u.s. women’s soccer team

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United States women held by Colombia, still win Group G

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Having never lost a major international match to Colombia the United States women, already well-positioned to win Group G, were expected to comfortably pick up a third win in as many matches. But things didn’t go as planned, with the South American side putting forth a tougher challenge than expected. Catalina Usme’s left-footer free kick in the 90th minute pulled Colombia level, with the match finishing in a 2-2 draw in Manaus.

Yet even with the surprising result the United States won Group G, finishing on seven points with France, 3-0 winners over New Zealand, finishing second on six points. Next up for the Americans is a quarterfinal match in Brasilia Friday against Sweden, which finished third in Group E.

MORE: Hope Solo: “We got our point”

Colombia opened their account in the 26th minute on an Usme free kick that was poorly handled by keeper Hope Solo. Usme’s shot dipped, slipping through Solo’s hands and going into the net. Solo, who picked up her 200th international cap in the win over France, did not have her best night in goal for the United States. However the Americans would even the score in the 42nd minute as Crystal Dunn cleaned up a rebound from a Carli Lloyd shot that caromed off the crossbar.

The United States appeared to be in control of the match early in the second half, culminating in Mallory Pugh’s goal in the 60th minute to make the score 2-1. With her goal Pugh, just 18 years old, became the youngest American goal scorer in Olympic history. But the Colombians continued to attack, ultimately earning the free kick opportunity for Usme in the final minute of regulation time.

WATCH: Catalina Usme’s match-tying free kick

Also of note for the United States was the tournament debut of midfielder Megan Rapinoe. Rapinoe, who tore the ACL in her right knee in early December, played 32 minutes before being replaced by Pugh in the 33rd minute.

The other quarterfinal match-ups are Brazil vs. Australia, Canada vs. France and Germany vs. China.

Soccer star Carli Lloyd and coach Jill Ellis nominated for FIFA honors

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FIFA announced today that Carli Lloyd, the midfielder on the U.S. women’s national soccer team whose hat trick in the World Cup final helped the US win gold, was nominated for the Women’s World Player of the Year award.

The woman who coached the USWNT to a 5-2 World Cup victory over Japan, Jill Ellis, was nominated in the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football category.

Nominated alongside Lloyd are Japan’s Aya Miyama, a member of the silver-medal winning team at the London Olympics, and Germany’s Celia Sasic, a bronze medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Both Lloyd and Miyama are expected to represent their countries again at the 2016 Rio Olympics, while Sasic retired after the 2015 World Cup.

Only two American women have been named the FIFA World Player of the Year–Abby Wambach in 2012 (when Lloyd was also a semifinalist) and Mia Hamm in both 2001 and 2002.

Lloyd is already racking up a long list of honors in 2015. In addition to earning the Golden Ball Award at the World Cup, she’s nominated by Sports Illustrated for Sportsman of the Year and will be honored on December 2nd by the March of Dimes as their Sportswoman of the Year.

Ellis has been USWNT head coach since May 2014, but has a long Olympic history with the team. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics she was a scout, and then was assistant coach to Pia Sundhage at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. She also served as the interim coach at the end of 2012 after Sundhage left to coach for Sweden, and again when Tom Sermanni was fired in April 2014. She is expected to be the head coach at the 2016 Games.

The other nominees for FIFA World Coach of the Year are England’s Mark Sampson and Japan’s Norio Sasak.

The awards are voted on by team captains, coaches and the media, and will be announced on January 11th. The Ballon d’Or winner will also be announced. The three finalists for the top honor on the men’s side are Neymar, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

MORE: Best photos from USPA National Skydiving Championships

Wambach wins FIFA Player of the Year

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The U.S. women’s soccer team capped off an incredible year by taking home the top honors for both FIFA player and coach of the year at the Ballon d’Or gala in Zurich Monday night.

Striker Abby Wambach, who finished in the top-five for the award five times, became the first American in a decade to earn the sport’s top individual award after she scored five goals in the Olympics and led the U.S. to its third consecutive gold.

“Thank you for challenging me every day,” Wambach said of her competitors. “Alex [Morgan] especially.”

Wambach beat out Morgan, her teammate, whose header capped a dramatic semi-final extra time win over Canada during the Olympics, as well as Marta, the Brazilian star who already has five Player of the Year trophies of her own.

Former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, who heads the Swedish national team, took home Coach of the Year.