In the second game of women’s group play, the USWNT faced off against 3rd ranked France in a battle for group G. France, one of the emerging powers in women’s international soccer, were poised to present a serious challenge to the Americans after their 4-0 victory over Colombia. Once again however, US remained resilient and found a way to win, defeating the French 1-0.
To begin the game, head coach Jill Ellis decided to make a couple of switches from the US’s opener. 18-year-old Mallory Pugh got a rest as Crystal Dunn made her Olympic debut, while Julie Johnston made way for Whitney Engen due to injury. The core of the team was unchanged, however, as players like Lloyd, Hope Solo, Tobin Heath and Morgan Brian led the squad to their second straight victory of the games.
While they were able to pull out the win, it was certainly not easy against a dynamic French team. The US were thoroughly outplayed for long stretches of the match, relying on their superstar Solo to bail them out several times. As the boos reigned down from Brazilian fans, angry at her tweet about the Zika problem in Brazil, Solo brushed it off and made six stellar saves, once again showing why she is the world’s #1 keeper.
Afterwards, the captain Lloyd spoke of her teammate, saying “Hope is ice, nothing can rattle her…She had a fantastic game tonight, huge saves and came up really big.”
Offensively, Alex Morgan was quiet all game long, as French captain Wendie Renard kept her in check. Midfielder Tobin Heath was America’s most dangerous player on the day, creating chances and drawing fouls, eventually rattling a shot off the post in the 63th minute which allowed Loyd the easy tap-in.
Though it wasn’t pretty, the US showed it had the mentality to grind out another result. Megan Rapinoe, speaking off the team’s unflappable mindset, stated “A lot of it, in the biggest games, in those final moments, it is about mentality…We could be down in the 95th minute 3-0 and we still think we’re going to win. That’s the mentality that we have.”
The US, who have now won 12 straight Olympic games, will be looking take that same mentality into their meeting with Colombia on Tuesday, as they try to finish group play with a perfect 9 points.