Posted on July 29, 2012
By Michael Lewis
GLASGOW — After getting punched on the right side of her face, U.S. striker Abby Wambach decided to turn the other cheek.
It turned out to be the correct decision and went a long way in the team registering a 3-0 Group G win over Colombia in the Olympic women’s soccer tournament on Saturday.
The victory lifted the Americans (2-0-0, six points) into the quarterfinals with an opportunity to clinch the group with a win over North Korea in Manchester on Tuesday. The Koreans (1-1-0, three) lost to France here on Saturday, 5-0. The Americans need only a tie to clinch the group crown and stay away from the likes of Japan that early in the knockout round.
Wambach was sucker punched by Colombia forward Lady Andrade in the 39th minute, falling to the Hampden Park ground in pain. She suffered a black right eye.
Instead of retaliating with her fists, the veteran striker used her head, or better yet, her feet, striking for the insurance goal in the 74th minute.
Asked if the goal made her felt better, Wambach replied, “Absolutely.”
“It’s interesting because you think about what you would do on the street if somebody would sucker punch you,” she added. “You would have all of the lists of things you would probably do to retaliate. But this is the Olympics. I can’t risk getting a red card, can’t risk getting a yellow card. We like to call it ice. Stay ice cold. They’re trying to get me to retaliate. I’m proud of myself for not doing that.
“She was taunting me the whole second half. She tried to punch me again in the second half in the face. She didn’t connect. She got me in the neck.”
The incident occurred six minutes after Rapinoe scored off a 20-yard effort in the 33rd minute.
While running, the 5-11 Wambach, who had five inches on her opponent, was punched in the right eye by Andrade, but referee Thalia Mitsi (Greece) and her crew did not call a phone, let allow give out a yellow or red card.
“I’ve never been sucker punched in my life, let alone in a soccer match,” Wambach said. “So, I’m not very pleased with the fact that actually happened in an Olympic event.
“It was tactics of theirs to slow the game down, do whatever they can to try to get us off their game. FIFA and the Olympic Committee should look at the film and see what really happened. I’m glad that a black eye is the only thing that really came out of that game in terms of an injury.”
It was a physical game. The U.S. was called for 19 fouls, Colombia 11.
Midfielder Carli Lloyd said the Colombians “had an edge to them. They’re really good on the ball. We had to make sure that we kept moving, but they’re a South American team and that’s how they roll. We didn’t let it affect us.”
Andrade? She claimed she was innocent, although replays showed otherwise.
“Nothing happened,” she said. “It was just a normal part of the game. We were both running. She ran across me and we collided. I had my hands in the air. It was an accident.”
The Americans did not buy that.
“She got full on punched,” said goalkeeper Hope Solo, who had a relatively easy time while registering the shutout. “I hope their No. 16 doesn’t get back on the field because it wasn’t nice and no player should have to go through that when she wasn’t even looking. All of us at halftime were pretty upset about it.”
Andrade did not like the fact that several U.S. players called for her to be sanctioned. In fact, she felt the soccer boot was on the other foot.
“They should be [disciplined], too, but because they’re the United States, the whistle always goes in their favor,” she said. “They were hitting us and hitting us but there was never a whistle.”
Wambach got some revenge by scoring her 140th international goal, a 10-yard shot from the right side of the penalty area off a Tobin Heath feed. The tally also was her American-record sixth Olympic goal, breaking a tie with Mia Hamm and Tiffey Milbrett.
Wambach joked about how she scored. “Blazing speed,” she said.
Then she got serious.
“Tobin put a ball through that she usually puts through to Alex [Morgan],” Wambach said. “I was thinking to myself, nobody puts balls through to me like anymore. Usually I am faced up, my back to goal. She put it through and I was like, I’ve got to get there.”
Wambach was far from a one-woman show.
Megan Rapinoe, who is enjoying a marvelous Olympics (one goal, four assists), boosted the Americans into the lead off a well-placed 20-yard shot in the 33rd minute
Lloyd, who tallied the game-winner in the 4-2 win over France on Tuesday, closed out the scoring in the 77th minute, connecting from 10 yards.
Photo: Abby Wambach turned the other cheek and did not retaliate before scoring her 140th career goal. Andy Mead/YCJ
Categories: North America, Olympic Qualifying, U.S.A., Women
Tags: 2012 London Olympics, Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, Lady Andrade, Megan Rapinoe, Thalia Mitsi