Olympic Soccer: US Women Cruise to 2-0 Victory over New Zealand

The US women’s national team kicked off the Rio Olympic soccer tournament with an easy 2-0 victory over New Zealand in the first match for both teams.

The defending Olympic gold medal winners came into the opening fixture as heavy favorites and didn’t disappoint. The US, who has won the gold medal on four occasions, including at three consecutive tournaments dating back to 2004, rarely looked in trouble during Wednesday’s match against New Zealand.

New Zealand was under the cosh from the outset and it took just nine minutes for Jill Ellis’ US team to score its first goal of the tournament. Tobin Heath played in a fantastic diagonal cross after eluding two Ferns’ defenders. Her cross found the head of Carli Lloyd, who’s looping header settled in the back of New Zealand’s net and set the stage for continued US pressure.

New Zealand had little to offer in attack, and rarely troubled USA goalkeeper Hope Solo. The USA’s No. 1 was more troubled by the abuse she received from the Brazilian fans in attendance. Solo, who was outspoken about the Zika virus ahead of the Rio Olympics, was shouted at and whistled for nearly the entire second half of the match. Despite the fan abuse, Solo looked comfortable on the pitch, and had zero saves to make during the 90 minutes.

While Solo received chants and whistles off of the fans, the US continued to hustle and hurry New Zealand, putting in a dominate performance. Although it wasn’t the biggest win of the opening set of fixtures, it was a win that showed just how good the reigning World Cup titleholders are.

Just after halftime the US put the match to bed thanks to Alex Morgan’s left footed strike. The US played some lovely one and two-touch passes at the top of the 18-yard box before Morgan Brian found Alex Morgan free in the penalty area. Although Morgan’s effort was well struck, New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler should have done better, and shouldn’t have been beaten at her near post.

The US had chances to extend its lead throughout the second half, but the team was quite wasteful. Lloyd’s 66th minute free-kick was blazed over the crossbar, and the soccer veteran should have looked to put a teammate in on goal rather than go for glory. Heath’s free-kick in 76th minute was clawed away by Nayler before being cleared by a teammate. Nayler was also up for the task of preventing Crystal Dunn’s cross from finding Heath for a tap in just minutes later.

In all the US should have won its opener by 4-0 scoreline, yet despite being unable to add to its lead, the ladies still picked up a vital three points to cap off the Olympic campaign.

Rio 2016: USA 2-0 New Zealand – highlights

USA women secure a 2-0 win over New Zealand in the opening match of Group G at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

In other women’s Olympic soccer fixtures, the US’s next opponent France was 4-0 winners over Colombia. The French opened the scoring in the second minute thanks to a Colombian own goal by Carolina Arias and never looked back.

Rio 2016: France 4-0 Colombia – highlights

France ease to a 4-0 victory over Colombia in their first Group G game of the women’s football at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Germany was also a big winner, downing Zimbabwe 6-1. Germany’s Melanie Behringer provided the team with a second half brace as it stormed to victory. Germany will face Australia in its second game, as the Aussies look to get their first points of the tournament. Australia lost 2-0 to Canada in the opening fixture thanks to goals from Janine Beckie and Christine Sinclair.

Canada v Australia: Janine Beckie scores fastest Olympic women’s goal

Janine Beckie scores for Canada after just 20 seconds of their opening Rio 2016 women’s football first-round match against Australia. It is the fastest goal in Olympic women’s football history. Click here to follow live action. Catch up on Sweden Women v South Africa Women in full.

In Group E, Brazil ran out 3-0 winners against China, while its next opponents Sweden defeated South Africa 1-0. Nilla Fischer got the lone goal in a tight affair between the two sides.

Highlights: Brazil 3-0 China

Brazil dominate China in their opening game at the Rio 2016 Olympics, with goals from Monica, Andressa Alves and Cristiane.

The 2016 Rio Olympics women’s soccer tournament will resume on Saturday.

Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @DrewMFarmer. Check out his latest book, Soccer Travels, in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon.com.

Drew Farmer
I am a freelance journalist and author currently living in Manchester, England. Originally from the USA, I have written about sports and travel for years.I have written for Hopeless Football Romantic magazine, The Football Pink magazine, World Soccer Talk, Sports Collectors Daily, Forza Italian Football and many more. My debut book Soccer Travels was released in spring 2016, and details travelling to soccer matches around the globe. It can be purchased on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.