Olympic Recap: Day Two
by Tiffany Weimer
Luckily for the athletes, today’s games weren’t overshadowed by anything going on off the field, so here are some of the things that happened on the field:
U.S. vs. Colombia
Abby Wambach was on the receiving end of a sucker punch by Colombia’s Lady Andrade, which occurred away from the run of play.
While Twitter provided many jokes about how Lady wasn’t very lady-like, I look at it as a sign of things to come.
As Ireland’s Katie Taylor (5x World Champion boxer) has shown, soccer and boxing go together like … lamb and tuna fish… or perhaps you’d prefer spaghetti and meatballs?
Lady Andrade, you’re not fooling anyone. We know what’s next for you.
Anyway, the U.S. beat Colombia 3-0 with goals from Megan Rapinoe, Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd. However, the Colombians were impressive. It is rare to see a team play confident, fearless soccer against the U.S. these days.
The U.S. stepped up their game when it mattered. With a different starting lineup from the game against France, Heather O’Reilly and Heather Mitts made their first starts of the tournament.
The luxury the U.S. team has over most others is the extreme depth of their bench. There aren’t many teams that can toy with their lineup and still come out with a win.
Megan Rapinoe scored the first goal of the match in the 33rd minute off a well-placed shot over goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda who was a bit out of position.
Not allowing that goal in the 33rd minute definitely would have changed things for Colombia, especially because it was the result of a bad giveaway in the back.
The U.S. didn’t get on the board again until the 73rd minute when Wambach combined with substitute Tobin Heath to get the ball between two Colombia defenders. Armed with pure determination, she slid to get the ball far post before anyone else could touch it, giving the U.S. a 2-0 lead.
The final goal of the match, one of the best of the tournament, came off some great off the ball running by Lloyd. The U.S. was playing one and two touch soccer as Lloyd started the play and got on the receiving end of a perfectly timed through ball from Rapinoe to add her second goal of the tournament in the 77th minute.
With the win, the U.S. are now through to the quarterfinals and Colombia are unable to advance. The next game for Colombia will be purely for pride.
Brazil vs. New Zealand
With Cristiane starting, most were probably expecting a ton of goals, regardless of what New Zealand brought to the table. The surprise was that New Zealand did everything in their power to not let Brazil cruise and it worked for most of the game.
There were times when New Zealand tried to attack with numbers but found them selves getting caught in transition by an extremely speedy Brazil side. Fabiana was as dangerous as I’ve seen her in recent years.
Aside from substitute Thais saving one of Marta’s shots and the announcer claiming that Bruna played for FC Gold Pride, I’d say it wasn’t as eventful as it should have been.
The lone goal of the game came in the 85th minute as Cristiane put away her second goal of the tournament (12 all-time in Olympic Games). The ball popped out to her and with a clean right-footed lob over the keeper, she secured the win for her side.
Interesting enough, the Brazilian side that have been known to be unorganized and lack focus for 90 minutes have only allowed 2 goals in the last 6 tournament matches they’ve played (2 goals to the U.S. in the 2011 WWC quarterfinals).
Sweden vs. Japan
One of the more entertaining games for soccer fans (zzzzs for most American sports fans) the Sweden/Japan game displayed some of the more enjoyable soccer on the day.
With very few balls over the top (I actually counted in the first 20 minutes there were only about 2-3 for each team) the ball stayed on the ground for the majority of the match. And unlike the U.S. vs. Colombia game, the players kept it clean and classy.
It wasn’t until the last 10 minutes of the match that Sweden resorted to a long ball over the top. Mostly because Japan did a good job of shutting down Lotta Schelin, who is the key to Sweden’s attack.
Although Japan are still one of the most dangerous teams in the tournament, they could possibly still be a little stiff from flying economy to London and that’s why there haven’t been as many goals. But one might never know.
I was impressed with Sweden’s captain Sara Thunebro and how much she got involved in the attack from her left back position.
Both teams will need to figure out a way to put the ball in the back of the net for their next matches. Sweden will have a tough challenge against Canada. The last time these two teams met was in a friendly in Sweden earlier this year and although Sweden dominated, Canada is a different team from then and Sweden have lost two starters to ACL injuries since that time.
Japan shouldn’t have a problem with South Africa.
France vs. Korea DPR
France found them selves in a must-win situation against Korea DPR today. Leaving Camile Abily on the bench, one wouldn’t think that would be the case.
The French came out slow and as though they were lacking confidence. Was the 4-2 loss to the U.S. a bit much to get over in just two days?
The very young DPR team held the ball well in spells, but counted on transitioning with a long ball over the top as their sole weapon in attack. Still, they looked to be giving France problems.
In the 44th minute France got the jolt they needed. A Louisa Necib corner kick found the head of an onrushing Laura Georges that the DPR goalkeeper could do nothing about except watch it zip past her to the back of the net.
If DPR could have prevented that last-minute goal in the first half, the second half might have looked different for them.
Once substitutes Thomis and Catala came on, the game went from a slow ballroom dance to a movie-like break dance competition.
In the last 20 minutes of the game, France scored four goals to bring the final score to 5-0. Thomis was instrumental in three of the four goals, setting up two and scoring one herself. Catala capped off the night by getting on the end of a great cross from Thomis.
With Thomis, Delie, Necib and others, this French team is capable of more than what they showed against the U.S. Thomis is extremely dangerous on the right side and in their next game against Colombia, this is weapon that must be utilized.
The only negative to take away from today is a poor decision to yellow card Sonia Bompastor for what was said to be a dive, but after watching several replays, definitely was not.
Glad she was able to laugh it off… as most of us did.
Great Britain vs. Cameroon
I was only able to watch bits and pieces of this game but what I saw was impressive from Great Britain and promising from Cameroon.
Goals from Casey Stoney, Jill Scott and Stephanie Houghton paved the way for their 3-0 victory over the African side.
For Houghton to track down a ball that was heading out of bounds in the dying minutes of the match, while already up 2-0, shows that this team might be more than we thought.
Alex Scott continues to impress as one of the best defenders in the tournament. And her pony tail looks nice.