U.S. women salute military, clobber Colombia in World Cup

July 3, 2011


— Anyone can sign autographs or pose for photos. The U.S. women found a better way to say “thank you” to the American military members who turned their World Cup match into a home game.

The U.S. advanced to the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup with a 3-0 rout of Colombia on Saturday, delighting a sellout crowd made up almost entirely of American fans. The team lined up for a military salute after Heather O’Reilly’s opening goal, and Megan Rapinoe grabbed a TV mic and sang “Born in the USA” after she scored.

“The troops came out to practice the other day, which was a fantastic environment,” said Carli Lloyd, who scored the third goal. “We thought it would be good to salute them. It was fun, something different.”

The two-time World Cup champions now play Sweden, one of two teams to beat them this year, Wednesday in Wolfsburg to determine the Group C winner. The Americans and Sweden each have six points, but the U.S. leads the group on goal differential and can claim the top spot with a victory or a tie.

Colombia is a team on the rise, finishing fourth at the Under-20 World Cup last year. But this is its first World Cup appearance, and the youngsters were no match for the deeper, more experienced Americans. The U.S. harassed goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda relentlessly, forcing her to work more in this game than some goalkeepers will work all tournament.

She didn’t get much help from her backline, which was shredded by the speedy O’Reilly time and again.

“It’s a growing experience,” said defender Nataly Arias, who was born and raised in the Washington, D.C., area. “It was their size, their speed. They’re all big, they’re all fast, they’re all agile.”

And it could have been even worse for the Colombians. The Americans missed at least a half-dozen other chances, and had a whopping 27-12 advantage in shots. Abby Wambach missed so many chances she had little choice but to laugh at her misfortunes by the end of the game, and Rapinoe banged a shot off the crossbar.

Colombia did get four shots on goal, with their best chance coming in the 54th minute. Orianica Velasquez came in as a substitute, immediately got possession and took a shot, but Hope Solo punched it away.

“It’s a tough loss for us, obviously,” Arias said. “At the same time, I feel proud of what we did in this game.”

Tour de France

Gilbert claims first stage

Mont des Alouettes, France — Philippe Gilbert won the first stage of the Tour de France on Saturday to take the yellow jersey, while defending champion Alberto Contador lost more than a minute because of a late crash.

The Belgian Gilbert, who dazzled fans by winning three classics races in April, sped ahead from the pack in the final several hundred yards and kissed his jersey as he crossed the line.

“It was the last 500 meters, I had a lead ... (and) I went for it,” Gilbert said. “It was an extreme effort and I was able to take advantage.”

Gilbert, who has notched 13 victories between race and stage wins this year, had been a favorite to win the opening stage.

He clocked 4 hours, 41 minutes, 31 seconds for the sun-baked 119-mile ride from La Barre-de-Monts to Mont des Alouettes in the western Vendee region.

Two-time Tour runner-up Cadel Evans of Australia was second, three seconds back — making him the best performer among the expected title contenders. Thor Hushovd of Norway was third, six seconds off the pace.

The 2,131-mile race ends July 24 on Paris’ Champs-Elysees. It’s shaping up as a battle among riders like Contador and last year’s runner-up Andy Schleck of Luxembourg. Three-time champion Contador, a Spaniard, beat Schleck by just 39 seconds last year.

However, they both ran into trouble toward the end of the stage on Saturday.


Jeter gets hit in rehab start

Trenton, N.J. — Derek Jeter took the first step in his return to the New York Yankees from a calf strain, going 1-for-2 with a walk and cleanly fielding five balls at shortstop in five innings for Double-A Trenton on Saturday.

Jeter will play one more rehabilitation game with the Thunder on Sunday night and likely will be in the Yankees’ lineup Monday in Cleveland, where he will continue his pursuit of 3,000 hits.

“The plan is to get him there Monday in Cleveland if everything goes right,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “Yeah, I’d think he’d play Monday.”


Fowler, Watney lead AT&T;

Newtown Square, Pa. — Before he even teed off, Rickie Fowler knew this was going to be a different day at the AT&T; National. The course record already had been matched, with several other low rounds in progress at suddenly soft Aronimink Golf Club.

One thought crossed his mind: Go time.

That’s the message Fowler always puts on Twitter right before he plays, and off he went. He birdied six of his opening 10 holes — and missed two other chances inside 10 feet. He wound up with a 6-under 64 on Saturday and a share of the lead with Nick Watney, who set the course record with a 62 — shooting 27 on the back nine.

That broke the record of 63 that Steve Marino had about 20 minutes earlier. Marino had matched the record that Chris Kirk posted about an hour before that.

Fowler and Watney were at 9-under 201, one shot ahead of 36-hole leader K.J. Choi (69).

Lu, Cook 1-2 at Champions

Blainville, Quebec — Taiwan’s Lu Chien-soon shot a 9-under 63 to match the course record and take a one-stroke lead over John Cook after the second round of the Champions Tour’s Montreal Championship.


Sporting KC keeps rolling

Portland, Ore. — C.J. Sapong and Aurelien Collin scored first-half goals and Sporting Kansas City extended its unbeaten streak to eight MLS games Saturday night in a 2-1 victory over Portland.


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