Last summer, Japan inflicted immeasurable pain on the U.S. women’s soccer team, taking the World Cup in the championship game. The only thing that kept the woman afloat was a chance at redemption in the London Olympics.
So, you can guess how exhilarated Team USA feels now, having earned the gold medal by knocking off Japan by the same score the Americans lost last year, 2-1.
“They snatched our dream last summer,” U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe said. “And this kind of feels like the nightmare turned back around.”
It was reversed by the United State’s purpose and commitment. They were solid all around, and refused to let the memory of the World Cup woes overwhelm them.
“We came so close to winning the World Cup,” Abby Wambach said. “We knew if we put our energy and belief in each other into this year, we could pull off something special.”
Before 80,203 fans at Wembley Stadium, an Olympic record for a women’s soccer game, the teams put on a back-and-forth, don’t-turn-your-head soccer showcase, proving again that these are the two premier teams in the world.
Hope Solo was outstanding in goal. Making a lunging late save to thwart a frantic Japanese push for a tying goal. Her play made the two goals by Carli Lloyd – one early in each half – stand up as the winning points.
Back home, America was paying attention — just as it was last year and despite all the other Olympic events. Even President Barack Obama, while visiting the U.S. Olympic Committee’s training center in Colorado Springs, Colo., acknowledged the woman team’s feat.
“Congrats to the U.S. women’s soccer team for a third straight Olympic gold. So proud,” the President posted on his Twitter account.
At the final whistle, there was a group-hug celebration that unleashed a year of bottled-up frustration and emotion. Many of the players paraded with the flag and put on the celebratory T-shirts.
“Hope Solo, she says a lot on Twitter, I guess. I don’t follow her,” U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said. “But what matters is what kind of team player she is and how she performs. … Today Hope Solo had a very good game. She brought the gold back to the United States of America.”