Glasgow, Scotland (July 25, 2012)-The U.S. women were looking for a fast start against France to open Group G in their first game of the 2012 London Olympics. However a talented French team still bitter after their semi-final loss to the U.S. last year at the FIFA’s Women’s World Cup, clearly had other ideas. Though the final score may indicate otherwise with the U.S. taking the game 4-2, the American side had their hands full with a French team that started strong and needed a forceful second half from the U.S. National Team.
The U.S. team started with their favored 4-4-2 formation featuring Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan on top with veteran defender Christie Rampone making her fourth Olympic appearance anchoring the backline. The defense however looked muddled at the start of the game and paid for it in the 12th minute when France took a 1-0 lead. French forward Gaetane Thiney caught a pass from one of her defenders and drilled a shot from 22 yards out past a confused U.S. defense and goalkeeper Hope Solo who made a futile dive for the ball.
The French team did not offer the U.S. any time to recover as no more than two minutes later Marie-Laure Delie added another to the French total when she struck from just 12 yards. Solo again never had a real chance at the ball as France jumped out to a 2-0 lead leaving the American side looking visibly lost.
During the 16th minute midfielder Shannon Boxx needed to be taken off the field due to early reports of a hamstring injury and Carli Lloyd the hero of the 2008 gold medal game with the winning goal joined the midfield.
Wambach gave the U.S. a much needed spark when she headed in a corner kick from Megan Rapinoe at the tail end of the 18th minute. For Wambach it was her 139th international goal and her 5th Olympic goal.
The game took a major turn for the U.S. side in the 32nd minute when Morgan off of a long kick from Solo was able to take the pass and deflect it past a French defender and their keeper. It was the equalizer the U.S. team was desperately seeking as the game initially was looking to be a French runaway.
The French team continued to pressure the U.S. defense in the final minutes of the first half. They were able to draw Solo off her line in the 38th minute when a shot by Thiney was deflected wide of the box. Solo was also able to stop a near brilliant header by Delie not more than a minute later as France continued to push for another goal.
The second half brought no changes to the U.S. lineup though the French side did make two substitutions. The flat pace of the first half was quickly forgotten as the U.S. squad was clearly in attack mode as the second half began.
It didn’t take long for the U.S. to capitalize and take the lead as Rapinoe fed a pass to Lloyd in the 55th minute who scored with a quick strike to the left corner of the net from just outside the box.
Morgan added her second goal of the game in the 66th minute with an assist off of the foot of Tobin Heath sealing the victory for the U.S. and giving them the much needed three points with the win.
In the final minutes the U.S. brought in Amy Rodriguez for Morgan and Sydney Leroux in for Rapinoe giving Leroux her first taste of the Olympic games.
With two days off to prepare for Columbia, Coach Pia Sundhage has plenty to work on with her team seeking its third straight gold medal. Defensively the team can’t expect to rebound from two goals down against a more techinical team like Japan who they will most likely meet later in the tournament. They were able to escape a slow start today but in the future may be not be so lucky.
The U.S. will face Columbia on Saturday at 5pm local time (12pm EST), the game will also be played in Glasgow at Hampden Park and can be see on on NBC Sports Network.