Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Minus Two Top Players, Can Team USA Beat China in the Women's World Cup?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Minus Two Top Players, Can Team USA Beat China in the Women's World Cup?

Article excerpt

As if the competition wasn't stiff enough, Team USA will be down two key players going into the quarterfinals against China on Friday in the Women's World Cup.

In a 2-0 win over Colombia Monday to start the knockout round, Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe of the US both committed fouls, each earning their second yellow card of the tournament, which mandates automatic suspensions for the team's next game.

Ms. Holiday's foul came first, in the seventeenth minute. Her attack on Colombia's Yoreli Rincon drew the card from the referee after Ms. Rincon fell to the ground. Holiday hardly flinched when the call was made, though she knew it meant she would be out for the next game if the team advanced.

"I didn't think about it the rest of the game," Holiday told ESPN after the game. "It was unfortunate that it happened, and I think it was a weak yellow card, in my opinion. But I think we have a great team, [and] we have a lot of people that can step up."

Holiday played out the next 73 minutes with intense focus, eventually creating a play early in the second half off an aggressive steal that led to forward Alex Morgan getting fouled by Colombian goalie Catalina Perez, who received a red card from the referee and was ejected from the match.

Though Abby Wambach failed to capitalize on the penalty kick, Colombia had to play down one player for the remainder of the game because of the red card, which completely shifted the dynamic of play in Team USA's favor.

In the first half, Ms. Rapinoe drew five fouls. But when she ran into Colombia forward Orianica Velasquez in the second half, she received her second yellow card and her fate was sealed for the next game.

Rapinoe, just like Holiday, stayed focused even after the foul was called.

"I knew [it meant missing the next game], of course," Rapinoe told ESPN. "You can't change too much how you play. …

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