The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) defeated France in their second match of Olympic group play, 1-0, putting the U.S. at the top of Group G.
Carli Lloyd once again came through for the United States, scoring the match’s lone goal to give the United States a much needed three points in group play. It was Lloyd’s 11th goal for the year and her eighth Olympic goal.
Although the USWNT had one of their most cohesive games in their Olympic opener against New Zealand, they once again suffered from some of the same problems that have been plaguing the team so far this year, especially in the first half.
The U.S. had trouble connecting passes and turning over the ball, and that gave France the upperhand. France seemed to dominate possession of the ball in the first half, keeping the ball in the USWNT’s defensive half for the majority of the first 45 minutes. France also really attacked the flanks, taking advantage of the space left open as the USWNT outside backs pressed high into the attack. They maintained possession of the ball for the majority of the first half, and tested USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo a number of times in her record 200th cap.
Part of the USWNT's disjointedness may have been the result of a couple of lineup changes stemming from mild injuries to regular starters. Center back Julie Johnston was out of the starting lineup with a groin injury, one that she has been struggling with since first injuring it back in the USWNT’s January training camp. Mallory Pugh also was sidelined for Saturday’s match because of an ankle knock suffered in Wednesday night’s match. Although both players were available for the match against France, neither of them saw any playing time for the U.S.
The score line would have definitely ended in France’s favor had it not been for Solo. France outshot the USWNT 14-7, and Solo had a number of big saves, especially in the last twenty minutes when France was on a mission for an equalizer.
France got their first look at goal in the 16th minute when Louisa Cadamuro took a free kick and Wendie Renard headed the ball towards goal. Renard's shot went off the crossbar after USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo got a hand on it, giving France a corner kick. The kick went right in front of goal where there was a sea of bodies. The ball was bobbled around a bit before eventually going out of bounds just left of goal.
Marie-Laure Delie nearly scored in the 26th minute when a through ball split the USWNT back line and rolled into space. Delie ran onto the ball and took a shot from the left flank, but Solo easily punched it out of bounds.
Cadamuro fouled Carli Lloyd just outside of the penalty area, awarding the USWNT a free kick. Tobin Heath lined up over the ball, with a five-player wall between her and the goal, but Bouhaddi got her hand on the ball and knocked it over the crossbar to deny Heath a goal.
Delie nearly put France on the board in the 40th minute when Amandine Henry moved the ball into space for Delie, who sent a hard shot right at Solo. Solo had come just off of her line, but she was able to stop the point-blank shot with her knees.
The first half ended in a scoreless draw despite France’s best efforts. However, the second half started out in a much different fashion, as the USWNT came out looking hungrier and more cohesive than they had in the first half. They were the better team on the field in the second half, although they were still by no means perfect.
The USWNT was finally able to get on the board in the 62nd minute when Tobin Heath took a shot from the left side of the box. Bouhaddi just got a hand on the ball, but it was only enough to cause the direction of the ball to change just enough to bounce off of the post. Carli Lloyd, who was left unmarked in the box, easily ran up and tapped the deflection into the back of the net.
Renard nearly equalized in the 74th minute when Renard went unmarked in the penalty area and sent a ball towards goal. Amandine Henry was making a run onto the ball but did not have enough speed to get to it, and Renard’s ball went just wide right of goal.
Delie had another chance on goal when she headed a ball on frame in the 78th minute, but Hope Solo was able to get in front of the shot to prevent it from going in. The deflection sat on the pitch in a dangerous spot for a few seconds until O’Hara kicked the ball.
Alex Morgan had a chance on goal in the 81st minute when she took a shot from distance, noticing Bouhaddi off of her line. However, the ball sailed over the crossbar, and the USWNT would not add to their goal total before the end of the match.
The win over France today guarantees that the USWNT will progress into the elimination rounds of the tournament, but they have one last group play match before they do. The USWNT next take on Colombia on Tuesday, August 9 in their final Group G match.
USA - Carli Lloyd (Tobin Heath), 62'
USA Lineup: Hope Solo; Kelley O’Hara, Whitney Engen, Becky Sauerbrunn, Meghan Klingenberg (Christen Press, 90’); Allie Long, Morgan Brian, Carli Lloyd (C; Lindsey Horan, 82’); Crystal Dunn (Ali Krieger, 70’), Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath
Subs Not Used: Alyssa Naeher, Julie Johnston, Mallory Pugh, Megan Rapinoe
Head Coach: Jill Ellis
FRA Lineup: Sarah Bouhaddi; Griedge Mbock Bathy Nka, Wendie Renard (C), Amandine Henry, Amel Majri, Jessica Houara, Camile Abily (Kheira Hamraoui, 83'), Kadidiatou Diani, Louisa Cadamuro (Elodie Thomis, 70’), Elise Bussaglia, Marie-Laure Delie (Claire Labogez, 86’)
Subs Not Used: Meline Gerard, Sabrina Delannoy, Sakina Karchaoui, Eugenie LeSommer
Head Coach: Phillippe Bergeroo
USA - Crystal Dunn, (caution), 68'
FRA - Griedge Mbock Bathy (caution), 82'