Early Deficit Overcome: U.S. win 4-2


It was not the start that the Women’s National Team wanted.  The team that was the favorite going into the Olympic Games was down 2-0 early in the first half.  Downing the dark blue kit the U.S. Women were pressing early, found themselves down, and rode a blast from Carli Lloyd and two goals from Alex Morgan to victory over a French squat making its debut in the Olympics.

Megan Rapinoe was active early challenging Sonya Bompastor down the right side.  In the first five minutes the U.S. challenged the penalty area four or five time with Morgan, Tobin Heath, and Abby Wambach making runs.  In the 4-4-2 formation balls were being sent long but receivers were not moving toward the right spot.  Pia Sundhage said her team was ready as they look for a third straight gold medal and the coach wanted a fast start.

Unfortunately it would come from France as the opening goal found the net in the 12th minute.  After a stoppage due to a rough challenge on Morgan, a long shot from Gaetane Thiney beat Hope Solo.  The 25 yard attempt may have fooled the United States keeper, but it was the space given Thiney that was more surprising.  Solo could have done better, but the defense backed off after a long searching pass from defense.

Just two minutes later Marie-Laure Delie scored her 37th goal in 42 international matches off a gracious bounce.  A corner awarded to France was never cleared and pinballed around the box.  As many as five U.S. players touched the ball around the area although the last, Shannon Boxx, was felled allowing Delie to have a sitter to blast by Solo.

Boxx would be shaken up again a couple minutes later having to come off for Lloyd.  Almost on cue, Wambach would head home a corner in the 19th minute and quickly try to rally her team.  Somehow she is there in the most pivotal of moments and the U.S. needed to score.  France decided to play a zone defense on most corners in the match letting Wambach roam free until the ball arrived.  Wambach used her strength to send the ball across the face of goal bringing the United States within one.

Possession would be shared over the next ten minutes with several questionable tackles  across the board.  A free kick would create traffic around the 18 for the United States in the 27th minute but nothing would come from it.  Lloyd was trying to settle in to a more defensive role although she was getting help from Lauren Cheney.

The equalizer would come from Morgan just over a third of the way into the match.  Despite good possession from the French, an offside call would lead to the attack that may have been as much luck as it was skill.  A free kick from Solo would land outside the box after Wambach would try to win it in the air.  It would bounce to Morgan who finished over the keeper with a shoulder high flick.

The first half would end all square despite a few questions in the back from the United States.  Delie settled a ball in the box but sent it over the bar in the 27th minute and have a header saved by Solo moments later.  France coach Bruno Bini may have sensed a change in momentum and went with  the attacking Eugenie Le Sommer as a substitute for the second half.  However, the attempts to find Le Sommer and Delie were lacking and the United States took over.  This would be a wide open, exciting first match that the USWNT would seize.

When Wambach scores in the first half this team is now 54-0-1 thanks to an absolute bomb from the foot of Lloyd in the 56th minute.  Rapinoe raised her game in the second half battling for possession in a more dedicated fashion.  Her pass would set up the touch by Lloyd.  The 2008 gold medal match was won on the foot of Lloyd so this may not be her most memorable goal, but it did bring relief.  Lloyd made a quick decision to switch feet confusing the defender and used the space to wire the ball far corner on a diagonal from about 25 yards.

The fourth goal of the game would be Morgan’s 19th goal in her last 18 games.  Once again Morgan would find herself unmarked after a cross from Heath missed Wambach.  Morgan would make no mess to secure the victory for the United States.  Despite the early test from a French team that showed plenty in the loss, the U.S. would move on with three points.  Rapinoe and Lloyd played great.  Lloyd was asked to change her role and had the winning strike.  Rapinoe improved as the match went on.

Colombia is the next opponent for the United States in a match that should be easier, at least on paper, than this opening challenge.  The match takes place in Glasgow on Saturday, July 28th at Noon Eastern Time.  Colombia lost to North Korea 2-0 after an hour delay due to the wrong flag being shown on the scoreboard for PRK.