Wednesday, July 25, 2012

USWNT vs France: A Running Diary

Article by Leanne Elston

The USWNT started its Olympic run today with a come-from-behind 4-2 win against France at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland. Besides France, Colombia and North Korea join the USA in Group G for this tournament.

After going down 2-0 in less than 20 minutes, the USWNT fought back to tie the game going into halftime before ultimately bagging the win in the second half. I’ve got a running match diary for you of how this game played out.

Pre-game -- I’m watching this game on the NBC Sports Network with Arlo White and Brandi Chastain commentating. I’m a little miffed that they played commercials instead of the anthems. The USWNT Twitter told me Rachel Buehler was belting out the Star-Spangled Banner but I didn’t get to see it. Harumph.

12th minute -- GOAL. USA 0-1 France. Gaetane Thiney receives a ball from deep in France’s half and takes a shot outside the box. The US defenders don’t step up quickly enough to shut that down, and Hope Solo has no chance to save it.

14th minute -- GOAL. USA 0-2 France. Yikes. There is an absolute mess in the box that the US can’t clear up properly. The ball bounces around off various players before France’s Marie-Laure Delie gets the goal.

16th minute -- Maybe we can trick the French into thinking LePeilbet is on their team. We’ll probably have to let them pronounce it all French-like, though.

17th minute -- Shannon Boxx has to be replaced by Carli Lloyd. Well, shoot. This isn’t exactly how I was hoping the game would go.

19th minute -- GOAL. USA 1-2 France. Abby Wambach does what Abby Wambach does. Megan Rapinoe sends in a corner kick and Wambach gets her head on it. Phew. That’s a bit of a relief.

32nd minute -- GOAL. USA 2-2 France. Hope Solo sends a long ball up the pitch; Wambach goes up for it but it bounces past her. Alex Morgan chases it down instead and with some beautiful technique picks it out of the air to flick it past the keeper. That’s her first Olympic goal. Things are all level now. Game on.

38th minute -- France are responding well to losing their two goal cushion. Delie had an opportunity but her shot was over the bar, and now Hope Solo works some of her goalkeeping magic to force Thiney to make a mistake. This is an exciting game.

44th minute -- Alex Morgan is taken down in the box but there’s no call. Looked like she had a case there; Ophélle Meilleroux lost Morgan and tackled her from behind but did get the ball. Almost immediately after, Lauren Cheney takes a shot from distance but it’s saved.

Halftime -- USA 2-2 France. Quite the first half we had there. The USWNT may have managed to come back and tie things up, but there’s still work to be done if they want all three points. They still look a little disjointed, but they’ve been creating in the attacking third.

France have made two changes to start the second half. Captain Meilleroux comes off, replaced by Laura Georges, while Eugénie Le Sommer comes on for Louisa Necib. There are no changes for the USWNT.

53rd minute -- Whoa there, Le Sommer. I see you wearing that pink headband. Don’t think you’ll gain Alex Morgan levels of awesome by doing so.

56th minute -- GOAL. USA 3-2 France. Carli Lloyd, who came on for Shannon Boxx earlier, takes a couple quick touches outside the box and rifles her shot into the net. That was a beauty. We Americans do love a good comeback.

64th minute -- The US are in control of this game now and France are doing a lot of defending. Dunno what happened to their fight from earlier in this match but things have turned around now. Megan Rapinoe has been fantastic so far, assisting on the Wambach and Lloyd goals. She’s a maestro in the midfield.

66th minute -- GOAL. USA 4-2 France. What was I just saying about Rapinoe? She starts this goal in the midfield with a lovely pass out to Tobin Heath, who crosses it at close-range. It goes by Wambach and the keeper, but Alex Morgan is there to tap it in. You might never have known that at one point in this game we were down 2-0. That was wonderful attacking play from the USWNT.

70th minute -- There’s a scramble in the US box that’s reminiscent of that second France goal. Eventually Le Sommer’s shot is high; that pink headband clearly isn’t working out for her. Sorry we’re not sorry.

76th minute -- Alex Morgan comes off and Amy Rodriguez comes on. No hat trick today for Baby Horse. Also, ARod always has her hair awesomely braided. I wonder if she does that herself or has one of her teammates help her out? These are important questions that I have.

84th minute -- Megan Rapinoe comes off for Sydney Leroux. LOTS of applause and cheering for Pinoe, who is pretty much impossible to dislike (especially when she plays like she did today). Leroux is not a bad option to have off the bench, by the way.

86th minute -- France on the breakaway reveals how unsure the US backline has been for this game. It may be 4-2 but the defense has been far from solid. This play turns into nothing and this game is surely in the bag, but it’s still something that needs to be improved upon. It’s particularly worrying because the next two matches are against Colombia and North Korea -- no game is to be taken lightly, but those teams might not punish a shaky defense and we shouldn’t believe that we’re all good back there. Don’t forget that we conceded two goals early in this match.

Full time -- USA 4-2 France. It’s a comeback win for the USWNT with goals from Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan (2), and Carli Lloyd. There are some defensive questions, but the offense seems to be doing just fine. The USWNT takes on Colombia in their next game. That one’s July 28th at 12:00 PM ET on the NBC Sports Network.