Newcastle, England (August 3, 2012)-Sydney Leroux needed only seven minutes in the quarterfinal match against New Zealand to show why she is one of the hottest young players on the U.S. Women’s National Team. With the U.S. leading by only one goal, Leroux added her first Olympic goal in the 87th minute of play to seal the victory and punch the team’s ticket to the semifinals on Monday.
With a final score of 2-0 the U.S. women will play in a record fifth Olympic semifinal as they seek to defend their Olympic gold medal and solidify their place as the best team in the world.
Veteran Abby Wambach scored the first goal of the game with an assist from fellow forward Alex Morgan in the 27th minute. A great pass through three Kiwi defenders to set Wambach up to strike it past goalkeeper Jenny Bidon from about six yards out gave the U.S. the lead that they would not relinquish. This marks Wambach 142nd international goal and she now has scored in each game so far in these Olympics for the U.S.
It was a game that was riddled with opportunities for the U.S. team as they controlled the ball throughout the game and saw countless chances to score just miss. Morgan had the best chance to give the U.S. the lead early in the first half when she missed a goal just wide right as she tried to slip a shot past Bidon after successfully getting past the entire defensive line. Morgan had a very frustrating day as she could not convert several chances throughout the game and then had a cringe worthy moment in the second half when she collided square on with Bidon. It was a collision that sent Morgan’s knee squarely into Bidon’s face causing the need for the team trainers to rush on to the field to attend to the goalkeeper. No foul was called on the play and both players were able to return to the game.
For the twenty-two year old Leroux, today gave fans a glimpse at the future of this team as Leroux provided the much needed insurance goal that surely gives the U.S. women some extra confidence as they now prepare for their semifinal match. Leroux is the only member of the team that was not on the roster last summer for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. However she seemed to impress Coach Pia Sundhage during the CONCACAF tournament this past January when she scored five goals in a 13-0 rout of Guatemala.
Sundhage had this to say about her young forward after the game:
“Her attitude is great on both sides of the ball. She’s not only fast, but she’s strong and committed. She knows her role. We talked about that from the beginning. In order to help the team it’s coming off the bench . . .today she gave us a little more outside the box and was a great fighter. It reminds me a little bit of last year of Alex Morgan coming off the bench. This is a little bit different, but a similar idea. She gains confidence; I gain confidence and the team gains confidence with the way she is playing.”
Wambach added her thoughts about Leroux and her late goal:
“For a kid like Syd to come in, she’s got no expectations. Her job is to come in and make things miserable for their back line, pressure them and run. She did just that. She did her job and it paid off for her. She gets a great goal. We needed that goal. That’s a breather. You never know what’s going to happen with a one-goal lead. She had the most sincere celebration and it’s because I don’t know if she could believe that she just scored a goal in the Olympic Games. It made me emotional because that’s what’s special about being in the Olympics – seeing a kid come in, perform and do something that they didn’t even think was possible. It was brilliant.”
The team will head back to Manchester, England where they will prepare for another game at Old Trafford with Canada as their opponent in the semifinal. Canada beat Great Britain 2-0 and on the other side of the bracket Japan is still in line to face the U.S. in the final as they beat Brazil 2-0.