Chris Clark/The Associated Press
Abby Wambach lay on her stomach, kicking the turf in pain from a freshly minted black eye. Had she been somewhere other than a soccer field, she might have responded differently to her aggressor.
Instead, she merely broke the U.S. women’s soccer record for goals at the Olympics.
Wambach’s second-half goal put her atop the all-time list Saturday as the Americans dominated feisty Colombia 3-0, guaranteeing a spot in the quarterfinals of the London Games soccer tournament.
Megan Rapinoe scored in the first half and celebrated by wishing injured teammate Ali Krieger a happy birthday, and Carli Lloyd had a late goal in her return to the starting lineup.
But niceties otherwise were few and far between in a game that included 30 fouls – with no altercation more painful than when Lady Andrade hit Wambach in the face in the 39th minute.
“I’m running toward the goal to get position, and I got sucker-punched,” said Wambach, sporting a black semicircle under her swollen right eye after the game. “It’s clear. We have it on film, so it’s up to the Olympic committee and FIFA to decide what to do.”
Wambach said Andrade kept on taunting in the second half and attempted another blow to the face – but missed and hit Wambach’s neck instead. When Wambach scored in the 74th minute to make the score 2-0, the achievement felt particularly sweet.
“Absolutely. It’s interesting – you think about yourself and what you would do on the street if somebody were to sucker-punch you,” Wambach said. “And you have all of the lists of things that you would probably do to retaliate, but this is Olympics, and I can’t risk getting a red card; I can’t risk getting a yellow card. We like to call it ‘ice’ – stay ice cold. They’re trying to get me to retaliate, and I’m proud of myself for not doing that.”
Andrade called the play an accident.
“Nothing happened,” she said through an interpreter. “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.”
Told that Wambach wants Andrade disciplined by the governing bodies, the Colombian said: “I think they should be, too, because they’re the United States. The whistle always goes in their favor. They were hitting us and hitting us, but there was never a whistle.”
Wambach looked like her younger self on her goal, sliding onto Tobin Heath’s pass to beat two defenders. The 32-year-old striker joked she was using her “blazing speed.”
“Nobody puts balls to me like that anymore,” Wambach said. “And she put it through, and I’m like, ‘I’ve got to get there.”’
It was Wambach’s sixth Olympic goal, moving her past Mia Hamm and Tiffeny Milbrett, an especially notable achievement given that Wambach missed the 2008 Games with a broken leg. It also was her second score of the tournament and her 140th career international goal, within striking range of Hamm’s world record of 158.
The Americans didn’t have the early defensive letdowns that they had against France in a 4-2 win three days earlier, but coach Pia Sundhage and the players weren’t happy with a first half in which they just couldn’t find a rhythm.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game,” goalkeeper Hope Solo said. “We needed that second goal. The speed of play was a little bit slow.”
Rapinoe’s goal came in the 33rd minute, a play set up when Alex Morgan intercepted a pass near the Colombia box.
Morgan passed to Rapinoe, whose curling 20-yarder sailed over goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda’s outstretched hand.
Lloyd scored for the second time in two games as she started in place of Shannon Boxx. Boxx injured her right hamstring in the win over France and remains day-to-day.
The U.S. has one group game remaining against North Korea in Manchester on Tuesday, a match that will help determine the semifinal pairings.