USWNT rebounds from humbling loss, defeats Colombia in Concacaf W Gold Cup quarterfinal

Lindsey Horan (10) reacts after scoring a goal on a penalty kick against Colombia during the Concacaf W Gold Cup quarterfinal at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles.
Lindsey Horan (10) reacts after scoring a goal on a penalty kick against Colombia during the Concacaf W Gold Cup quarterfinal at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles.

The U.S. women’s national team isn’t quite dead yet.

After one of its worst performances in years, the USWNT bounced back to throttle Colombia, 3-0, in the Concacaf W Gold Cup quarterfinals on Sunday night.

The days of the U.S. dominating the world game are clearly over, but even its ability to cast aside mid-level teams was thrown into question after last week's well-deserved 2-0 defeat against Mexico.

Unsurprisingly, interim head coach Twila Kilgore made wholesale changes after that loss. Just five of the 11 players who started against Mexico also began the match against Colombia, with several longtime mainstays making way for younger blood.

Out went the likes of Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn, Rose Lavelle, Lynn Williams and even Sophia Smith.

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In their place came a several players who have only just begun their USWNT journeys, but already look like building blocks for the future.

And while the like of Jenna Nighswonger, Jaedyn Shaw and Korbin Albert all left their mark on this match, the USWNT’s resurgent performance can’t all be chalked up to the new faces.

Alyssa Naeher and Alex Morgan — two players many have called on to be phased out in recent years — were among the USWNT’s top performers on the night, showing the youth movement still needs a bit of veteran savvy sprinkled in.

The USWNT was up 2-0 within 22 minutes, and Morgan played a vital role on both goals. First, the forward won the ball high up the pitch before drawing the foul that led to Lindsey Horan opening the scoring from the penalty spot.

Then there was some textbook target forward play to set up Nighswonger for an inch-perfect finish to double the USWNT’s lead.

The USWNT’s high press was in full effect against the World Cup quarterfinalists, helping them put the game to bed just before halftime. This time it was Emily Fox who won the ball upfield, leading to a fine cross from Trinity Rodman and finish from Shaw.

The USWNT managed to hold out for the rest of the game without any injuries or red cards — something of an accomplishment in a match that was chippy from start to finish and featured seven yellow cards.

The USWNT will now face Canada on Wednesday in the semifinals, with the winner of that match taking on either Mexico or Brazil in the final.

Though the USWNT clearly wants to win the Gold Cup, it also has served as a fact-finding tournament as the Olympics comes closer into focus. Whether or not the U.S. takes home the Gold Cup title, one thing is already clear: For some of the team’s younger stars, the future is now.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: USWNT defeats Colombia to reach Concacaf W Gold Cup semis: Highlights