July 26, the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) kicked off their run at the 2012 London Olympics in Group G with a 4-2 win over France at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland. The USA pulled back all four goals after recovering from a two-goal deficit in the 13th minute. Rising star Alex Morgan scored a brace.
“It was a little shaky beginning, but I think it was amazing the way we came back and responded to those two goals,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage.
Seven players made their Olympic debuts: left back Kelley O’Hara, right back Amy LePeilbet, midfielders Lauren Cheney, Tobin Heath and Megan Rapinoe and forwards Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux.
USA pulls back from 2-goal deficit
France scored the first two goals in a three-minute span. Gaëtane Thiney gave her country the lead in the 12th minute by collecting a clearance, attacking down the middle and slamming the ball into the upper right corner from 25 yards out, just skimming US goalkeeper Hope Solo’s outstretched glove. Two minutes later, France capitalized on a corner kick. After a skirmish in the box, Marie-Laure Delie connected with the ball and blasted it into the right side of the net for a 2-0 lead. This was the first time in Olympic play that the USWNT ever had to come back from a two goal deficit and have only allowed more than one goal three times.
In the 17th minute, Carli Lloyd replaced Shannon Boxx who left the field with a hamstring injury. One minute later, Abby Wambach capitalized on a corner kick and headed the ball in, cutting the deficit in half 2-1 and tallying her fifth Olympic goal and 139th career goal. It was Wambach’s first Olympic goal since the 2004 Athens gold medal game as she missed the 2008 Olympics with a broken leg.
In a recent interview, Wambach told me the broken leg that crushed her Olympics dreams in 2008 made her a better person.
“The worst case scenario is getting so close to participating in the Olympic games and having a couple bones in your leg break,” said Wambach. “I learned a lot about myself. When you go through trying times, whenever you go through a hard experience and you get up from that or whenever you turn the corner, you’re better, you’re stronger, more capable. I realized that no matter what happens from that point on in my life, I’d be able to literally handle anything.”
Alex Morgan equalized in the 31st minute with a left-footed shot, connecting with the ball after Solo sent it down the pitch into the top third. Although Morgan scored twice in FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2011, this was her first-ever Olympic goal. Solo’s assist is the first international assist of her career since debuting for the team back in 2000. The first half ended 2-2 with the USA under pressure from waves of well-orchestrated French attacks on the American goal.
France made two subs at halftime, replacing Meilleroux with Laura Georges and star midfielder Louisa Necib for Eugénie Le Sommer, which proved to be a mistake. In the 56th minute, Lloyd tallied the winning goal for the USA on a committed strike from 25 yards out, leaving goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi frozen in net. The striker was Lloyd’s third Olympic goal and her second straight Olympic game-winner as she recorded the lone score in the 2008 Olympic gold medal game, where the USA defeated Brazil 1-0 in overtime.
In the 66th minute, Morgan finished off the match with her second goal, but most of the credit goes to Tobin Heath and Megan Rapinoe, who started the sequence. Rapinoe made a clever and unpredictable decision of flicking the ball straight across the field where Tobin Heath picked it up and headed to goal. Heath crossed the ball across the face of the net through a tangle of defenders and Morgan simply tapped it in from a yard out. It was Morgan’s team-leading 19th goal of the year.
The USA continue group play against Colombia at Hampden Park on July 28, 12 p.m. ET and finish the first round against Korea DPR on July 31, 12:15 p.m. ET at legendary Old Trafford in Manchester, home to Manchester United. Both games are televised live on the NBC Sports Network.
FOLLOW LE EISENMENGER ON TWITTER AND FACEBOOK AND SUBSCRIBE TO ALERTS.
– U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report –
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. France
Date: July 25, 2012
Competition: 2012 Olympic Games; Group G
Venue: Hampden Park; Glasgow, Scotland
Kickoff: 5 p.m. local (12 p.m. ET)
Weather: 66 degrees, partly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 2 4
FRA 2 0 2
FRA – Gaëtane Thiney 12th minute
FRA – Marie-Laure Delie 14
USA – Abby Wambach (Megan Rapinoe) 19
USA – Alex Morgan (Hope Solo) 32
USA – Carli Lloyd (Megan Rapinoe) 56
USA – Alex Morgan (Tobin Heath) 66
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 6-Amy LePeilbet, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 16-Rachel Buehler, 5-Kelley O’Hara; 15-Megan Rapinoe (11-Sydney Leroux, 84), 7-Shannon Boxx (10-Carli Lloyd, 17), 12-Lauren Cheney, 17-Tobin Heath; 13-Alex Morgan (8-Amy Rodriguez, 76), 14-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 2-Heather Mitts, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 18-Nicole Barnhart
Head coach: Pia Sundhage
FRA: 18-Sarah Bouhaddi; 2-Wendie Renard, 5-Ophélle Meilleroux (4-Laura Georges, 46), 7-Corine Franco, 8-Sonia Bompastor; 10-Camille Abily (6-Sandrine Soubeyrand, 71), 11-Marie-Laure Delie, 12-Élodie Thomis, 14-Louisa Necib (9-Eugénie Le Sommer, 46); 15-Élise Bussaglia, 17-Gaëtane Thiney
Subs not used: 1-Céline Deville, 3-Laure Boulleau, 13-Camille Catala, 16-Sabrina Viguier
Head coach: Bruni Bini
Statistical Summary: USA / FRA
Shots: 8 / 9
Shots on Goal: 7 / 3
Saves: 1 / 3
Corner Kicks: 6 / 6
Fouls: 8 / 7
Offside: 4 / 4
Referee: Sachiko Yamagishi (JPN)
Assistant Referee 1: Saori Takahashi (JPN)
Assistant Referee 2: Widiya Shamsuri (JPN)
Fourth Official: Hong Eun Ha (KOR)
Bud Light Woman of the Match: