London, England (August 9, 2012)-Carli LLoyd was not even in the starting line up when these Olympic Games began for the U.S. Women’s National Team over two weeks ago. Tonight she is one of the big reasons that they are wearing a gold medal around their necks. She scored both goals for the team as the U.S. Women defeated Japan 2-1.
Playing in front of a record crowd of over 80,000 people at Wembley Stadium, the U.S. women did not repeat the mistakes of last summer when they blew the lead twice en-route to losing to the Japanese at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Instead they were able to hold on to the lead and claim their third consecutive Olympic gold medal.
Lloyd scored early for the Americans in the 8th minute off of a cross from forward Alex Morgan that initially was intended for Abby Wambach but instead found the foot of Lloyd who gave the U.S. the early lead.
Goalkeeper Hope Solo was challenged throughout the first half and had several key saves along with quite a few near misses for the Japanese. Japanese forward Yuki Ogimi nearly had a goal in the 17th minute as she had two shots just miss as the U.S. defense fought hard against a very tactical attacking team.
The second half brought an insurance goal by Lloyd who scored from twenty yards out as she delivered a strike that was far out of the reach of Japanese goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto. Japan however would finally score one of their own when in the 63rd minute Ogimi finally got one to fall past Solo off of an assist from Japanese veteran Homare Sawa.
Despite a late push by the Japanese in the waning minutes, the two goals would be enough for the U.S. Women to claim another gold medal and reassert themselves as the best in the world.
“This was a year’s worth of work and the sacrifices all of us have had to make for our friends and families, for the players that didn’t make the roster, this goes out to all of our fans that cheered us on last summer and were equally as heartbroken as we were,” said U.S. forward Abby Wambach after the game. “This year has been trials and tribulations, we lost to Japan a few times, and this win feels like everything has come full circle. I’m so proud of this team for never giving up. It was a team effort for this entire tournament and it shows what it takes to win championships — it’s teamwork and loyalty and trusting in each other.”
For Carli Lloyd it was only fitting that after losing her starting spot at the beginning of the tournament that she would come through when the team needed her most. She stepped in for Shannon Boxx when she went down with a hamstring injury during the first few minutes of the match against France. Lloyd ended up with three goals this tournament and just like in Bejing when she scored the winning goal, she played the hero again here in London.
“When someone tells me I can’t do something, I’m going to prove them wrong. That’s what a champion is all about and that’s what I am – a champion.” said Lloyd after the game. “I fought harder, dug deeper and I wanted to make all those doubters out there wrong and that’s what I did.”
For the U.S. women the win tonight will now hopefully begin to ease the sting of the painful loss of last summer. No doubt they will clash with Japan again in the near future, but tonight they proved that for now they are the best in the world.