Despite a shocking 2-2 draw against Colombia on Tuesday night, the U.S. National Team took the first step to winning its fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal in women’s soccer.
Former Tar Heel standout Crystal Dunn scored the first goal in Tuesday’s game and then assisted on the second, highlighting the presence that the UNC program has over the current roster–with five of the 18 active members of the team having played their college careers in Chapel Hill.
Midfielder Tobin Heath has yet to score a goal in Rio, but has used her amazing passing and ball control to act as a conductor out on the pitch. She also picked up an assist to Carli Lloyd in each of the first two games against New Zealand and France.
Meghan Klingenberg and Whitney Engen were rock-solid in defense in USA’s 1-0 win over France, but the pair has been split up in the other two games as head coach Jill Ellis uses a rotating cast on the back line.
Midfielder Allie Long did a fine job as a starter in the first two games, before coming on as a substitute midway through the second half against Colombia.
Having now qualified for the quarterfinals as a result of their group victory, these former Tar Heels and their teammates will now face Sweden on Friday night.
The game will be a reunion of sorts as former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage–who led the country to the gold medal during the 2012 Olympics in London–is now leading her home nation.
Whether the U.S. continues its winning ways or falls victim to a stunning upset, the influence of the UNC program will still loom large.