Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd had a relatively quiet tournament, contributing to already present concerns that head coach Vlatko Andonovski had made a poor choice by opting for experience over youth on his Olympic roster.
On Thursday, with a bronze medal on the line, Rapinoe and Lloyd brought the heat, leaving Tokyo with a performance they can be proud of.
The two veterans not only led the team to victory, but they did so in spectacular fashion. Rapinoe kicked off the scoring with an impressive “Olympico” (a goal scored from a corner kick that never touches another player).
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She followed that up with a full volley finish, then embraced her teammates, shouted some profanity in an expression of pure happiness, and the USWNT was all smiles.
The USWNT’s scoring continued with textbook striker play from Lloyd who used her strength and eye for goal to tuck another two in the back of the net.
Perhaps Rapinoe and Lloyd’s dominance in the final game of the Olympics stemmed from a need to go out with a bang as it was likely the last time they will play in a major international tournament.
Or perhaps the veteran strikers just had a great night’s sleep and a fire in their belly. Whatever it was that inspired their performances, the end result was greatly appreciated by all.
Despite scoring four, USWNT made things interesting
Because it seems like our stress levels never could catch a break this tournament, the USWNT let Australia tie the game at 1-1, then sneak back into the game at 4-2. The Aussies closed to within 4-3 and managed a few other near-goals as well.
With a striker as dangerous as Australia’s Sam Kerr attacking your back line, there’s never a moment’s rest. And despite a 3-1 halftime advantage, the USWNT nearly let their comfortable lead slip.
There were many moments throughout this tournament that made me question whether the bronze medal would be on the table for the USWNT. To walk away with the bronze on Thursday was a major accomplishment given their overall tournament performance.
But just think … this team won the bronze medal after drastically underperforming all tournament. What greatness might they have achieved had they performed to their full potential just once in the knockout rounds? At the same time, how many people can say they have an Olympic medal. So critiques aside, congratulations to the USWNT on bringing home bronze.