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Morgan misses penalty as USA women held to draw by Colombia in friendly

Alex Morgan missed a penalty at the end of the first half and the United States settled for a scoreless draw with Colombia in an friendly on Thursday night.

Morgan’s attempt in the 44th minute bounced back off the post and she tried to score off the rebound, but the ball sailed over the goal.

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The game, played in chilly temperatures in the mid-30F range, was the first of two matches against Colombia. The second is set for Sunday in San Diego.

“We knew Colombia was going to be a tough matchup,” defender Emily Sonnett said. “We want to be more clinical in the final third. I think overall a good performance and there’s definitely things to tighten up.”

The United States will play just two more games this year, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Frisco, Texas, in early December. Both matches are against China.

Colombia, ranked No 22 in the world, advanced to the quarterfinals at the Women’s World Cup this past summer for the first time. Las Cafeteras were finally stopped by England 2-1.

The United States were eliminated in the round of 16 on penalties after a scoreless draw with Sweden, the earliest World Cup exit ever for the Americans. Soon after the disappointing finish, coach Vlatko Andonovski stepped down.

Since then, the Americans have been led by interim coach Twila Kilgore, who was an assistant under Andonovski. The United States, ranked No 3, were expected to name a permanent head coach by the end of the year as the team prepares for the Paris Olympics next summer.

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The game marked the return of defender Becky Sauerbrunn to the team after she missed the World Cup because of an injury. She started on the bench, but came in at the start of the second half.

“It’s been a tough year for me, and so to be able to get minutes on the field with this team, it’s a good day for me. So I’m really happy about that,” Sauerbrunn said. “Of course, it would have been great if it had been a win as well, but obviously we’ve got things we’ve got to work on.”

Sophia Smith was a late substitute. The reigning US Soccer Player of the Year had not played for the United States since the World Cup because of a knee injury and was on limited minutes.

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Smith came close to a goal in the final moments of stoppage time, but Colombia goalkeeper Natalia Girlaldo made the stop.

Jaedyn Shaw, who turned 19 last week, made her first appearance for the senior national team as a late-game substitute.

Colombia, who have also qualified for the Olympics, had not played since the World Cup. Linda Caicedo, the team’s 18-year-old forward who plays professionally for Real Madrid, started against the Americans. Catalina Usme, who scored two goals during the World Cup, was unavailable because of an injury.

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The Colombians were playing the two friendlies under Angela Marsiglia, their new head coach after the post-World Cup departure of Nelson Abadía.