USWNT-Japan draw showcases Colorado soccer roots

USWNT-Japan draw showcases Colorado soccer roots

Photos by John Babiak. Interviews/writing/video-editing by Pat Shea.

Dick’s Sporting Goods Park — In a rematch of the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final, Japan scored twice in the first 22 minutes, the U.S. Women’s National Team equalized off two Alex Morgan goals, Japan played the final 37 minutes with 10 players, Lindsey Horan put the U.S. up 3–2 in the 89th minute, and Japan scored during the final minute of stoppage time for a 3–3 friendly draw at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Thursday night.

This game was a doozy with a storyline much longer than a single sentence.*

But for Colorado soccer folks, the USWNT camp this week also included other stories about Mallory Pugh, Jaelene Hinkle, and Lindsey Horan. In this Current of Colorado video, see pictures from the game while hearing the players describe how Lorne Donaldson (Real Colorado) and Tim Schulz (Rush) deserve credit for helping them reach the highest level at a young age.

Pugh and Hinkle both played at Real Colorado where Donaldson’s club routinely produces pros and national team pool members. Pugh played the full game for head coach Jill Ellis on Thursday, but Hinkle was one of the six players from camp not included on the game-day roster. Hinkle recalled how Donaldson helped convert her to an outside back.

Horan credited Schulz for helping her make the leap from Colorado Rush to a pro career in France instead of college. Now at the core of a NWSL-elite Portland team (along with five other Thorns in camp), Horan pulled out of a training game with an injury earlier in the week but rallied to step on the field for the last half-hour and score a go-ahead goal in the 89th minute.

Japan equalized in the final minute of stoppage time, and the ultimate storyline ends in irony. Ellis emphasized how all her efforts for the team point to the Olympics this summer. Japan did not qualify for Brazil, but they played like they already mastered the kinds of lessons that Ellis hoped her players learned during the 3–3 comeback draw. Japan jumped to a 2–0 lead, kept discipline at 2–2, lost discipline from a player in the 57th minute, remain organized defensively with 10 players, and finally equalized short-handed.

 * At 1,000 words apiece, the following shots from John Babiak make up a complete essay from a few training sessions and game-day action at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Thursday night.

 Former Colorado club players Jaelene Hinkle (Real Colorado), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado), and Lindsey Horan (Colorado Rush) have become regulars at the top of the USWNT talent pool. Photo by John Babiak.

Former Colorado club players Jaelene Hinkle (Real Colorado), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado), and Lindsey Horan (Colorado Rush) have become regulars at the top of the USWNT talent pool. Photo by John Babiak.

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After getting the ball from Mizuho Sakaguchi, Mana Iwabuchi (16) starts a run with a few step-overs and fires a lefty far post for the 1–0 lead in the 14th minute. Photo sequence by John Babiak.

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Connecting with a pass from Emi Nakajima, Yuki Ogimi (9) slides to score in the 22nd minute. Photo sequence by John Babiak.

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After receiving a caution in the 39th minute and another in the 57th, the ejected Ogimi gave the captain’s armband to Sonoko Chiba (8), who passed it off to Mizuho Sakaguchi (10) when Rika Masuya replaced Chiba in the 62nd minute. Photo by John Babiak.

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After receiving the ball from Crystal Dunn, Malory Pugh races up the right wing and cuts the ball back on the ground to Alex Morgan. Photo sequence by John Babiak.

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Alex Morgan scores again to equalize 2–2 in the 64th minute off a Tobin Heath cross. Photo sequence by John Babiak.

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Lindsey Horan gets on the end of a Kelley O’Hara cross and scores the go-ahead goal in the 89th minute. Photo sequence by John Babiak.

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After playing with 10 for the final third of the game, Japan equalized in the final minute of stoppage time. Photo by John Babiak.

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