A win feels great, but a win against a team that beat you in a penalty kick thriller has to feel like a piece of heaven. Japan may have crushed the U.S. Women's Soccer Teams' dreams in last year's World Cup final, but in Thursday's Olympic final, it was the Carli Lloyd and the U.S. who were doing the dream crushing by beating Japan 2-1 in front of a crowd of 85,000 at Wembley Stadium.
Wasting no time, Carli Lloyd scored in the 8th minute from a remarkable cross from Alex Morgan. I still can't believe how Morgan kept the ball inbounds. She turned so calmly by the near post to cross back away from the Japan's goalkeeper for the Lloyd header. It was Lloyd's third Olympic goal. She is no stranger to scoring goals in big Olympic matches. Lloyd scored the winning goal in the 2008 final against Brazil.
Hope Solo had some incredible deflections off the crossbar in the first half. Japan had the momentum heading into the half with their shots on goal in the waning minutes that kept Solo busy…too busy. Her diving deflection in the 82nd minute was her best block of the tournament, defending the far post mechanically. She never lost her energy and intensity throughout the match.
Lloyd scored again in the 53rd minute on a hard to believe drive that put the U.S. up 2-0. A gap opened when Japan defenders went to Alex Morgan instead of Lloyd, and Lloyd ended up capitalizing on the mistake. With the 2-0 advantage, I was feeling pretty good about things, but then I instantly remembered the World Cup final and came back down to earth. All the joy was instantaneously sapped out of me. If you remember, Team USA had the lead in the World Cup final.
In the 62nd minute, Japan's Yuki Ogimi scored after a scuffle in front of the goal where she got a free look by just standing by the near post when the U.S. failed to clear the ball. I got really nervous when it became 2-1. Ogimi's score happened in what seemed like a flash, and afterward, for a few minutes, Team USA's defense appeared to be disheveled.
The crowd at Wembley kept getting louder and louder as the final was getting closer to the end. Chants of "USA!" began to echo throughout the stadium, especially when there was only 20 minutes left.
You could tell Team USA's legs were getting tired, but they stayed in the match mentally, and kept any confusion to a minimum. Team USA respected Japan's skill all the way to the end.
When the two minutes was added after regulation, groans rang out all over Wembley and in a lot of American living rooms. The win was redemption for the U.S., and there's no better way to win than when you felt like you avenged something. This is a third consecutive gold medal win for U.S. Women's Soccer.
Wambach, Lloyd, Solo, Morgan and the rest of Team USA should be proud of this accomplishment. This is a United State's team that's just getting started too.
Note: I've been an Arsenal fan for nearly a decade. My cousin got me interested in the club at a young age.
- Sports & Recreation
- Carli Lloyd
- Alex Morgan