USWNT beat China on Lone Lloyd Goal
The USWNT beat China 1-0 in the quarterfinals, with Carli Lloyd’s lone goal sending the team to its seventh consecutive World Cup semifinal. They are the only women’s soccer team to reach all seven Women’s World Cup semifinals.
Finally, the Americans gave the kind of performance befitting a team ranked number 2 in the world. They went with a high pressure game plan pressing China effectively for the majority of the match.
The finishing was still off as the USWNT created a multitude of chances, but could not bury in the net. One chance came quickly in the second minute with a ball from Lloyd, springing Amy Rodriguez forward, but Rodriguez tried to beat the keeper shooting far post from right to left and couldn’t get the ball on frame.
In the 51st minute Lloyd broke through the stalemate with a header off a service from Julie Johnston. Lloyd was able to put enough power and pace on the ball, in a move normally seen from Abby Wambach, who did not make it onto the field until the 86th minute.
Coach Jill Ellis described the game as “a highly energized performance” in her postgame comments, and there is no disputing that. Ellis made some major changes to the lineup for the match. She started Rodriguez up top with Alex Morgan in place of Wambach. Ellis also needed to replace two midfielders due to the forced absences of Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe, both sitting out because of accumulated yellow cards.
Morgan Brian got the start in midfield, sitting back as a holding midfielder. Kelley O’Hara, a forward in her college years at Stanford and then a defender who played every minute during the 2011 World Cup, started as in a wide midfield position tonight.
China was known in the tournament to play a narrow, compact back line and the wide play by O’Hara payed off. Unfortunately for the Georgia native, she also sustained an injury to her nose and was subbed out for Christen Press in the 61st minute.
Again, the American defense was strong. The back four and Hope Solo are now sitting at 423 minutes of scoreless play. They have not allowed a goal since the team played Australia in their first group stage match.
Midfielder Heather O’Reilly was subbed in for Alex Morgan in the 81st minute, getting her first minutes of the tournament. In a baffling move, O’Hara, a forward in college and a defender for the national team, got the start at midfield when the wide position is O’Reilly’s bread and butter. Lloyd earned her 200th cap. Hope Solo is in first place on the all-time wins list for USWNT goalkeepers.
The USWNT will now take on Germany in the semifinals Tuesday night. The Germans moved into the semifinals after advancing in penalty kicks against France.