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Alyssa Naeher’s penalty saves help lead USWNT to Olympic semifinals

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The U.S. women’s national team’s hunt for an Olympic gold medal is still on.

Friday’s dramatic penalty shootout win over the Netherlands went a long way in erasing some of the doubt cast by a humdrum group-stage effort.

Alyssa Naeher was the hero on the day, making three penalty saves in the game, first in the 81st minute to keep the Americans from falling regulation, then two more saves in the penalty shootout.

Naeher’s teammates did the rest, converting all four of their shootout penalties, capped by Megan Rapinoe’s emphatic clincher to secure the USWNT’s place in Monday’s Olympic semifinal against Canada.

 

The USWNT’s penalty shootout triumph capped a dramatic back-and-forth encounter in the rematch of the 2019 World Cup final. The Dutch struck first, through star striker Vivienne Miedema, in the 18th minute against the run of play. The USWNT responded, as Lynn Williams played creator, setting up a Sam Mewis equalizer in what was Williams’ first Olympic start.

Seconds later, Williams found a goal of her own to give the Americans the lead:

Several threatening chances went by, including a handful of razor-thin offside calls.

Ultimately, the long way had to be taken. Things unraveled for the United States in the second half and the Dutch had every reason to believe they would be walking away as the winners.

Miedema’s 54th-minute equalizer set the stage for a wild finish, with the Dutch having a chance to take the lead late in regulation when Kelley O’Hara was whistled for a penalty foul.

Naeher made sure that didn’t happen though, stopping Lieke Martens’ subsequent penalty to keep the match tied, sending it to overtime.

 

Extra time was largely uneventful as both teams were clearly fighting through fatigue in the sweltering Yokohama weather.

Rose Lavelle, Alex Morgan and Christen Press all converted their penalty shootout attempts before Megan Rapinoe’s fearless clincher, ensuring that Naeher’s heroics didn’t go to waste, and setting up yet another Olympic showdown with familiar foe Canada, on Monday.

Comments

  1. gritty. Naeher came through, not just the PKs, but some timely punches and that sliding save off her line to deny Berenstayn. The US had sooooooo many chances in extra time, the Dutch too, and neither team could capitalize. All of the players for both teams looked exhausted. The Olympic format is crazy

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  2. REVENGE!!!! A number of Teams here at the Olympics had/have revenge motivating them against the USWNT. The first was The Netherlands, who, after winning the Euro championship in 2017, had visions of winning both the W/C and Olympic championship. However, after losing the W/C Finals against the USA, The Orange-Women could get no revenge and saw the US end their Olympic Dreams in the quarter-Finals this time.

    Canada has been remembering their Classic but controversial 2012 Olympic Semi-Final against the USA. In that one, Canada was leading 3-2 late in the match thanks to a Hat Trick by Christine Sinclair. But late in the match with Canada running out the clock, the referee cited the Canadian GK for delay of game and awarded the US an indirect Free Kick inside the Canada Penalty Area. The ensuing shot was blocked using an arm, and a PK was awarded, which Abby Wambaugh converted. The match went to O/T and almost to PKs, when Alex Morgan made a leaping header just under the crossbar, and the U. S. went on to win the Gold Medal, which the Canadians say was stolen from them. So, the undefeated Canadians say that revenge is at hand, and it is they, not the USWNT who will face Sweden in the Final.

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  3. It appears that the Women’s Olympic Knockout Round will be similar to the Euro 20-21 Men’s competition with more than half of the matches going into O/T. Of the 8 matches played here with the U. S. and Canada, 5 have been a draw in regulation. That being the case, I am glad that the U.S. got their act together for P/Ks. At one time Alex and Christen were the worst on the team at taking P/Ks. However, it is obvious that our current coaching staff has put an emphasis on the P/Ks, what with half the matches heading that way. I feel that the U. S. can beat Canada, and Sweden can certainly beat Australia, so unfortunately, it appears that the U. S. will face Sweden again in the final.

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  4. US’s best player beside Williams was the Netherlands. US didn’t offer much and Netherlands just would not take the win.

    Naeher is very good but frankly she was real shaky today. All but one PK where awful attempts and that cross bar incident was a calamity saved by offside call (correctly).

    Path to gold is much better with Brazil and GB upset……but the soccer has not been good

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  5. It was a game we deserved to win in spite of the coaching decisions.

    Taking a fresh Lyn Williams off when she was our best player in the first half. Williams had only played 18 minutes before the QF, so she should have been able to go at least 90 and maybe more. She could have provided some defensive cover for Berensteyn.

    Not making any subs for overtime, when we could have brought on two fresh players.

    Tactically, there was much impatience and selfishness. Too many long balls when we could have maintained possession. Too many examples of losing possession by dribbling into a crowd instead of passing to open players. IMO, we ceded too much back at the beginning of the 2nd half, allowing the Dutch to maintain possession and force us back on our heels.

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