The US has won GOLD!!!! USA’s women’s soccer put a sixth win under their belt, beating Japan 2-1 in the final match of the olympics! It was a close game, but the US prevailed!
Today’s match was bound to be a game of redemption. The United States lost the 2011 World Cup to Japan on penalty kicks, while Abby Wambach watched from the sidelines. She had a broken leg and was unable to help her team on the field. The US needed to put everything into the match at Wembley Stadium to secure victory after such a heartbreaking loss the year before. This was sure to be an exciting game and it seemed that a record breaking 80,000 fans (for a women’s olympic soccer game) felt the same.
The game started out calm, uncharacteristic for the fierce USA who was supposedly fighting for redemption. It seemed as if both sides were testing the waters, ‘feeling’ the other team out. Something lit a fire under the US team because all of a sudden they burst out with their usual ferocity and ended up scoring a tremendous goal in the 8th minute of play! Alex morgan crossed the ball to the top of the 6 yrd box when Carly Lloyd headed the ball into the open net to the right of the goal keeper. It was a wonderfully crafted play by the United States. The US secured an early advantage, leading 1 to nil.
Following that exciting play, the game settled into a rhythm. Maybe too much settling on the part of the US defensive line. Soon enough, Hope Solo had to make a few phenomenal saves to keep the United States ahead in the game. She defended a couple back to back scrambling plays inside the penalty box, jumped to tap the ball off the cross bar a couple times and dove to cover the goal from a powerful shot heading toward the back post. This is why Hope Solo is the best female goal keeper in the world: she is agile and can quickly cover a tremendous amount of area. Solo saw that her defense was bending and stepped up to the plate to keep her team in the game.
Another close call came from a direct kick that a US player tried to block, hitting her hand in the process. But a hand ball was not called. Slow motion play back showed the incidence was the defenition of a hand ball. The US got lucky considering the controversial circumstances that led to the PK against Canada for a hand ball during Monday’s game (and allowed the US to tie). I have a feeling that this game would have turned out very differently had the ref made that call. In the last 5 minutes, the US ‘woke up’ and resumed the fiery play for which they are known. At the end of the first half, the US was still up 1 to nil.
Second half of the game was even more nail biting than the first. Carly Lloyd scored a second goal bringing the game to 2-0. It seemed like the US might have gold in the bag, but the US struggled to ‘stay awake’ and allowed Japan to score. At that point, the game was still up for grabs. Hope Solo saved some pretty amazing shots in the second half and I think that her skills as a goalie helped to keep the US ahead rather than falling behind. Japan overall played better than the US in the second half, with controlled passes and thoughtful plays, but they couldn’t finish their chances.
As the play traveled back and forth, Japan a force to be reckoned with, the US fans were on edge waiting for the time to run out. After 2 minutes of over time, the final whistles blew and the US won gold. London 2012 was surely one of the most impressive tournaments as a whole, with some incredible matches between these women’s teams. Congratulations to US for winning gold, Japan achieving silver and Canada for securing Bronze (their first ever medal in women’s soccer)!
Official Olympic Statistics:
Posession: USA 42% vs Japan 58%
Shots: USA 17 vs Japan 13
Shots on goal: USA 6 vs Japan 5
Highlights of the game (screenshots from NBC live feed)
What are your favorite olympic events?