London 2012 soccer final: USA beet Japan 2-1

The U.S. women’s soccer team won its third straight Olympic gold medal Thursday, beating Japan 2-1 in a rematch of last year’s World Cup final and avenging the most painful loss in its history.
Carli Lloyd scored early in both halves, Solo leaped and dived to make saves, and the entire roster found the redemption it had been seeking since that penalty kick shootout loss in Germany last summer.
Before 80.203 at Wembley Stadium, a record crowd for a women’s soccer game at the Olympics, the teams put on a back-and-forth, don’t-turn-your-head soccer showcase, proving again that these are the two premier teams in the world. Women’s soccer is still in its formative stages in Britain, but the match proved more than worthy for the hallowed grounds of the beautiful game.
And the Japanese perhaps played just as beautifully as the Americans, using their speed and discipline to dominate possession and scoring chances for long stretches before finally cutting a 2:0 deficit in half with about a half-hour to go.
Back home, America was paying attention – just as it was last year and despite the rest of the Olympic events. Even President Barack Obama, during a campaign speech at Colorado College during the second half of the game, noted that: “The women are doing pretty good right now in soccer.”

London 2012 soccer final: USA beet Japan 2-1
USA beet Japan 2-1.

Golden redemption belongs to the U.S. women’s soccer team after defeating Japan in the gold medal match at the London 2012 Olympics. For Abby Wambach and the U.S. women, the 2:1 win goes a long way toward erasing the stinging defeat to Japan in the final of the 2011 World Cup.
Carli Lloyd opened the scoring for the United States in the 8th minute, capping a relentless run up the middle of the park by heading home a cross from Alex Morgan, the heroine of the U.S. semifinal win over Canada. Wambach was poised in the penalty area waiting to volley the cross but Lloyd burst into the box to nod it past Japanese goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto. The 30-year-old New Jersey native would double the lead in the 54th minute.
“I think I just come up big in big moments. That’s what I’ve trained for” – Lloyd said after game, via The Associated Press. “I worked my butt off day-in and day-out. I don’t think there’s anybody that works harder than I do. I was on a mission this Olympics to prove everybody wrong, and that’s what I did. To show everybody that I belong on the field.”
A star for the U.S. during the 2008 World Cup, Lloyd had fallen out of favor with coach Pia Sundhage and only was called into the starting lineup as an injury replacement earlier in the Olympic tournament. Coming off the bench, Lloyd scored the match-winning goal during the U.S. comeback triumph over France to begin the road to Wembley.
“She proved that I was wrong and that I’m not that perfect” – Sundhage said after Lloyd’s brace provided the winning margin, via Jeff Kassouf of NBC.
The reigning World Cup champions did not fold, pulling a goal back by way of Yuki Ogimi in the 63rd minute. Held at bay by U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo on either side of the intermission, Japan could not find an equalizer.

Midfielder Carli Lloyd scored in both halves — in the eighth and 54th minutes — in what was a virtuoso London comeback for a player who’d lost her starting job just a few weeks before the Games, re-inserted when Shannon Boxx injured her hamstring in the tournament opener. Surprisingly, coach Pia Sundhage had both in the lineup Thusday, taking a gamble on the fitness of Boxx, preferring her physicality over Laura Cheney, who was subbed in later.
Japan’s sharp passing kept coming up for naught, though easily penetrating the American defence again and again, showing off their midfield skills forte and countering quickness. Except then they were usually in Solo’s wheelhouse, the tall goalie utilizing her long reach and agility to smack down Japan’s scoring bids. Solo was manically busy all evening but up to the challenge — friendly woodwork assisting — beaten only once, by Yuki Ogimi in the 63rd minute. In the 83rd minute, the Americans just barely hanging on, Solo flung her entire body at what looked like the equalizer from Asuna Tanaka, off the bench.
She wasn’t exactly modest about her performance afterwards.
“You can’t win a major tournament without some great goalkeeping” – Pause. “The Japanese goalkeeper also made some good saves.”
In the first half, striker Ogimi forced Solo to make two desperate saves in the space of two minutes, first on an eight-yard shot to the far post that captain Christie Rampone cleared and then on a close-range header that Solo miraculously palmed away.
Both teams attacked with abandon in the wild, riveting affair.
Lloyd’s first goal came off a post cross from Alex Morgan, coming out of nowhere to head home, beating Miho Fukumoto from six yards out. Her second, giving the Americans a 2:0 lead, resulted from a long run with the ball through the middle of the Japanese D, a screaming strike from the edge of the box, 20-yard right-footer that tucked inside the left post.
She described it later for reporters: “What I do best is dribbling and making shots from distance. It opened up and I just kept going and just unleashed it. I didn’t think too much and it went in the back of the net.”
But she was clearly overwhelmed by her clutch effort.
“This is pretty crazy. Back in Beijing, I scored the only goal against Brazil (in the final) and now I have scored two goals in the final here. Maybe for my third Olympics, I’m going to have to score a hat trick.’’
In fact she almost did.

One Response to “London 2012 soccer final: USA beet Japan 2-1”

  1. USA! USA! USA! Go! Go! Go!

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