USA Women's Olympic Soccer: 6 Reasons to Fear Colombia
The USA women were successful, yesterday, in their efforts to defend their consecutive gold medals against France (winning 4-2), but they now move on to face Colombia on Saturday, July 28th.
The U.S. will have an opponent that will not be rated highly among the commentators.
Yet they will do this at their own peril.
The Colombians will present a stiffer test than most American-centric observers can imagine.
In the end, Team USA certainly has more than enough fire power to carve out a victory, but here are some reasons why they should not look past their Colombian counterparts.
Sometimes there are significant drawbacks to being a young team.
Inexperience can lead to volatile team chemistry, an inability to rebound from setbacks or more simply a tendency to be intimidated.
In this game, however, the Colombian youth might be an asset. The roster has only two players over the age of 26.
Inexperience stands to be a reason not to be overawed. As has happened so many times, the youthful team might be too naive to realize the full circumstances of facing a team of all-stars.
And that attitude might be what they need to pull off a shocker.
This would be a classic misstep by Team USA.
Having just vanquished one of the tougher opponents that they will face in the tournament, the U.S. must be brimming with confidence.
And it wouldn't be the first time that a team of such quality fell victim to hubris.
After ripping four consecutive goals to destroy the French, the U.S. attack might get an exaggerated view of its capabilities.
And I'm confident that this might happen because...
...History is actually on the side of Colombia (sort of).
Dating all the way back to the 2000 Sydney games, no American women's soccer team has ever advanced out of the group stages completely unscathed.
With either a tie or a loss occurring once in each of the group stages in the last three Olympics, it's clear that the U.S. would have to buck a historic trend to avoid dropping potential points in the next game.
Obviously there's no guarantee that this will happen again (or that it will happen against Colombia).
Yet no one should be looking at all of the USA group games and dismissing them as clear-cut victories waiting to happen.
Colombia on the Rise
South American soccer is a force to be reckoned with, regardless of whether it's men's or women's.
Granted, most of the women's power lies in Brazil, but Colombia has begun its ascent.
They qualified for the World Cup for the first time last year.
And, more impressively, they finished as runners-up in the 2010 South American Women's Football Championship after losing out to Brazil.
Much of their team plays either professionally or at U.S. universities, giving them a competitive advantage over other teams in the tournament.
The USA defense has talent, no doubt.
Yet, as France proved quickly in the first game, the American defense is not impregnable.
Far from it, in fact.
Against a young, quick Colombian team, the U.S. defenders will have their hands full.
And if the South Americans smell even the least bit of indecision or sluggishness, they will pounce.
Overreliance on Alex Morgan
The Californian native has propelled Team USA in the recent months.
Since announcing herself on the world stage at last year's World Cup, Morgan has moved closer and closer to the center of the team.
In fact, it could be said that the team relies a little too much on Morgan.
Her two goals against France were critical.
And unless other players on the squad (like Abby Wambach) get going in earnest, it could be easy for opposing teams to shut down USA offense.
Just double No. 13.