In a tough opening match for both teams, the United States Women’s National Team was able to grind out a hard-fought 4-2 victory over a tenacious French team to open up Olympic play.
The win puts the USWNT at the top of Group G and in a strong position to win their group with their toughest opponent now behind them.
Here are five thoughts from the game.
The U.S. victory is worth more than 3 points
Besides giving the United States three points to open up group play, the win over France most likely will help the USWNT avoid world-champion Japan in the quarterfinals.
The victory showed the U.S.’s fighting spirit
The first 20 minutes of the U.S. win was a series of the disasters for the USWNT. Not only did the U.S. give up two goals in the first 15 minutes, putting itself in an enormous hole to start the match, it also lost midfield stalwart Shannon Boxx to a hamstring injury.
However, the U.S. fought back from this horrific start getting both goals back before the half on a header from Abby Wambach and a nicely finished volley from Alex Morgan, before taking control of the game in the second half and finding the win.
U.S. possession improved a lot after the half
In the first half, the U.S. struggled to keep the ball and the French did well to knock the ball around and create plenty of chances for themselves. Most troubling was one series between the 35th and 40th minutes in which the French created three gilt-edge chances for themselves and the U.S couldn’t seem to get a touch on the ball.
However, after the half, with no changes made from U.S. manager Pia Sundhage, the U.S. did much better holding the ball, knocking it around their backline, using their midfield width and generating chances from build-up play rather than long drives up the field.
The U.S.’ depth shone through
The game-winning goal was scored on a tremendous strike from midfielder Carli Lloyd, who has not started the last three games for the U.S. In fact, Lloyd was only brought into the game after Shannon Boxx was forced to leave the game with a hamstring injury.
With the U.S. able to bring world-class players like Carli Lloyd (who had the game-winner in the 2008 Olympic gold-medal game) into the game off the bench, the U.S. proved once again it has the depth needed to carry it out through a tough tournament like the Olympic Games.
Because the Olympic tournament is so compressed, with a team reaching the finals required to play six games in 16 days, and the tougher Olympic roster restrictions, with each team limited to 18 players rather than the normal 21, the depth the U.S. has on the bench could certainly be the edge the U.S. needs to bring home gold.
Alex Morgan gave the French trouble all day
Morgan scored the equalizer on a nice half-volley finish in the 31st minute after the French defense allowed the ball to drop in behind their backline.
She tallied again in the 66th minute to put the game away on a tap-in by being in the right place at the right time.
In addition to the two goals, Morgan was also taken down in the box on two separate occasions (in the 44th and 60th minutes) resulting in two dubious no calls, both of which could have easily been penalties.
John D. Halloran