Thursday, July 26, 2012

U.S. Women's Soccer Beats France, 4-2, in Opener

At the New York Times, "U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Beats France":

GLASGOW — Four years ago in Beijing, Carli Lloyd provided the climax to the women’s soccer tournament at the Olympics with a wicked shot that was, for the United States at least, a truly golden goal. On Wednesday, Lloyd produced another dazzling finish that the Americans can only hope will send them along a similar path.

An enterprising YouTube savant might find the shots suitable for a mash-up, as they were virtually mirror images. In China, Lloyd’s strike came off her left foot from outside the left edge of the penalty arc in the final against Brazil; here it was her right foot, from the right side, in the first match of the London Games, a wondrous dart that pushed the Americans ahead in a 4-2 comeback victory over France.

Although the Beijing blast surely came under more meaningful circumstances, Lloyd’s latest might have been more impressive to witness. After dribbling a few steps to her right, Lloyd — who was left out of the starting lineup and only came on as a first-half substitute — unleashed a rising shot that zoomed past goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi and broke a 2-2 tie in the 56th minute.

Lloyd immediately turned and sprinted toward the United States bench, sliding on her knees near the touchline before being tackled by a mob of teammates. Lloyd said afterward that she took an extra measure of satisfaction in the goal because she began the game on the bench, an assignment she is still getting used to.

In 2011, Lloyd started all 19 games in which she played; this year, she had started 13 of 16. Still, she said she was “at peace” with Coach Pia Sundhage’s decision and was determined to make an impact if she got a chance to play.

That opportunity came when the veteran midfielder Shannon Boxx injured her right quadriceps and was replaced in the 17th minute. Lloyd quickly fell into her familiar routine with teammates but said she was not expecting to hit such a pure shot from distance because she and other players had struggled to get comfortable with the Adidas balls being used in the Olympics.

The balls are a little bit harder, Lloyd said, so “it’s not very often you hit in the sweet spot.” She added, “Fortunately on that one, I did.”