Team USA women’s soccer club defied the odds by mounting yet another memorable comeback yesterday against France, in their Olympic opener.
The match didn’t start the way the U.S. would have liked it. France came out with high energy and intensity. France scored first with a goal by Gaetane Thiney in the 12th minute and another goal just two minutes later by Marie-Laure Delie (14’). Just under 15 minutes into the match and the US was already down 2-0.
The match was held on Glasgow’s Hampden Park, Scotland on July 25, 2012. The Group G match against France was likely the team’s biggest challenge in their group. The two teams are very familiar with one another; they met in the semi-final stage of last year’s FIFA World Cup. In that match, the USA won 3-1, but France came out looking to even the score in this time.
Poor defense early on had the U.S. team in a tough hole, failure to clear and a lucky bounce lead to the second goal. The troubled outlook didn’t last long though. Right before the 20th minute, Megan Rapinoe hooked up with Abbey Wambach on a set piece. Rapinoe’s corner found Wambach’s lethal forehead which sent the ball in from the back post for the team’s first goal.
The US then tied it up just after the 30 minute mark with a long pass from goalie Hope Solo to Alex Morgan, who then deposited it in to the back of the net for the first of her two goals. Morgan’s goal was the equalizer the team needed to head into the half with the scored tied at 2 apiece.
The United States kept the momentum they gained at the end of the first half and carried it into the second half. Improved play at the flanks from American midfielders Rapinoe and Tobin Heath ignited the spark that would lead to the domination of the second half of the match.
Rapinoe’s precession passing and energy combined with Heath’s superior ball control dissected the French defense and lifted the level of play for their team. The second half was all United States. In the 56 minute Rapinoe found fellow mid-fielder Carli Lloyd who struck a laser shot pass French goalie Sarah Bouhaddi giving the US their first lead of the game.
Lloyd entered the game by replacing starter Shannon Boxx, after Boxx got injured in the opening minutes of the match. Lloyd, who had lost her starting position on the team just prior to the Olympics, stated she was willing to play whatever role was needed. In this game that role was hero, as she blasted the 20 yard shot that changed the whole complexity of the game.
“I’ve been preparing to get on the field and play, came on to be a game changer, doing what I do best and that’s scoring from distance, it was a great ball from Megan Rapinoe” said Lloyd in a post game interview on NBC.
Later they added another goal from Morgan, in the 66th minute; that would prove to be the cherry on top, completing the US’s phenomenal comeback. Morgan who has a knack for being at the right place at the right time, benefitted from Rapinoe’s pass to Heath who was free to make a run at the goal and make a cross that found Morgan on the far post making it a 4-2 victory for the US.
The United States soccer team will continue their quest to win back to back gold medals this Saturday, July 28 at noon eastern time.