility to play in the final.
USA 2-0 Colombia
The USA still looked like they were having trouble on the attack for the first half. The link up between the midfield and forwards was just not there, again. The Colombian defense was frustrating any attempt to get forward and create a chance. The USA took a blow in the opening 45 minutes when both Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday were both shown questionable yellow cards. It was the second of the tournament for both of them and they will each miss Friday's quarterfinal against China.
After halftime, they were able to use their speed to get to wide positions and create opportunities. Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan linked up on a long ball in the opening minute of the half that drew a penalty and straight red against Colombia's keeper Catalina Perez. Abby Wambach missed the PK, but Colombia was forced to play a woman down, which led to the USA getting a couple of goals.
Alex Morgan scored the first with a powerful shot through the backup keeper Stefany Castano. It was her first goal of this World Cup. In the 65th minute, Rapinoe earned another penalty that Carli Lloyd scored on to finish the 2-0 score.
We are yet to see what we all know the USWNT is capable of, and I am starting to wonder if it will ever show up. They won't need their best game to beat China, even without Holiday and Rapinoe, who have been the two best midfield players for the USA. However, it will take more than their best to beat Germany or France. We keep hearing how they are "yet to reach their peak" and that they are "improving with every match," but I just don't see it. The same things we complained about in the opener against Australia are still being talked about after the round of 16. I feel like I will write the same things after the quarterfinal, and again after a defeat against Germany or France in the semifinal. The USA are a great team, but I don't see them as great enough to win the World Cup this year.
Only one match tonight closes out the round of 16. Defending champions Japan take on the Netherlands. The winner moves on to play Australia. Japan is the best team left on this side of the bracket now that Brazil are gone, and they have to be considered the favorites to make the final. I like them to win 2-0 here against the Dutch.