The U.S. women's soccer team earned a gold medal at the Olympic Games on Aug. 9. Beating Japan 2-1 at Wembley Stadium, the U.S. had the opportunity to avenge the loss at the 2011 World Cup, and it was mentioned multiple times by the players. I hope their victory will help reinvigorate interest in a U.S professional women's soccer league.
Victory at the Summer Olympics
Carli Lloyd scored two goals for the U.S. while Japan's Yuki Ogimi scored one. The U.S. soccer team was able to maintain its early lead through the start of the second half, and goalie Hope Solo's saves kept Japan from creating a tie. Both teams alternated in dominating possession and controlling the speed of the game.
Unfortunately, this Olympic soccer match has not escaped controversy. In the Aug. 9 game, referee Bibiana Steinhaus has been accused of ignoring a hand ball by Tobin Heath. After watching replays, I think it is clear that Steinhaus should have awarded Japan the penalty kick it deserved.
A Chance for Redemption after the World Cup Loss
The U.S. team has referenced the loss at the 2011 World Cup multiple times before and after the Aug. 9 Olympic match. Obviously, the devastating loss to Japan in 2011 still weighed heavily on their minds. Carli Lloyd mentioned, "We played Japan a lot this year so we knew what to expect," and Abby Wambach pointed out, "[W]e lost to Japan a few times, and this win feels like everything has come full circle." The gold medal at the Olympic Games served as redemption for the U.S. players.
The Future of a U.S. Professional Women's Soccer League
Despite earning a third gold medal in a row at the Olympic Games and having a strong national team, the U.S. has struggled for years to create a solid U.S professional women's soccer league. Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) cancelled the 2012 season in Jan. By May 2012, WPS had been officially closed, and its failure was only one example of the ongoing struggles of women's soccer teams in the U.S. I hope this gold medal will increase interest in forming a new professional league because U.S. players have already started to search for foreign teams to continue their careers after the Olympics.
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Lana follows MLS, UEFA and FIFA. She is an avid athlete and youth coach. Follow @Lana_Bandoim on Twitter.