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Three takeaways from USWNT’s win vs. Colombia: Sophia Smith shines

Sophia Smith celebrates after scoring against Colombia. (Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s national soccer team rallied after a lackluster first half to take down Colombia 3-0 Saturday in the first of two friendlies between the sides.

Colorado native Sophia Smith led the way, scoring the first two goals of the game in front of her home crowd at DSG Park in Commerce City.

With Colombia set up in a low block and a sweeper, the USWNT struggled to break down their opponent’s backline. Despite holding 71 percent of possession, the USWNT only put three of their 12 shots on goal in the opening 45 minutes, failing to execute in the final third.

The team was awarded a penalty kick in the final seconds of the first half and a breakthrough goal before the break seemed imminent, but Colombia keeper Catalina Perez denied Lindsey Horan from the spot to keep the match deadlocked.

The second 45 minutes were a different story for the USWNT, with Sophia Smith notching the go-ahead goal in the 54th minute, finishing off a perfectly placed ball from Rose Lavelle.

Smith doubled the USWNT’s lead in the 60th minute, again getting on the end of a long ball out of the midfield from Lavelle.

Taylor Kornieck put the icing on the cake for the United States, nodding in a set-piece from Megan Rapinoe in stoppage time for her first USWNT goal in her national team debut.

Three takeaways from Saturday’s win

Sophia Smith shines in her home state

Colorado native Smith put on a show, notching a brace in front of the Commerce City crowd. The attacker played a full 90 minutes and made magic with Lavelle throughout the match, with the duo linking up in both of Smith’s goals.

Smith is tied for the USWNT’s scoring lead with five goals on the year. Heading into the June camp, coach Vlatko Andonovski said it would be “extremely difficult” for a player to take Smith or Mallory Pugh’s starting spot, with Smith’s Saturday night performance further solidifying her place on the front line.

Ashley Sanchez shifts the tempo

Ashley Sanchez and Alex Morgan were subbed on at the half, relieving Horan and Ashley Hatch. The duo immediately made an impact, jump-starting an out-of-sync USWNT offense while upping the game’s tempo.

Sanchez unlocked space, drawing defenders with her skills on the dribble, showing off her creative flair and courage one-on-one. Not only is Sanchez exciting to watch, but she is also effective, especially in breaking down a low block and pulling defenses apart with her dynamic movement on and off the ball.

The star midfielder nearly put Morgan on the board, dishing out a well-executed ball to the forward in the box before she was fouled, drawing a penalty. Lavelle, however, missed from the spot, with Perez once again denying the USWNT.

Sanchez and Morgan marked a handful of second-half substitutions from Andonovski, including Sofia Huerta for Kelley O’Hara, Kristie Mewis for Andi Sullivan, Kornieck for Lavelle and Rapinoe for Pugh.

Taylor Kornieck scores in USWNT debut

Kornieck had a night to remember, with the University of Colorado alum scoring in her first appearance with the USWNT. The San Diego Wave midfielder subbed on in the 73rd minute before heading in a set piece from Rapinoe, putting the score at 3-0 in the final minutes of stoppage time. With her late-game goal, Kornieck became the 22nd player in USWNT history to score in her first appearance.