The United States Women’s National Team withstood a rally from Australia to claim the bronze medal in women’s soccer, winning the 3rd place match 4-3. Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd both scored a brace for the USWNT, while Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord, and Emily Gielnik provided the scoring for the Matildas.
Starting XI: 18-Adrianna Franch; 5-Kelley O’Hara, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (Capt.), 12-Tierna Davidson, 2-Crystal Dunn; 8-Julie Ertz, 3-Samantha Mewis (16-Rose Lavelle - 60’), 9-Lindsey Horan; 11-Christen Press (14-Emily Sonnett - 85’), 10-Carli Lloyd (13-Alex Morgan - 81’), 15-Megan Rapinoe (7-Tobin Heath - 60’)
Unused Subs: 6-Kristie Mewis, 17-Abby Dahlkemper, 22-Jane Campbell
The first half started a little on edge, but quickly opened up into the type of soccer we’re used to seeing from the United States. In the 8th minute, Christen Press earned a corner after a pass from Crystal Dunn finds her left foot for a rocket to the upper 90. That shot was saved by Aussie goalkeeper Teagan Micah. On the ensuing corner kick, Megan Rapinoe took matters into her own hands, firing an Olimpico into the right side of the net to make it 1-0.
Christen Press was able to continually put pressure on the Aussie defense. In the 14th minute, she had yet another great chance with the left footed shot from the right side of the box. It required another save by Micah for the corner. They weren’t able to get a shot off there, and it was Australia on the quick counter. Just a couple minutes later, Australia got deep into the attack with Caitlin Foord putting a ball through to Sam Kerr. Kerr hit a low left footed shot that USWNT goalkeeper Adrianna Franch got a hand on, but it squirted into the net for the equalizer.
Australia quickly tried to strike again, with another chance by Kerr in the 19th minute. Kerr received a free header in the box, but Franch was able to knock the ball away for an incredible save. Just two minutes later, it was Rapinoe again. After Australia attempted to clear the ball in the box off a Christen Press long ball, the ball popped up in the air to Rapinoe, who smashed a volley from 15 yards into the back of the net.
The USWNT continued to play with a ton of energy, while the Matildas looked timid with defensive clearances. Press and Rapinoe were both very dangerous in the final third, with Crystal Dunn also forcing the issue with deep runs.
In the first minute of first half stoppage, Carli Lloyd made it 3-1 to the United States. After Lindsey Horan was able to win the ball, she passed it to Lloyd, who fired a low shot into the net. It was her 9th Olympic goal, tying Abby Wambach for most Olympic goals all-time by a USWNT player. She also became the first USWNT player to score in 4 consecutive Olympics. The teams went to the half with that 3-1 score.
The 2nd half started with not a lot of action, but it heated up quickly. Carli Lloyd added her 2nd goal in the 51st minute when a long ball by Christen Press wasn’t cleared by the Aussie defense. Lloyd was able to run past the last defender to get the ball and then slot it past Micah for the goal. It moved her past Abby Wambach to take the all-time USWNT Olympic goalscoring record.
Caitlin Foord pulled one back for Australia just a couple minutes later, with a header across the goal to the right corner of the net to make it 4-2. The match opened up quite a bit over the next few minutes on both sides. Right after the USWNT pressed towards goal, Australia once again countered. In the 57th minute, Sam Kerr had another chance to make it 4-3, but her flying header hit the left post, glanced off Adrianna Franch’s back, and then somehow stayed out of the net.
The USWNT continued to be aggressive on offense, with scoring chances by Press in the 63rd minute and Lloyd a couple minutes later. Neither were able to find the back of the net. However, in the 71st minute, Carli Lloyd was able to collect a ball and have a superb finish. The goal was called back due to Carli being a couple steps offside.
The USWNT and the Matildas continued to have a pretty open match, with both teams getting opportunities to score in the closing minutes of the match. In the 87th minute, substitutes Rose Lavelle and Alex Morgan almost linked up inside the 6 yard box, but Lavelle’s short cross just missed the outstretched foot of Morgan in front of goal. Seconds later, Morgan had another look at goal, but Teagan Micah saved Morgan’s point blank shot.
In the 90th minute, on the edge of stoppage time, Emily Gielnik unleashed a beautiful screamer from about 25 yards that hit the back of the net past the outstretched arms of Adrianna Franch to make it 4-3. That produced some nervy moments for the United States during stoppage time.
Alex Morgan picked up an injury in the 2nd minute of stoppage time and had to come off, forcing the USWNT to finish the match out with 10 players.
Still, despite the final push by the Aussies, the USWNT were able to hold them off to secure their first bronze medal and the 6th medal in 7 women’s Olympic soccer competitions.