EDMONTON, Alberta — The United States has made it through to the quarterfinals at the Women’s World Cup but not unscathed.
The Americans will have to face China without two key contributors.
Midfielders Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe won’t be able to play because of accumulated yellow cards. Both received their second yellows in Monday night’s 2-0 victory over upstart Colombia in the round of 16.
It’s a blow to the United States, which has struggled to find its offense during the tournament. Rapinoe has been one of the most creative and dangerous players for the Americans, while Holiday has been steady and dependable.
“Obviously we’ve got some decisions to make but I think we’ve invested in players significantly over the past six months and we’ve dealt with injuries,” coach Jill Ellis said. “So I feel very confident in the players we have to be able to come in and contribute. And I know they’re going to be confident to be able to step up and help us advance.”
Rapinoe said she felt her caution in the 41st came as the result of a series of calls. Holiday was carded in the 17th minute.
“I guess you could say I accumulated all those fouls so that’s worth the yellow card. But (Holiday) got the yellow card on her very first foul of the game so I didn’t think that was that fair,” Rapinoe said.
Ellis said after the game that Morgan Brian is likely to take Holiday’s spot at center with Carli Lloyd. At 22, Brian is the youngest player on the team. Rapinoe suggested that Christen Press would likely step into her spot.
The United States has won the World Cup twice, but the team’s last title came in 1999. The second-ranked Americans are among the favorites in Canada, along with top-ranked Germany and third-ranked France.
The U.S. will play No. 16 China on Friday night in Ottawa. The winner of that game will go on to face the winner of the Friday quarterfinal between Germany and France in Montreal.
Abby Wambach, who missed a penalty kick in the match against Colombia, was asked after the match whether the yellow cards for Rapinoe and Holiday were deserved.
“I don’t know,” Wambach said. “That’s definitely a great question. I don’t know if they were yellows. It seemed like she (the referee) was purposefully giving those yellows to maybe players that she knew were sitting on yellows. I don’t know if that was just a psychological thing, who knows. Who knows,” Wambach said.
Those comments concerning French referee Stephanie Frappart could merit discipline by FIFA, soccer’s international governing body. Canadian striker Christine Sinclair made comments about the officiating following her team’s loss to the United States at the London Olympics and she was later suspended for four matches for unsportsmanlike behavior.
FIFA did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Tuesday.
The tournament’s rules state that players who receive two yellow cards in two different matches before the semifinals will be suspended for their team’s following game. Single yellow cards are cancelled after the quarterfinals to ensure that no players miss the final because of a caution in the semis.
Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd each scored for the United States in the match against No. 28 Colombia, which had pulled off one of the biggest upsets of World Cup with victory over France in the group stage.
Wambach missed a penalty kick early in the second half after Colombia goalkeeper Catalina Perez was ejected from the match for a foul on Morgan.
With Colombia a player short, Morgan got a right-footed shot past Perez’s replacement, Stefany Castano, in the 53rd minute, and Lloyd scored on a penalty kick in the 66th.
“This team is one of the deepest teams that I’ve ever seen or played on,” Holiday said. “I think that we have so many players on the bench that can fill in and do an excellent job.”