LONDON 2012: Soccer – U.S. Women’s National Team Earns Fourth Olympic Gold Medal with 2-1 Victory Against Japan

LONDON 2012: Soccer – U.S. Women’s National Team Earns Fourth Olympic Gold Medal with 2-1 Victory Against Japan


  • Carli Lloyd Scores Both Goals for USA, Including Second Straight Olympic Gold Medal Game-Winner; Earns Bud Light Woman of the Match Honors
  • U.S. Soccer Takes Gold Medal Lead for Combined Women’s and Men’s Olympic Competition
  • U.S. WNT Kicks Off Victory Tour with Sept. 1 Match Against Costa Rica in Rochester, N.Y., and Sept. 16 Game Against Australia at The Home Depot Center; Both Games will be Televised on NBC

LONDON, England (Aug. 9, 2012) – The U.S. Women’s National Team captured the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics with a 2-1 victory against Japan in front of a crowd of 80,203 at the famed Wembley Stadium.

Carli Lloyd scores for Team USA

U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd, the gold medal hero of the 2008 Olympics, led the way once again with both goals for the United States as they upended 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Japan and captured their third-consecutive Olympic championship.

The USA won its fourth gold medal in the five Olympic competitions featuring women’s soccer. The U.S. has also taken the overall soccer gold medal lead for combined women’s and men’s Olympic Games. Both the men’s soccer teams from Great Britain and Hungary have earned three gold medals.

The attendance at Wembley was an Olympic record crowd for women’s soccer and the largest crowd the U.S. WNT has played in front of outside of the United States.

The U.S. WNT will savor the moment of Olympic gold and participate in the Closing Ceremonies in London before returning to the home front for matches starting in September. The team kicks off their victory tour when they host Costa Rica on Sept. 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, N.Y., the hometown of U.S. forward Abby Wambach. The U.S. will then face Australia on Sept. 16 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. (12:30 p.m. PT). Both matches will be broadcast live on NBC.

“This was a year’s worth of work and the sacrifices all of us have had to make for our friends and families, for the players that didn’t make the roster, this goes out to all of our fans that cheered us on last summer and were equally as heartbroken as we were,” said U.S. forward Abby Wambach. “This year has been trials and tribulations, we lost to Japan a few times, and this win feels like everything has come full circle. I’m so proud of this team for never giving up. It was a team effort for this entire tournament and it shows what it takes to win championships — it’s teamwork and loyalty and trusting in each other.” [More Quotes]

Lauren Cheney and Abby Wambach celebrate

On Thursday, the USA got off to a flying start in the gold medal match when Lloyd gave her side an early lead in the eighth minute. Shannon Boxx worked the ball from right to left to Kelley O’Hara and then Tobin Heath. Heath slipped a low cross into the box for Alex Morgan, whose first touch took her to the end line left of the goal. She deftly crossed the ball across the front of the goalmouth with her next touch towards Wambach who had crashed towards the net. While it appeared Wambach was poised to get a goal in her sixth straight game London, she remained tightly marked and Lloyd darted into the scene from her midfield run and headed the ball into the right side of the net. Morgan’s assist was her team-leading fifth of the Olympics.

Japan found a long spell of possession after the USA goal and ultimately an array of scoring chances. In the 17th minute, Homare Sawa slipped Nahomi Kawasumi through into the left side of the penalty area and the defender took a shot toward the far right post that got past U.S goalkeeper Hope Solo, but team captain Christie Rampone hustled to get a body on the ball and prevent a goal. The rebound deflected off Solo’s back and bounced in the six-yard box where Yuki Ogimi came rushing in to try and finish the opportunity, but Solo did well to get back into position and made a point-blank save.

The American ‘keeper came up with a huge save on Ogimi again one minute later, when the Japanese forward snapped a high-header on goal. Solo leapt to get her left glove on the shot and push the ball off the crossbar. U.S. defender Rachel Buehler’s headed clearance fell back to Ogimi for another sniff, but her strike from close range went wide right and high.

The U.S. avoided a potential game-changing moment in the 26th minute when Miyama’s free kick from just outside the box struck the left arm of U.S. midfielder Tobin Heath, who was positioned near the wall inside the penalty area. Japan’s appeals for a penalty were denied as referee Bibiana Steinhaus signaled for play to continue.

Maintaining a one-goal lead to start the second half, the USA gave itself a bit more breathing room in the 54th minute with Lloyd’s second goal of the game. Rapinoe dished to Lloyd just inside the Japanese half and she did the rest, dribbling for more than 25 yards through the center of the park and slicing towards goal before unleashing a wicked right-footed blast from 20 yards out that streamed into the left side netting, giving Japan’s diving goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto no chance. The strike would prove to be the game-winner, her second straight in Olympic gold medal matches as she scored the deciding goal in the USA’s 1-0 overtime victory against Brazil in Beijing in 2008.

Japan’s continual possession and pressure eventually paid off with Ogimi’s rebound goal in the 63rd minute. Japan strung together a bevy of passes before a slicing ball was put into the right side of the penalty area for the streaking Shinobu Ohnu. She took a quick touch before cutting the ball back to Sawa who was wide open at the penalty spot. Sawa hit a first-time shot that got past Solo, and once again Rampone blocked the goal-bound shot off the line. The ball fell back to Sawa, and this time she touched it to her left for Ogimi and the forward buried the easy finish from two yards out.

Japan’s offense had another similar scramble in the 74th minute after Lloyd was called for a handball outside of the box on the right side. Miyama took the free kick and the delivery was deflected to Azusa Iwashimizu who hit a volley on target that seemed destined for goal, but U.S. defender Amy LePeilbet stood resolute and blocked the shot while on her knees. The ball remained loose, but Japan’s Saki Kumagai was eventually called for a foul and the USA maintained their slim advantage.

Lloyd searched for a hat trick and she came close with a screaming shot in the 82nd minute that rose just inches over the crossbar.

In the final 10 minutes, Japan nearly equalized when Mana Iwabuchi stole the ball from Rampone near the top of the box and closed in one-on-one with Solo. Coming in from the left side, Iwabuchi tried to curl a shot towards the back post but Solo was up to the challenge and made a monster diving save to keep the U.S. in the lead.

Solo made six saves on the night, and after two minutes of added time the U.S. were once again crowned Olympic champions.

Additional Notes:

  • Midfielder Shannon Boxx returned to the starting lineup for the first time since injuring a hamstring during the USA’s Olympic-opening 4-2 win against France on July 25. She replaced Lauren Cheney, who injured her ankle during the USA’s semifinal victory against Canada on Aug. 6.
  • Cheney entered as a 56th-minute sub for Megan Rapinoe.
  • Defender and team captain Christie Rampone played in her 22nd career Olympic match.
  • Though she did not find the back of the net Thursday, Abby Wambach’s five goals in the first five games of the Olympics led the USA. She has nine career Olympic goals.
  • The U.S. currently is on an 11-game winning streak and 13 games unbeaten overall. The last time the U.S. settled for less than three points was April 1 against Japan, a 1-1 draw in the Kirin Challenge Cup.
  • The USA improves to 24-1-5 all-time against Japan.
  • Canada defeated France 1-0 in Thursday’s bronze medal game after Diana Matheson’s 92nd minute tally. Canada, which was defeated in the semifinal round by the USA, earned its first medal in women’s soccer.

– U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report –

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Japan
Date: Aug. 9, 2012
Competition: 2012 Olympic Games; Final
Venue: Wembley Stadium; London, England
Kickoff: 7:45 p.m. local (2:45 p.m. ET)
Attendance: 80,203
Weather: 75 degrees, warm

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                         1 1 2
JPN                          0 1 1

USA – Carli Lloyd (Alex Morgan)        8th minute
USA – Carli Lloyd (Megan Rapinoe)  54
JPN – Yuki Ogimi (Homare Sawa)      63

USA: 1-Hope Solo; 6-Amy LePeilbet, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 16-Rachel Buehler (4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 80), 5-Kelley O’Hara; 15-Megan Rapinoe (12-Lauren Cheney, 57), 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Carli Lloyd, 17-Tobin Heath; 13-Alex Morgan, 14-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 2-Heather Mitts, 8-Amy Rodriguez, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 11-Sydney Leroux, 18-Nicole Barnhart
Head coach: Pia Sundhage

JPN: 1-Miho Fukimoto; 2-Yukari Kinga, 3-Azusa Iwashimizu, 4-Saki Kumagai, 5-Aya Sameshima (16-Mana Iwabuchi, 77); 6-Mizuho Sakaguchi (14-Asuna Tanaka, 59), Aya Miyama (capt.), 9-Nahomi Kawasumi, 10-Homare Sawa; 11-Shinobu Ohno (13-Karina Maruyama, 86), 17-Yuki Ogimi
Subs not used: 18-Ayumi Kaihori, 12-Kyoko Yano, 7-Kozue Ando, 15-Megumi Takase
Head coach: Norio Sasaki

Statistical Summary: USA / JPN
Shots: 15 / 12
Shots on Goal: 8 / 7
Saves: 6 / 6
Corner Kicks: 4 / 3
Fouls: 16 / 8
Offside: 1 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Abby Wambach (caution)    90th minute

Referee: Bibiana Steinhaus (GER)
Assistant Referee 1: Marina Wozniak (GER)
Assistant Referee 2: Katrin Rafalski (GER)
Fourth Official: Jesica Di Iorio (ARG)

Bud Light Woman of the Match:
Carli Lloyd


U.S. Women’s National Team defeats Canada advance to gold medal match

Alex Morgan (l) and Abby Morgan (r) celebrate team USA's victory over Canada


  • Alex Morgan Scores Game-Winner in 123rd Minute
  • Abby Wambach Equalizes at 3-3 with a Penalty Kick, Her Fifth Goal in Five Games
  • Megan Rapinoe Tallies First Two U.S. Goals, the First Directly Off a Corner Kick
  • USA Faces 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion Japan in Olympic Gold Medal Game on Thursday, Aug. 9,    Live on NBC Sports Network

MANCHESTER, England (Aug. 6, 2012) – Alex Morgan scored the game-winning goal in the 123rd minute of the Olympic semifinal match as the U.S. Women’s National Team overcame three deficits during regulation to defeat Canada 4-3 in overtime in one of the most exciting and dramatic matches in Olympic history.

The USA advances to its fifth straight gold medal game where it will face Japan in a rematch of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final. Japan defeated France 2-1 in the other semifinal.

The gold medal match between the U.S. and Japan kicks off at 2:45 p.m. ET on Thursday, Aug. 9, at Wembley Stadium in London. The match will be televised on the NBC Sports Network.

Midfielder Megan Rapinoe scored the first two goals for the USA and Abby Wambach scored her fifth goal in five Olympic matches to force overtime in what was the 500th international match in U.S. Women’s National Team history.

In a rollicking match that saw Canada take the lead three times – all scored by star forward Christine Sinclair – the Americans battled back to tie each time and that set the stage for Morgan’s dramatic game-winning goal. The USA out-shot Canada 27-7 for the match but Sinclair showed why she is one of the best goal scorers in women’s soccer history.

Morgan had not scored since her two-goal performance in the USA’s 4-2 victory against France in the Group G opener on July 25, but she had caused all kinds of problems for every U.S. opponent with her tremendous speed, fight and strength. She was due for a goal and it came at the most dramatic of times.

The speedy U.S. forward has shown a knack for scoring huge goals at opportune moments in her young career and this goal may have been the biggest. With just 30 seconds left in the third and final minute of stoppage time, Morgan rose over defender Chelsea Stewart to meet a cross from Heather O’Reilly and loop her header over Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod to seal an historic victory. O’Reilly had entered the game in 101st minute for Lauren Cheney and picked up her first assist of the 2012 Olympics.

Despite the USA’s strong first 20 minutes and multiple set piece opportunities, Canada broke through for the game’s first tally as Canada worked the ball from the left side through Marie-Eve Nault and then Melissa Tancredi’s nice touch found Sinclair running into the middle. Sinclair quickly dribbled to her right to get around Kelley O’Hara and fired into the lower left corner for the early lead in the 22nd minute.

It took the USA until the 55th minute to tie the game and it came on the USA’s fifth corner kick of the match. Taking the corner kick from the left side, Rapinoe curled her right-footed in-swinger just inside the near post for an unassisted goal. Canada had several players in the vicinity, but the ball snuck through several defenders and the goalkeeper.

The match then saw three goals in a six-minute span starting in the 67th when Tancredi’s cross from the left wing found the head of Sinclair, who made a great run before powering her header into the lower left corner for the 2-1 lead.

Rapinoe brought the USA level again in the 70th minute on a world class strike from distance. O’Hara crossed all the way from the left side of the field over to Rapinoe just above the right side of the penalty box. She took a settling touch in front of Canada defender Nault and then unleashed a thrilling long-distance strike that deflected off the left post and ricocheted into the right netting.

Three minutes later, however, Canada scored off a set piece chance. Midfielder Kaylyn Kyle took the corner kick from the left and Sinclair completed her hat trick with another header, rising over her mark to place the ball inside the left over leaping U.S. defender Amy LePeilbet. The strike gave Sinclair 143 career goals and briefly moved her past Wambach for second on the all-time women’s goal-scoring list behind only Mia Hamm (158 career goals).

Like everything else during Monday’s game, things changed on a dime as Wambach would tie Sinclair with her 143rd career international goal by burying a penalty kick in the 80th minute.

Referee Christina Pedersen had warned McLeod for time wasting earlier in the match and finally penalized her with a whistle for unsportsmanlike conduct, giving the USA an indirect free-kick a couple yards inside the penalty area. Tobin Heath tapped the free kick to the right and Carli Lloyd took a right-footed shot that hit Nault’s arm. Pederson did not hesitate to point to the spot.

Wambach calmly placed the penalty kick to the left side of the net past the diving McLeod.

The USA had a great chance to gain the lead in regulation when Morgan eluded her defender and forced McLeod to commit toward her at the near post in the 85th minute. Morgan crossed the ball toward the right side of the box where Wambach was crashing, but she pushed her sliding shot wide right of the net.

The match then went into two 15-minute overtime periods and both sides had chances. In the 100th minute, Wambach had a snap header that she directed toward the near right post but McLeod pounced on the shot.

In the 102nd minute, Canada earned a dangerous free kick just a few feet outside the right side of the penalty area, but Diana Matheson’s service went over everyone and wide left of the goal. In the 104th minute, Matheson made a strong run down the right side and saw Sinclair in the middle of the box, but Rachel Buehler broke up the attack for a corner kick.

In the second overtime, O’Reilly darted into the box and was just a shade out of reach on Morgan’s cross from the left that got past McLeod in the 117th minute. Two minutes later, Morgan set up Wambach for a looping header that hit the crossbar.

With the match looking destined for penalty kicks, Morgan had her moment of brilliance and the USA team now prepares for Japan in the gold medal game. The two sides battled in the championship of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, where the U.S. had two different leads but Japan eventually triumphed in the penalty kick shootout.

Additional Notes:

Alex Morgan scored the 30th goal of her young career, moving into a third-place tie with Brandi Chastain for 15th place in career U.S. WNT tallies.
Morgan has a team-high 20 goals this year, moving into a tie for fourth place on the all-time list for goals during a calendar year with Mia Hamm (1998), Kristine Lilly (1999) and Abby Wambach (2007), who all had 20 goals in their respective campaigns.
The USA improved to 93-2-5 all-time when Wambach scores a goal.
In games where Morgan and Wambach have both contributed at least one goal, the team is now 9-0-0 this year.
The U.S. improved to 389-57-54 all-time in its 500th international match on Monday.
Defender Christie Rampone played in her 21st career Olympic match.
The USA has won gold in three out of the four Olympic women’s soccer tournaments that have been contested previously while also taking a silver medal in 2000.
Becky Sauerbrunn entered the game in the 110th minute – seeing action in her second game of the tournament – and played an excellent 10 minutes to help the USA to victory.
– U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report –

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Canada
Date: Aug. 6, 2012
Competition: 2012 Olympic Games; Semifinal
Venue: Old Trafford; Manchester, England
Kickoff: 7:45 p.m. local (2:45 p.m. ET)
Attendance: 26,640
Weather: 66 degrees, mostly cloudy

Scoring Summary: 1 2 ET1 ET2 F
USA 0 3 0 1 4
CAN 1 2 0 0 3

CAN – Christine Sinclair (Melissa Tancredi) 22nd minute
USA – Megan Rapinoe 54
CAN – Christine Sinclair (Melissa Tancredi) 67
USA – Megan Rapinoe (Kelley O’Hara) 70
CAN – Christine Sinclair (Kaylyn Kyle) 73
USA – Abby Wambach (penalty kick) 80
USA – Alex Morgan (Heather O’Reilly) 120+3

USA: 1-Hope Solo; 6-Amy LePeilbet (11-Sydney Leroux, 76), 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 16-Rachel Buehler (4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 110), 5-Kelley O’Hara; 15-Megan Rapinoe, 10-Carli Lloyd, 12-Lauren Cheney (9-Heather O’Reilly, 101), 17-Tobin Heath; 13-Alex Morgan, 14-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 2-Heather Mitts, 7-Shannon Boxx, 8-Amy Rodriguez, 18-Nicole Barnhart
Head coach: Pia Sundhage

CAN: 18-Erin McLeod; 7-Rhian Wilkinson, 4-Carmelina Moscato, 10-Lauren Sesselmann, 20-Marie-Eve Nault (3-Chelsea Stewart, 101); 8-Diana Matheson, 11-Desiree Scott, 13-Sophie Schmidt; 12-Christine Sinclair, 14-Melissa Tancredi, 16-Jonelle Filigno (6-Kaylyn Kyle, 67)
Subs not used: 1-Karina LeBlanc, 2-Emily Zurrer, 5-Robyn Gayle, 9-Candace Chapman, 15-Kelly Parker, 17-Brittany Timko
Head coach: John Herdman

Statistical Summary: USA / CAN
Shots: 24 / 7
Shots on Goal: 11 / 7
Saves: 4 / 7
Corner Kicks: 13 / 5
Fouls: 20 / 22
Offside: 2 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
CAN – Desiree Scott (caution) 60th minute
CAN – Melissa Tancredi (caution) 79

Referee: Christina Pedersen (NOR)
Assistant Referee 1: Hege Steinlund (NOR)
Assistant Referee 2: Lada Rojc (CRO)
Fourth Official: Hong Eun Ah (KOR)

Story (unedited) courtesy of U.S Soccer News Release

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Denise J. Saul is the Founder/President of WSEN-Women's Sports & Entertainment Network.

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