Hope Solo started in goal despite a mild quadriceps strain she'd incurred during the 4-0 win over Mexico. Other than injure herself, Solo had hardly had anything to do during the Mexico game (I counted just a handful of first-half touches). The Costa Rica game was a bit more of a challenge; Solo had to make a few saves in the first half. The injury didn't seem to do her any harm, as she registered her fourth clean sheet of the tournament.
Part of the reason that Solo hurt herself against Mexico was that -- as she admits -- she still isn't up to form after taking time off for Dancing With The Stars.
In the Costa Rica game, for the first time that I can remember, coach Pia Sundhage chose not to start Amy Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a reasonably talented player, and she's fast, but she makes terrible decisions when the ball is at her feet. She'll make a good run to get possession and then lose possession in mere seconds -- not to a tackle but to a poorly-chosen pass.
Why Sundhage persisted in starting Rodriguez through the 2011 World Cup run remains a mystery, since Sundhage had a talented midfielder like Megan Rapinoe on the sideline. Many of the team's late-game heroics during the World Cup came only after Rapinoe subbed in for Rodriguez.
Against Costa Rica, both Rapinoe and Rodriguez started on the bench; Rodriguez went on in the 70th minute for Heather O'Reilly, and Rapinoe went on in the 80th minute for Shannon Boxx.
Finally I must confess some curiosity as to why Alex Morgan never starts games. She scored plenty of times in the World Cup run, and has had several goals in this year's Olympic cycle as well. I can only assume that Morgan's fitness isn't yet up to snuff, and so she's used as a strong, fast attacking substitute in games where more offense is needed. She's young, and so I expect to see her getting some starts relatively soon.
The US will face either Canada or Mexico in the tournament final Sunday night at 8pm EST. For once, this game will be broadcast -- it'll be on the NBC Sports network (formerly known as Versus).