Lloyd brace lifts USWNT to victory over Japan in gold medal game

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photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

A dream tournament ended with a dream result for the U.S. women's national team.

A year after losing to Japan in the World Cup final, the United States exacted revenge en route to claiming the gold medal in the Olympic final by defeating the Japanese, 2-1, at a sold-out Wembley Stadium on Thursday. Carli Lloyd led the way with goals on each side of halftime and goalkeeper Hope Solo made a handful of fine saves to prevent Japan from rallying in a back-and-forth tournament finale.

Lloyd netted early in each half before Yuki Ogimi buried a chance from close range to pull Japan within a goal with nearly half-an-hour of play left. But the United States put the game away, with Solo leading the charge with a key performance.

The win did not only see Pia Sundhage's team avenge their stinging penalty kick loss from last summer, but it also marked a perfect tournament for the Americans. The U.S. team finished the Olympics perfect at 6-0 with 16 goals scored and only six surrendered.

The United States got off to a flying start in the match, as Lloyd headed home the opener in the eighth minute. Alex Morgan got on the end of a pass inside the penalty area and she delivered a no-look cross to the center, where a streaking Lloyd met the ball and placed it into the back of the net.

Japan settled after that and took more control of possession in an open first half that saw both teams get denied by the posts. But the Japanese, which looked the more dangerous side when halftime rolled around, allowed Lloyd to score again nine minutes after the intermission.

After a nice sequence of passes, Lloyd received the ball and made a diagonal run to the right. She then rifled a cross-body shot that beat outstretched Japan goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto and snuck inside the far post in the 54th minute to double the Americans' advantage.

The Japanese would make things interesting, however. Ogimi put away a low cross in the 63rd minute after some poor defending by the U.S. team. But the desperate Japan side never found an equalizer thanks to the veteran Solo, who thwarted away a number of fine chances from Japan to help the United States get redemption and the gold medals.

——

What do you think of the United States winning the gold medal by beating Japan? Who impressed you the most? Has this tournament given you a new-found respect for the USWNT?

Share your thoughts below.

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69 Responses to Lloyd brace lifts USWNT to victory over Japan in gold medal game

  1. Dinho says:

    I said this early on…. the Boxx injury was a blessing in disguise for the women.

    Carli Lloyd is an absolute stud.

  2. Wobach is amazing as is every lady on that team. They were super athletes playing against simple soccer players….

  3. Conrad says:

    God, was that a great game. Two amazing teams, and you could easily argue that Japan was better, at least for much of the game. And Dinho, I think you’re right about Boxx — we had hardly any midfield play in the first half.
    Great game. Very proud of this team.

  4. Kevin_amold says:

    What a great, pulsating game. The better team won today, in my view, but Japan were worthy opponents.

    Lloyd’s second goal was great stuff.

  5. deepvalue says:

    Carli played like a rockstar. I was saying “pass” as she unleashed the fury into the side netting. Almost swallowed my tongue when Rapinoe came out. Sure enough, not a lot of good happened afterwards.

    Lip read Buehler saying, “I can’t think” as she came out. Pretty sure she had a concussion as a result of the Hope Solo with Japan on the side sandwich.

    Great game USWNT. So many players stepped up it was awesome!

  6. Ryan Nanez says:

    carli lloyd kelley ohara and the best of all alex morgan <3<3<3

  7. ld says:

    The MVP for the USA has to be the referee of their final 2 games

  8. beachbum says:

    Agree. This has been mentioned already but there is no doubt her injury was serendipity for the team, no disrespect to Boxx. Lloyd’s performance was undeniable. What a player, cemented in history now :)

  9. Conrad says:

    Wow, Id, that’s a lot of bitterness you’re holding there. I have two suggestions: One, yoga. Just let it go. Two, wait till adolescence is over.

  10. beachbum says:

    It’s another game as proof that possession does not win games, creating and finishing chances does. Possession might do it but might not; the better team does not necessarily equal the team with more possession skills

    And great goal keeping :)

  11. hogatroge says:

    Glad for the result, but I think it’s colored by 2 clear PKs denied to Japan (Heath handball, football tackle in box on Japanese attacker).

    I like winning, but I don’t like doing so amidst controversy.

  12. ld says:

    Let it go? Tell that to the plethora of USA fans who still complain about a Torsten Frings handball 10 years ago…I suggest you take your homer blinders off and admit that I am right

  13. Adi from Oregon says:

    This was a very interesting, hard-fought and close game. But Japan had some very good chances to tie or even win this final Olympic game. So, the wearing of the “ugly” Nike T-shirts after the game doesn’t reflect well on this game or the US women soccer team in general. I personally don’t believe that the US women’s “Greatness has been found”! For example, this team still needs to improve itself in ball handling skills and applying better team strategies.

  14. Great game, both teams played really well. Sold out Wembley! That is amazing stuff. And Hope Solo was a rock star today. And that Alex “baby-horse” Morgan sure is fast, and very skillful. Is there a player of the tournament award? I’m torn between Rapinoe getting it or Wambach.

  15. Esteban de la Sexface says:

    Great game, but why continue to play Tobin Heath!? Isn’t Heather O’Reilly so much better? I thought Heath was the weakest player on the field for the US consistently, but she continued to play. Any thoughts?

  16. Kevin_amold says:

    I’m with you on the handball, not so much on the “football tackle.”

    Sometimes you get lucky.

  17. Kevin_amold says:

    Oy.

  18. Kejsare says:

    Both teams were leaking goals. Ref wasn’t the primary issue for either teams’ win or loss.

  19. Conrad says:

    The Torsten Frings point is interesting. It’s a similar situation: an upstart side playing over its head with a real chance to win (US v. Germany) whose outcome seemed to turn on an unfair play. But I honestly don’t know anyone who still talks about a game from 2002.

    Second — can I assume you are Canadian? I understand your pain, but the US players didn’t make the call that gave the team a chance to TIE. The Canadian team played with incredible heart (and a fair amount of dirtiness). But your reaction is not rational. You choose to ignore the red-card head stomp of Cari Lloyd by Melissa Tancredi; so, too, did the referee, and therefore, there’s nothing to be said about it. Calls go either way, but to spew invective against the US players is somehow to suggest that the referee didn’t simply make a weird (or terrible, sure!) decision, but that the referee was in fact cheating. And that — while tempting in the moment — makes you look juvenile.

  20. biff says:

    +1, and also Rachel Buehler on each corner/free kick literally wrapping her strong arms tightly around a Japanese player and the ref allowing her to get away with it time and time again. Tobin Heath’s handball was an embarrassment for a USWNT fan, even worse than Rapinhoe’s against Canada. (The ref was not so afraind to call a Carli Lloyd handball—outside the penalty box). I got the feeling the US women against Canada and Japan had consciously decided they were going to do anything needed to win, even if it meant—-, how shall we say, doing the wrong thing. I was sorry to see this.

    Off topic: Terrence Boyd today got a penalty kick call in stoppage time for a winning PK and then a few minutes later scored a goal himself to put Rapid Vienna into the next round of the Europa Leauge. It was a wild physical match with Boyd mixing it up (and getting a yellow card) with a huge opposing player, who was totally pi$$ed and 90 seconds later got red-carded for a potentially led-breaking tackle.

  21. Shark says:

    Take your off too my friend from Canada ( I have a sneeking feeling that is where you are from).

    Melissa Tancredi stopmed Carly Lloyd on the head in minute 54 and should have had a staright red…but got away with it…nuff said…

    Suggest you do the same…take your homer blinders off too….

    Get over it you lost and Canada and her fans are looking bad as they continue to whine and whine…

  22. Dinho says:

    For sure, no disrespect. Boxx put in her time over the years, but I think it’s time for her to hang up the boots. I prefer Cheney to her any day, and I’d also like to see Rapinoe in the center midfield.

    I know, I know, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but Rapinoe is the best (complete) women’s player I’ve seen since Marta.

  23. RNG says:

    Heath for vision and touch, HAO for determination and speed.
    But it was Heath’s pass that set up Morgan’s cross and the first goal.

  24. Ed says:

    For me, part of the drama of soccer is that the officiating is never quite right. Refs are oh so human. Arguing about calls is part of being a fan.

    After the first 15 minutes I thought Japan looked faster. I think that was in part a carry over from that massive game against Canada. Some of the turn overs were sending slow passes and underestimating the Japanese speed.

    They were still paying for Canada when they beat Japan. So what if it was not like FC Barcelona? Today when it mattered most, they were the best women’s team on earth! Enjoy your gold USWNT!

  25. JW says:

    I thought the US was the better side in the World Cup, and perhaps Japan was the better side here. Each has a trophy… that’s the right result.

    This is my favorite current rivalry in sports. Two teams at the top of the game that play hard, but clean, provide good entertainment and genuinely have a good camaraderie. Reminds me of Bird/Magic.

  26. Tim F. says:

    In the second half, Alex led a breakaway but Amy was wide open and should have been fed the ball; if Amy had scored it would have been 3-0.

    Did others think Alex should have passed the ball?

  27. Joseph D'Hippolito says:

    I hope the 2007 Bitch Brigade (Wambach, Rampone, Boxx, O’Reilly) realizes that if Brianna Scurry were in the net, Japan would have won the gold medal.

    Solo not only shut down the Japanese. She shut up the people who tormented her five years ago.

    BTW, Rampone, nice giveaway in your own end that almost resulted in Iwabuchi scoring. Can you retire from the WNT, now, pleeeeeeeeeeeze????

  28. Old School says:

    I prefer Heath on the field to look at.

    Your username tells me you’ll see my point.

  29. Joseph D'Hippolito says:

    +10

  30. Smpl says:

    I’m wondering why FIFA didn’t step in and suspend Tancredi for that head stomp? They looked at the video and suspended Andrade for 2 games, surely Tancredi deserved no less…

  31. Hilltopper says:

    You should not put those 3 together since Kelley Ohara and Alex Morgan are too beautifulnext to Carli Loyd

  32. M says:

    To all haters were the Ref’s from the USA ??

  33. GW says:

    Scurry is 40 and has not played a competitive game since 2010. I know she was great and all but to put her that game after all this time would have been insane.

    I did notice that Brandi waited as long as humanly possible to complement Solo (and did it as quietly as possible)after Rampone got stripped in the 82nd minute.

    Had that happened to Bocanegra, this board would have exploded with outrage and sought Los’ head on a platter.

    Had Japan scored on that, and they should have, I’m thinking they go on to win.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a talented team seem to be completely incapable of making a defensive clearance. They had to have been completely gassed.

    This is a seriously flawed team that just seems to be able to find a way to get it done.

    Good for them.

  34. M says:

    Remember the 2010 WC lost..they played a much more technical and possession oriented game. It’s about winning. Alex M pure speed was a good case where speed and athleticism can influence a game.

  35. GW says:

    I think watching a game on TV is very different from actually being in it and having to make an instantaneous decision.

    Just because you could see who was open does not mean Alex could.

    Furthermore Alex makes her living by making something out of nothing so if she takes a few impossible chances that is just part of the deal. I’ve seen greater players than her do exactly the same thing in that situation.

    It it not a big deal.

  36. GW says:

    Some company from Oregon made them wear those tacky shirts. Corporate values, very American.

  37. Scott says:

    Agree. Hate to say it but the US backline is comically bad.

    The US had greatness up top in 2 strikers. 1 outstanding flank player and the best goalkeeper. Other than that, average at best. Probably get ripped for not including Lloyd but I just don’t think she’s a great player. I know she scored twice today and has scored big goals in the past, I still don’t fancy her.

  38. Conrad says:

    Has FIFA ruled yet?

  39. Roy says:

    Oh, yes. She should have passed both times. She had poor angles to shoot. I remember seeing in the latter example she should have seen and heard the call for a pass.

    If she didn’t see the option the first time, she needs to look up more. I like Morgan a lot, but she made those errors.

  40. pd says:

    Game for the ages. A truly inspiring group of players. And yet we can sustain a pro league…

  41. pd says:

    Game for the ages. A truly inspiring group of players. And yet we can sustain a pro league…

  42. jonny P says:

    Hey Joseph,
    Solo tortured? She is a good keeper but SHE is the one who doesn’t know when to keep her mouth shut.

    Now as an American I am happy with the game. As a soccer fan, not so much.

    We do not play good soccer. We have good players, AMAZING athletes but in all honesty, Japan is better coached and has a much better idea of how to play the game. With the resources and sheer numbers of players that we have we should be destroying teams like Japan and Canada.
    Please only the real soccer people respond because you know that I am right

  43. sagcat says:

    Heath’s handball should have been called, but I don’t see why we have to be embarrassed about it. Had it been called, the game would have played out differently, sure, but it could have ended up 6-1 USA instead. You never know how those things are going to affect a game.

  44. shane says:

    +1 agree . . . The Gold feels a bit tainted if your a real fan of soccer. Heath’s handball was blatant.

  45. BrianK says:

    Jonny P,

    Interesting observations. I agree. Do me a favor. Why don’t you contact the USSF and ask them why the US Development Academy program is exclusively for men. Seriously.

    They will tell you that having a development program for men and no such thing for women is equitable! Furthermore, they will point to the WUSNT and claim we are already producing elite players.

  46. Jonny P says:

    BrianK
    1. We base so much on athleticism. The way we play was set in place 20 years ago by Dorrance and Dicco, who in my opinion set the women’s game back A LOT
    2. I will ask US soccer but I will tell you that the Development Academy for the boys will not get us to the next level

  47. Lava lamp says:

    Referee’s tend to keep the red card in their pocket during huge games. In other sports, a world record holder seldom gets disqualified (Ben Johnson and a Russian fencer are about the only two I can think of). Whether its fair or not, referees are not going to make a call that gives another team a huge advantage. The “Hand of God” play should be evidence enough.

  48. jlm says:

    I agree, Adi. Congrats to this generation of players, which Abby has led tremendously, but I am unimpressed with Pia’s tactics.

  49. Grant says:

    Definitely have to reply and disagree with you. Tobin Heath is a beast! The handball was a shame, but she is a workhorse and a pure midfielder. She doesn’t get the press or attention as other players, but bookmark her and in 3-5 years, easily the best USWNT player. As for the weakest link on the field, Rapinoe played horribly and was finally subbed. Strange because she’s usually a very good player. Maybe not mentally there at the final.

  50. Rich says:

    I agree about Lloyd. She scored a great goal vs Brazil…disappeared for 4 years (especially here in Chicago on the Red Stars)…then showed up again in the Olympic tournament. I thought the defense was backing up and giving the attackers too much space. Our center backs were the weakest…I was surprised by how well converted forward O’Hara did at left back. We got lucky that Box got hurt. And we need to get Leroux on the field. As for the incident with Hope and the team…the first thing Pia did was get the team to move past that and start with a clean slate…I think the fans need to let that go also. Hope’s father had just passed away. She even put some of his ashes in the goal box. It was obviously an emotional time and she does tend to speak her mind. If she was able to let it go then the rest of us should too.

  51. beachbum says:

    Disagree.

    Many ways to play the game and win. Good soccer uses the tactics that fit the team best, not the style of play one believes is universally best

    That is what real soccer people Know is true

  52. There is no need for the USSF DA on the girls’ side of the game. As evidence I offer the fact that the USWNT was in the World Cup Final last year and won gold at the Olympics yesterday. Why do you feel the need to change a system that so clearly works.

    Past that, you are ignoring that youth players on the girl’s side of the game play for different reasons and have different motivations. With no professional leagues to make a living in, youth players have college as their ultimate goal – as it should be – and aren’t in need of a structure like the USSF DA to get there.

  53. You think Anson Dorrance and Tony Diccio set the women’s game BACK? Really? You should stop commenting on women’s soccer. No coach in the world knows more about the women’s game than Dorrance.

  54. jonny P says:

    Ok tactics are one thing but playing style is another. Tactics can be taught by any coach in a short period of time but playing the game the right way, that takes a special coach and system and we just don’t have that in the womens game.
    Our players grew up in a system that places emphasis on bigger, stronger, faster and tougher. This style of play was brought in by Dorrance who became the guru of womens soccer. All good soccer starts with the concept of keeping possession for sustained periods of time. If you cannot do that, you resort to tactics. Japan, France, Brazil and a few others know how to keep possession and in the years to come will give us a run for our money but will fall short because they don’t have the number of players in a player pool or, in Brazil’s case, they really don’t take it seriously.
    Essentially, we are one of only a handful of countries that take women’s soccer seriously (in terms of finance, media exposure)and our resources and player pool is such that no one should even come close to beating us.
    I don’t want to dampen the tremendous victory and effort by the US. They are true champions.
    I will just say that this playing style is not what “real” soccer people want.

    Why do you think so many women’s professional leagues have failed?

  55. jonny P says:

    Great college coach, one of the most successful college coaches in any sport. However, the emphasis on bigger, faster stronger that he has gotten coaches in this country to buy into has come to hurt the women’s game in numerous ways. We are one of a few countries to take women’s soccer seriouly. Brazil brought 5 (that’s right, FIVE) media members to the last World Cup. Yesterday’s game and the game against Canada were classics and exciting to watch. I am proud of the team for representing our country in such a heroic manner. But the style that we play in this country is not that great.
    This is why we have failed miserably at a women’s profesisonal league.

  56. Matt says:

    The funny thing is, the United States had a much more posession oriented style in the last world cup playing with the 4-5-1. In fact they were playing very very good possession soccer. You also have to look at the fact that Japan’s style is the womens equivalent to Barcelona and Spain, whom even if they play an extremely possession oriented team they will ALWAYS and ALWAYS have dominated the possession stat. Teams play styles that fit the types of players they have. the EPL for example is not really a possession league.

    In fact, it takes a brilliant coach to put their players in a system that works best for the collective styles of the players on their roster, which is what Pia has done, switching from the direct style to the 4-5-1 when we showed more depth in the midfield than anywhere else with technical ability and playing a possession style, to switching it to bring Morgan on who will be a prolific scorer.

    The people criticizing the style clearly do not follow the womens game at all, maybe watch the big tournaments and thats it, but no friendlies

  57. jonny P says:

    Nice post Matt. I enjoy talking soccer with people who know the game.
    I will be the first to say that I probably don’t watch as much of the women’s game as you do
    I like Pia. I like her personality and believe that she knows how to win.
    My point is that I am frustrated with both the men and women’s side of US Soccer.
    It is time for a change in leadership,even though we just won the gold medal.
    The mens side would take 4 days for me to go into what we are doing wrong.
    On thhe womens side do you see what I am talking about. I have a pretty good insight into the development of our players particularly on the National youth team side.
    I think that Pia did what she had to do based on the type of players she has.
    This does not mean that we play great soccer.
    If we could possess the ball, holy shite we could absolutely kill teams.
    My point, Matt, is that teams like Japan and especially Canada should not be able to keep the games close with the US.
    Good points and good post

  58. beachbum says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply

    Possession is important, yes, but not the basis of success and certainly not the lone definition of good soccer which is what I would call a misconception. Italy has long relied on other strengths AND possession, but not possession as defining good soccer.

    Possession is great soccer when playing with a lead but not requisite for building one, and perhaps the biggest mistake a team can make is to try and create a lead, create chances, thru possession when the pieces are not there

    You play to your strengths, period, not to some ideal…wasnt Rumenigge an overpowering beast? Yes, and it was ALSO good soccer…he was one of my first favorite players btw, and I do love the power game, and I am as real a soccer person as it gets

    The Brazilian women play a rough and tumble game, I don’t know what you’ve been watching over the years, Marta and others notwithstanding

    Please stop with the “real” soccer people stuff, it’s inaccurate BUT the women’s game continues to evolve

  59. beachbum says:

    Right on target Matt, well said

  60. jonny P says:

    You make some good points about possession but we should be able to do both. Teams that can possess and score from counters, from crosses, etc. are not only the best to watch but usually win also. And agree that you play to your strengths.
    Do you see my point that we do not emphasize how to possess, at any level,starting with our US youth national teams. I have seen at least 50 youth national team training sessions and our master plan leaves much to be desired. Having said that, we won the gold but my point is that given our large player pool, financial resources, athletes and media exposure no one should even be close in terms of winning and “style” of play.

  61. josh says:

    Well said, and I’ll wager ld will oddly disappear.

  62. josh says:

    As regards Rampone, keep in mind, this is pretty much it for women soccer players. There isn’t the option that older male players have to retire from internt’l football and focus on club. I get that she is past her best days, but I understand why she might keep making herself available. And if the coach picks her, that isn’t her fault. She retires from WMNT, and high-level soccer is over for her.

  63. Paula says:

    Possession was 50-50 for much of the World Cup final in 2011, but the match went to pens because they couldn’t finish any of their early chances(much like Japan in this match).

  64. Paula says:

    I saw the Buehler thing — have to say it didn’t stop the Japanese player from crashing headlong into Hope Solo while she was saving the ball. From the replay, it could have been interpreted as an intentional foul on the goalie.

  65. Joseph D'Hippolito says:

    +100

  66. Joseph D'Hippolito says:

    “Solo tortured? She is a good keeper but SHE is the one who doesn’t know when to keep her mouth shut.”

    jonny p, the fact that Solo needs more discretion and discernment about her public remarks does *NOT* justify the way her “teammates” treated her in 2007. Never!

    After Solo said that she could have stopped the shots that Scurry didn’t in that 2007 WWC semi against Brazil, her teammates isolated and shunned her. They didn’t even allow her to train with them, let alone play in the third-place game. They made her eat by herself and fly home by herself. They even told her to stand in the tunnel when the national anthem played for pre-game introductions! I’m sorry but that’s cruel. Solo did *nothing* to deserve that. That’s why as long as Wambat, Rapoon, Boxx and O’Reilly are on the WNT, I will not support it.

  67. Joseph D'Hippolito says:

    GW, my reference to Scurry relates to the 2007 WWC, when U.S. coach Greg Ryan benched Solo in favor of Scurry for the semi against Brazil because Scurry did such a great job against Brazil in the 2004 Olympics. Well, Brazil routed the U.S. in that semi, 4-0, and Scurry was horrible. After the game, CBC interviewed Solo in the mixed zone; Solo said that she could have stopped those shots and that “it’s not 2004 anymore.” *Any* truly competitive athlete in the same position would have thought the same thing. Solo just committed the unpardonable sin of actually saying what she thought.

    As far as Chastain goes, her behavior reflects what I said when Solo criticized her on Twitter: Solo’s comments reflect some long-held animosity between the two. If Chastain waited to compliment Solo for an outstading save because of that animosity, then she *should* be fired.

  68. jonny P says:

    You go man! I eat my words! Solo’s statements in the press are better than a Saturday Night Live skit.
    Anyone who admits to being conceived in prison on a conjugal visit from mom should never be censored. I want to hear everything about that trip that mom made from the time she signed the visitors sheet until she got in the car to come home. Boy,talk about a stringent prison security network!

    To be honest, she got off easy. Can you imagine if Roy Keane was her teammate and she said those things about another player?

    Not to worry about eating alone. She would not have been able to eat for weeks.

  69. beachbum says:

    It’s ok to use athletes and promote athleticism, it’s ok to play a style that wins. Sorry man, but your points ring hollow considering the hardware the US women have earned. Again, you play to your strengths…whoever does that best gets the nod. Your insistence that the US women don’t play good soccer simply does not compute although you don’t get that. Whatever

    I find it funny that you self-claim so much insight into the beautiful game yet keep insisting that one of the most dominant teams on the planet, in any sport male or female, don’t play their game well. Come on man

    On developing talent, it’s evolving every day, and frankly, if every country had the physicality and power game of the US women they would play similarly if they were smart. The fact is that they dont so they can’t

    There are MANY succssful styles to the beautiful game depending on the athletes’ abilities, it’s not one size fits all. Not sure you understand that. Japan women play beautifully…as do the Americans!