Aug. 9, 2008
By Michael Lewis
Lloyd lifts U.S. to 1st Olympic win, 1-0
Qinhuangdao, China -- The U.S. women rebounded from Wednesday night's disastrous loss to Norway with a solid effort and a 1-0 victory over Japan in its second match of the Olympic soccer tournament Saturday night.
|Carli Lloyd’s goal broke a 117 minute U.S. scoring drought and kept the Americans alive in the Olympics with a 1-0 win.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Carli Lloyd, a bust at last year's Women's World Cup in this same country, gave the U.S. all the scoring it needed with her first big-time goal in the 27th minute.
The win kept alive the Americans' hopes of winning Group G, pending the result of last night's second game of the doubleheader between group leader Norway (1-0-0, three) and New Zealand (0-0-1, one). The Americans (1-1-0, three) lost to the Norwegians, 2-0, in the worst performance by them in four Olympic soccer tournaments. Japan (0-1-1) has one point.
While it was hardly a dominating performance, the U.S. needed a positive result to continue its quest to reach the medal round and give it a much-needed morale boost.
The Americans play New Zealand in their final opening-round match in Shenyang Tuesday.
The U.S. definitely played with much more confidence and was much looser in this encounter. It certainly helped that the Americans did not give up any early goals; they trailed 2-0 four minutes into Wednesday's loss. This time around goalkeeper Hope Solo and her back four kept a clean sheet.
In contrast to their horrendous start against the Norwegians Wednesday, the U.S. made sure Japan did not get any opportunities in the early going as they had the first two chances.
As the game wore on, the U.S. started to attack more often.
First, Amy Rodriguez, starting in place of Natasha Kai, headed a bloop shot wide right in the fourth minute.
Four minutes later, Heather O'Reilly sent a right-wing cross to Angela Hucles in front of the goal, but a Japanese defender managed to clear it for a U.S. corner kick.
Lindsey Tarpley finally made goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto earn her pay with an 18-yard shot that the keep had to dive to her left to catch in the ninth minute.
After the first 10 minutes, Japan started to push up. Defender Yukan Kinga, who had overlapped from the right side, sent a ball from a difficult angle wide left of the U.S. net and goalkeeper Hope Solo in the 14th minute.
Now it was Japan's turn to make Solo work. First, she had to tip Homare Sawa's 18-yard free kick from the left side with her right hand over the net in the 22nd minute. She was called on barely a minute later to catch Sawa's line-drive shot from the right side after she intercepted a poor clearance from defender Christie Rampone.
The U.S. finally broke through for its first goal of the tournament in the 27th minute. After a Stephanie Cox left-wing cross into the penalty area bounced through players on both teams, former Rutgers midfield standout Lloyd took possession of the ball and powered a high shot into the upper left corner of the net from the top of the box for a 1-0 American advantage.
The goal from the Delran, N.J. native broke the longest scoring drought for a U.S. women's team from the start of an Olympic tournament -- 117 minutes -- in four competitions dating back to 1996.
Cox, who replaced the injured Lori Chalupny against Norway, started her first game of the tournament at left back.
After a couple of give-and-go passes from teammates, Japan's Yuki Nagasato broke through a couple of defenders on the right side of the penalty area and sent a shot across the goalmouth that was far from going on target in the 33rd minute.
The Americans tried to double their lead in the 42nd minute as a through-ball from midfielder Shannon Boxx found Rodriguez streaking down the right wing. However, her 16-yard shot, which looked like an attempted chip shot, was easily caught by Fukumoto.
The U.S. just could not get that elusive second goal. The Americans had several opportunities in the second half. Rodriguez was alone on the right side in the 80th minute, but just missed wide right