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.
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!
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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).
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.
Well said, and I’ll wager ld will oddly disappear.
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.
Right on target Matt, well said
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
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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