Olympic soccer: Hope Solo keeps clean sheet in USWNT win
Hope Solo made six saves in the USWNT’s second group stage match, helping the women’s team defeat France 1-0.
The USWNT defeated France 1-0 on Saturday evening in Belo Horizonte thanks to Carli Lloyd’s second goal of the Olympic tournament. The US international tapped in a Tobin Heath shot that came back off the post to give the US the lead just after the hour mark.
Despite Lloyd getting her second goal of the season, the night belonged to USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo, who made six saves and was instrumental in the USA’s performance. In the USWNT’s previous 2-0 win over New Zealand, Solo was never troubled by the Ferns, and had little to do.
Things were far different against France, who called Solo into action early. The USWNT was under sustained pressure for the opening half an hour, something the team never experienced against New Zealand. In the 16th minute Solo tipped Wendie Renard’s header over the crossbar after the tall French defender out jumped her marker. Ten minutes later France had one of its best chances of the match when Marie Laure Delie was free on goal. Her shot to Solo’s near post was expertly parried into touch.
The US withstood the French pressure in the first half, and thanks to Solo’s quick reactions and timely defensive clearances, the teams went into the half scoreless. France rued its missed chances, while the US was happy to still be level with the French.
US coach Jill Ellis’ halftime team talk did the trick as the US adjusted to France’s attack, and went on the offensive as the second period started. Despite improving its possession statistics and having 55% of the ball during the match, the US failed to breakdown France’s rearguard.
In the 64th minute the US finally made the breakthrough as Morgan Brian’s pass found Heath on the left side of the 18-yard box. Her shot ricocheted off the post after eluding the diving Sarah Bouhaddi and into the path of Lloyd. The USWNT’s No. 10 nearly got her feet wrong, but was able to tap in the rebound from five-yards.
Lloyd now has eight Olympic goals and trails former US women’s national team player Abby Wambach by two goals for the all-time USWNT record.
The US still had to defend as France ramped up its pressure once more. In the 77th minute, Solo made her best save of the match, denying Delie’s header which was then cleared by her defense.
Hope Solo coming up big for the #USA today. Another huge save in the 77th minutepic.twitter.com/0pdDEb2sDP
Despite further pressure from the French, Solo and the US were able to repel each attack. The USWNT’s win now puts them atop Group G with six points.
The US women’s national team’s next opponent, Colombia, was defeated 1-0 by New Zealand. Striker Amber Hearn scored the only goal of the game, converting Betsy Hassett’s cross in the 31st minute. The loss leaves Colombia at the foot of Group G’s standings, while France and New Zealand both sit on three points.
Brazil destroyed Sweden in their Group E clash on Saturday with a 5-1 win. Brazil looked unstoppable in front of its home fans as striker Cristiane scored her 14th career Olympic goal. The current Paris Saint-Germain player now holds the record for both men’s and women’s goal scoring at the Olympics.
Brazil is so fun to watch. Cristiane! #BRAvSWE #RioOlympics2016pic.twitter.com/cd5NuUh4ad
Also in Group E, China defeated South Africa 2-0 thanks to goals from Yasha Gu and Ruyin Tan on either side of halftime. Tan’s goal was the pick of the litter as she struck a 40-yard wonder goal. China now sits on three points along with Sweden. South Africa is yet to register a point at this year’s tournament.
Tan Ruyin of China scores a 40-yard goal to put China 2-0 up against South Africa in their match at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Canada continued its solid play at the Rio Games with a 3-1 win over Zimbabwe. The Canadian’s dominated the match, tallying all three goals in the first 45 minutes. Rising star Janine Beckie scored a first half brace before captain Christine Sinclair put the match out of reach by converting a penalty. Zimbabwe, ranked 93rd in the world, scored in the second half, but the African nation was out of the race by then. After securing two wins from two, Canada will ease into the next round.
Germany and Australia shared the spoils in their Group F clash. Australia looked to be on the way to three points until Saskia Bartuziak struck an equalizer in the 88th minute. The draw leaves the Aussies three points behind second place Germany and five behind Canada. Australia will play Zimbabwe in its last group game while the Germans will play Canada for top spot in Group F.
The top two teams from each group will go through to the knockout stage while the top-two third place teams will qualify. The women’s soccer tournament will resume on Tuesday with the final group games.
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @DrewMFarmer. Check out his latest book, Soccer Travels, in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon.com.