U.S. Move On With Clean Sheet Victory over New Zealand in Olympic Games


The United States women secured a trip to the semifinal with a 2-0 win over New Zealand.  A game that featured a strong start by the U.S. squad carried a tumultuous 1-0 lead for most of the match.  Abby Wambach opened the scoring and continued to show her determination to lead the team to the third straight gold.  The U.S. will now face Christine Sinclair and a physical Canadian team.

It was expected that New Zealand would come out with a focus on lock down defense.  However, the U.S. squad was up to the task as their defense was just as suffocating in perhaps the best showing of the Olympic Games.  The scoreless streak for U.S. opponents now sits at 345 minutes.  High pressure forced turnovers leading to the best early chance in the 10th minute as Alex Morgan sent one wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Wambach were all noticeable early in a theme that has occurred throughout the games.  Rapinoe sent a ball through the box that missed everyone to the far post only to see Wambach send it wide.  Finishing has been a slight problem for the U.S. team and it was showing again early despite Carli Lloyd and Lauren Cheney playing well in the midfield to start offensive rushes.

The first goal would come in the 27th minute as Wambach slid to meet a low ball at the far post from Morgan.  Morgan avoided a defender on the left wing and cut the ball back through with her right foot.   The delivery was beautiful and the Wambach finish was another picture of determination.  The half would end after several uneventful minutes.

The second half was a dominant defensive performance.  The pressure led to several opportunities from Morgan, including an arguable missed penalty in the box.  There was also a collision with the keeper at the top of the box but it looked like Morgan’s knee initiated the contact.  Morgan may come away from this match frustrated.

The back line was improved but the only real opportunities New Zealand would get came from less than crisp play in the midfield.  After a late substitution for Morgan, New Zealand had their best chance as they pleaded for a penalty in the box.  Betsy Hassett was felled as two defenders converged, but the referee again made no call.  The substitute, Sydney Leroux, would score her first Olympic goal on a play started with a chip pass by Tobin Heath.  Leroux’s speed was evident beating the defender.

The U.S. will now face Canada on Monday at 2:45 pm.  Canada beat Great Britain in a physical match.  They were pooed heavily most of the match, especially after Melissa Tancredi collared down her mark in the seventh minute.  Tancredi backed up her play with her words.

"This is the type of game we’re playing.  The men don’t bring that type of physicality. They’re more about diving and gamesmanship. For us, we don’t get the calls. We get the physicality."

Desiree Scott, otherwise known as “The Destroyer”, also played a role in the toughness for Canada.  The U.S. squad can expect the same and Wambach will be up to the challenge.  However, the U.S. team is not physical overall and will need to match the Canadian squad, especially to contain Christine Sinclair.

Japan will take on France in the other semifinal.