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USA Wins First Match of the Olympics

The French raced out to a 2-0 lead within the first fifteen minutes, and it looked as if the Olympic jitters may have set the US back a bit. Once the team settled down, they looked more like the USWNT that we have come to expect. Abby Wambach opened the USA scoring with a header from a Megan Rapinoe corner kick service in the 18th minute. That seemed to relieve the sudden pressure on the ladies in navy blue tops and matching shorts. They seemed to relax a little more, and started putting more consistent pressure on the French back line.

The French were not going down without a fantastic fight though, and most of the match was fast breaks, and end to end battling. Both keepers were tested, and both back lines made errors. The French even made a great goal line save when the keeper was caught out of position in the 50th minute on a Rapinoe corner kick to Wambach.

Alex Morgan scored on a fabulous chip shot over their keeper in the 31st minute. She was running in back of the French back line, and had Abby Wambach hit the ball with her head as she had tried, the goal would not have stood, because Alex would have been called offside. Because Abby missed on her flick attempt, the goal stood, with the assist going to Hope Solo. The teams went into the locker rooms tied at the half. We lost Shannon Boxx to a hamstring injury in the 17th minute. Carli Lloyd came in to replace her, which changed the flow of the game through the middle.

Megan Rapinoe hit her grove in the second half, and caused a lot of problems for the French. Her vision and passing strength opened the game up for the USA. In the 56th minute she dished the ball to Carli Lloyd who blasted a shot from well outside the 18 for the winning goal. In the 66th minute, Rapinoe saw a wide open Tobin Heath, who passed it across the front of the net for a crashing Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan to slot home. Abby missed, but Alex didn’t. The score was 4-2, which is where it would stay.

After the match, Coach Pia Sundhage said, "You can’t look at only the first minutes or the last minutes, it’s the whole game. If you look at the whole game, I’m really proud of the team. Scoring four goals, and goals that were fantastic, that’s one way to prove that you are ready (for the Olympics). It was a little shaky beginning, but I think it was amazing the way we came back and responded to those two goals." (Quote courtesy of US Soccer press release.)

USA Will Continue Group G Play Against Colombia on July 28 in Glasgow, Scotland, in a Match Broadcast on NBC Sports Network at Nine AM PST.

In other Group G play today, Colombia lost to North Korea, with Song Hui Kim scoring both goals for North Korea.

In group F today, Japan beat Canada 2-1 and Sweden beat South Africa 4-1 with Schelin getting the brace.

In group E host nation Great Britain beat New Zealand 1-0. Brazil beat Cameroon 5-0 with superstar Marta getting the brace.

Here are some notes from the USA press release regarding today’s game:

  • The USA took just eight shots in the hard-fought match (to France’s nine), but scored on half of them and putting seven on goal.
  • This was the first time in Olympic play that the U.S. Women’s National Team had come back to win from a two goal deficit. In fact, in the Olympics, the USA has allowed more than one goal only three times – a 2-3 loss to Norway in 2000 gold medal game, a 0-2 loss to Norway in opening game of 2008 Olympics and a 4-2 victory over Japan in the semifinal match in 2008 (the USA was down 1-0 before scoring four straight).
  • Alex Morgan’s two goals upped her total to 19 in 2012, tying her for the sixth best yearly total in U.S. history with April Heinrichs, Mia Hamm and Cindy Parlow.
  • Hope Solo’s assist on Morgan’s first goal against France is the first international assist of her career since debuting for the team in 2000.
  • Seven U.S. players made their Olympic debuts on Wednesday: left back Kelley O’Hara, right back Amy LePeilbet, midfielders Lauren Cheney, Tobin Heath and Megan Rapinoe and forwards Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux.

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