Jenna Nighswonger and Jaedyn Shaw scored in the first half, and the United States rebounded from their loss to Mexico with a 3-0 victory over Colombia on Sunday night to advance to the semi-finals of the Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup.

Lindsey Horan also converted a penalty in the opening minutes for the Americans, who shook off the embarrassment of their 2-0 loss to Mexico last Monday in the final game of group play. The US were back in dominant form against a strong Colombian team that reached the quarter-finals of last year’s World Cup.

The US will face Canada in the semi-finals in San Diego on Wednesday.

The loss to Mexico highlighted the steady decline in results for this longtime world soccer power in the past few years, including a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics and a round of 16 exit from last year’s World Cup. But this victory showed this group of players still have enough talent and athleticism to turn even a tough match-up into a comfortable win – particularly when their young stars have the chance to flourish.

The impressive first-half was highlighted by Shaw, the Americans’ 19-year-old emerging star. When she scored on a sharp pass from fellow youngster Trinity Rodman, she joined Shannon Boxx as the only players in US history to score in each of their first three international starts.

The US hadn’t conceded a goal to a Concacaf opponent in their previous 33 matches before Mexico scored twice against them last Monday, but goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and a defense led by Naomi Girma got the Americans back to clean sheets, with Naeher posting her 43rd shutout during a decade on the US team.

A loud crowd supported the US efforts to get back on track in Angel City FC’s home stadium just south of downtown Los Angeles, and the team was awarded an early penalty when Jorelyn Carabali took down a sprinting Alex Morgan in the 10th minute. Horan stutter-stepped before burying her second penalty conversion of the Gold Cup.

Both teams had a physical edge in the first half, with Morgan and Maria Usme getting matching yellow cards for a scrap while jostling for position. Rodman got another yellow a few minutes later for kicking at Daniela Arias in frustration over the Colombian defender’s cagey play.

Nighswonger made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute, resulting in the southern California native’s second international goal. The 23-year-old Gotham FC defender graduated from Huntington Beach High School.

Colombia increased the pressure, but Naeher made two impressive saves on shots by Real Madrid teenager Linda Caicedo.

The US went up 3-0 in first-half injury time when Shaw banged home Rodman’s pass for her third goal of the tournament and fifth in eight career appearances. The Americans’ attack has been markedly more impressive in this tournament when the speedy, creative Shaw – who plays for San Diego’s NWSL team – is on the field.

In the evening’s other match, Lizbeth Ovalle scored two goals as Mexico advanced to the semi-finals with a 3-2 victory over Paraguay. Karen Luna also scored and Esthefanny Barreras saved a penalty for Mexico, who followed up their landmark victory over the US by outlasting Paraguay in a thrilling second half featuring four goals and many more chances for both teams. Ovalle extended her star-making performance in this tournament by scoring in each half against Paraguay, giving her five goals in Gold Cup play. Camila Barbosa and Rebeca Fernandez scored in the second half for Paraguay.

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