United States Wins Women’s Soccer Gold

Behind two goals by Carli Lloyd, the United States defeated Japan to avenge last year’s loss in the World Cup final and win its fourth gold medal in women’s soccer.

Comments: 61

  1. Congrats to the US team.

    I have to say though the officiating at the Olympics matches (both men and women) has been dismal.

    How was it possible for the refs to miss that handball in the box???????

  2. Exactly...It was so obviously a handball. Don't we feel a bit ashamed that we've benefited from officials' oversights in the last two games?
    Can someone assuage this sense of unfair advantage by citing any instance in the series when a call, or the absence of a call, went against us?

  3. Get out there with eyes in the back of your own head before assuming that refs have the simple advantages we do at home. If the ref caught Tancredi stomping on Carli Lloyd's head she would have been booted from the game and perhaps the US would have won even more goals on Monday than they did.

  4. Your report on this game is as vague and unfocused as the officiating. Announcers on ESPN indicated this gold metal is already tarnished. Japan clearly outplayed the U.S., they said, which benefited from poor, if not dishonest, refereeing. The time has come, obviously, for baseball umpires and soccer referees to be replaced by available technology, which has already taken the guesswork and arguments out of tennis tournaments. In the spirit of the Olympics, the U.S. women's soccer team should either share the gold medal with Japan or give it back. It certainly didn't earn it.

  5. ... were you watching the same game I was?

  6. Dishonest? So the same ref who presided over the US losing a world cup final to Japan in the final moments, decided to throw the game for the US? That makes sense.

  7. Southern Dem, you confuse the opinions of TV commentators with facts. I don't think Japan outplayed the US - the opposite. The hand ball and foul were certainly debatable and - in my opinion - should have been called, so those were two bad breaks for Japan. But bad calls happen in every officiated sport. Unless you can prove that the ref was biased in the US' favor, you do our women's team a great disservice by saying their gold medal is tarnished.

  8. Two wonderful goals by Lloyd, but they only created two other serious chances the entire match: Lloyd's left footer that went wide, and the cross that Fukumoto punched away from Wambach's head.
    On the other hand, the Japanese hit the crossbar twice, and the referee failed to call an obvious and intentional hand ball PK on Tobin Heath. Solo's save in the 83rd minute kept the USWNT from the necessity of playing a second 120 minute match in three days, and Rampone cleared a shot off the line in the first half.
    "Greatness has been found?" More like "luck is the residue of design."
    In the semifinal, Rapinoe was the outstanding player. Today the standouts were Solo, Lloyd, and Wambach's work covering back in defense.
    Still, Japan, who were terrible for the first 10 minutes, had 58% possession, and the USWNT defense was shaky, at best,but they still prevailed. Congratulations to both sides. It was a far better played match than the Canada match. If fortune favors the brave, then the USWNT is the bravest of them all.

  9. the u.s - canada match was a match for the ages...if there were more matches like that {mens as well as womans } they'd be calling soccer football in america....match reminded me of game 7 1960 world series with morgan playing the mazeroski role

  10. I barely kept my composure - going through that second half felt like riding on a very unsteady plane. Thank the maker for Hope Solo. What a game. Congratulations, USWNT!

  11. Poor officiating is a fact of life. Great teams have to overcome it.

  12. It isn't "poor officiating." An intentional hand ball, which that was, is cheating.

  13. The multimedia piece that accompanies this article is outstanding.

  14. It looks like a handball but it's not: she never plays the ball with her hand/arm, which is always moving away from the ball and winds up behind her back. (Simple rule: If hand plays ball, a foul; if ball plays hand, no foul.) What seems to have happened (if you freeze-frame the sequence): Tobin Heath lines up to face the kick with both hands protectively in front of her body; it's a right-footed kick so she expects it to curl towards her body and moves her arms outwards in the normal bent position (hands raised, elbows down, as in heading) to chest the ball down; then she realizes that the ball is not curling in and will hit her upraised arm, so she moves it (too late) away from the ball and it finishes behind her back. She is not trying to play the ball with her hand, and so is not committing a foul. Same is true of the semi-final double "handball" vs Canada: in both case the American players were using their hands to defend themselves against a hard-struck free kick—which is explicitly allowed—and had no time to to take other evasive action. Watch where guys put their hands when they face a free kick—for which they are never penalized.

  15. Sorry, Peter, but NOT a debatable call. Her arm is away from her body in an unnatural position. The arm moves to the ball, and pins it between her arm and leg. Obvious hand ball in the box, and should be a penalty every day of the week.
    The debatable call is the second half run by Kumagai on a free kick when she and Buehler clatter into Solo. Arlo White said it should be a foul for impeding the goalie. When the replay was shown, he had to admit that Buehler had both arms wrapped around Kumagai's stomach. That, too, might have been a penalty, but it is much harder for the referee to see. There is no excuse for the German not to call the one on Heath, with no other player obstructing the referee's view.

  16. This analysis is just plain inaccurate. Just watch the replay. You will rarely see a more clear handball. Whether she tries to pull her hand back in or not, her hand is extended AWAY from the trunk of her body and the ball hits it. She was not defending herself, she was blocking the ball with her arm! Clear penalty.

  17. Yeah, I can't agree at all that Heath shouldn't have been called for a hand ball; I sure would have called it if I'd been the ref.

    I am perplexed that both Heath and Canada's Marie-Eve Nault, on Monday, were undisciplined enough to let their arms get away from their bodies, and expose themselves to a hand ball call (though only Nault, of course, got burned for it). No doubt it's difficult to control such reflexes -- but that's what you expect of professionals, and that's what they train to do.

  18. The accomplishment of this terrific team of American women is from the first match to the final whistle in the final game a tale of grit, determination, heart and that indefinable characteristic which women players are way more apt to display on their team; that they will do anything for their team mates to enable success for the entire team.

    Before the Olympics began they vowed to avenge the gut wrenching penalty shoot out loss to Japan in the last World Cup final, worked toward it in a totally focused manner, and never wavered when things got really tough on the field. Their match with Canada in the semi final ranks among the greatest displays of football by two teams at the highest level of their game in my seven decades of being a fan of the worlds game.

    That I was so privileged to sit in wonder to observe the epic contest between the US Vs Canada will live with me to the end. Both teams were outstanding and the American women showed what made them so special playing inspiring football which will stand as a model, not alone for the young women of the US to emulate, but for all Americans to admire and cheer on as they yell, USA, USA, USA.

    The team is exceptional, everyone of them, therefore I choose to laud the team and not single out any player above another. Thank you young ladies, you are the best.

  19. Unfortunately, I didn't see the whole match w/Canada, just the overtimes and there I felt the U.S. was outplaying Canada at that point, holding the majority of possession and attacking in those periods. The Canadian goalie did admit that a assist. ref did warn her to speed up earlier, so they were watching her. The handball call was a close call, not sure I would have made it. But still, for drama and a beautiful victory, the final center and header were gorgeous.

    I did see the match today with Japan, and I felt the U.S. victory was deserved as they were much better finishing the fewer chances they did have. But, I also felt the Japanese team was extremely dangerous and did slightly outplay the U.S. is several areas. But they missed their chances even though there were times when they really made the U.S. defense look dodgy. However Solo came up huge in this game and that was the difference. She robbed the Japanese twice with fantastic plays and thus the gold goes to the Yanks.

  20. The US played a very good tournament, however they were clearly benefitted by the refs in both the semifinal and final. You can call that luck, or you can be suspicious.

  21. Congratulations to NBC for making sure a great many of us couldn't watch the game by having it on NBC Sportsnetwork instead of NBC. They blew it in1996 when the country was gripped by the women's team and didn't show any of the thrilling victory over China. Pat yourselves on the back NBC.

  22. Past 13+ months the USWNT has been the best reality TV (or online stream) going. 2015 qualifiers can't come soon enough. The open access that US soccer goes into with their videos, player profiles and interviews make it very enjoyable and easy to follow this team. They may have played their worst game in the tournament in the final (besides Solo), but they won, 6wins 0 loses in the olympic tournament is a tremendous, tremendous accomplishment. I didn't they had it in them but they showed they are no doubt one of the best women's teams in the world, like their play or not. Congrats, I think Buehler played the entire second half with either a concussion or with double vision. Thought Pia panicked a little replacing Rapinoe for Cheney, US played way too much in a defensive formation, even in the first half, which isn't their strength as was obvious, but they survived and accomplished the goal they all worked for this entire past year. Solo's range is better than most keepers, female and male. They are celebrating, but I'm already interested how they continue to improve this team and what's the next chapter. Great work USA, USA! Live it up in London and at the Olympics and closing ceremony!

  23. I also think Buehler was concussed. I suspect that the collision that caused it was early in the second half, with the score 1-0. Japan had a free kick from the center of the pitch, and Miyama floated a ball toward the penalty spot. Kumagai and Buehler crashed into Solo charging out. There was no call on the play, and Arlo White and Brandi Chastain thought there should have been a foul favoring the Americans. The replay clearly showed a sheepish White that Buehler had both arms wrapped around Kumagai's midsection, and might easily have been a penalty. Given the collision that might have caused the concussion was the result of foul play by Buehler, I'm not all that sympathetic, or impressed.

  24. Like it or not, the Gold medal is tainted. Referee Pedersen's performance was one of the worst I've ever seen. It wasn't just the two decisions which cost Canada the penalty and goal. Her decision making in the first half was appalling, although it didn't cost a goal. I doubt if she was biased, but merely incompetent.

  25. How about if the referee would have seen Tancredi intenionally stomp Lloyd's head? Red card, she leaves the game and Canada plays the entire second half at a player disadvantage. I will take that result any day. The US would have won by more than just one goal. And the delay call was absolutely right. The Canadian goalie had been warned a few times prior to the call according to other players and the referee's father.

  26. The ref completely blew that handball call. It would have been a very different game if Japan had received the penalty kick they deserved. Very classy by the Japanese coach not to complain about it...because he had a right to.

  27. Spark up another tale of "grit" and "resilience" and "determination"... qualities which the US Women's team apparently have the franchise on... or the other teams have yet to figure out the meanings of. Add luck, or "help" to the list to, depending on your view of the officiating in favor of the US. Too disgusted to say much more... thankfully the EPL kicks off next week.

  28. The Americans do not deserve the gold. The Canadians outplayed them by a mile, well actually, Christine Sinclair outplayed them. The favourable officiating they experienced the entire tournament continued into the finals. We all know which team deserved the gold or at least the chance to lose it.

  29. Keep on telling yourself that. All those assertions are deeply unpersuasive -- except for the statement that Sinclair was the best individual on the field Monday, which she surely was.

  30. We all know Canadians are sore losers.

  31. We all do?

  32. The whole tournament was fantastic. I was surprised to see most teams were playing much better than at the World Cup, maybe just having the major tournament experience was the difference.

    I've never been a big fan of Carli Lloyd but wow she really shows up once every four years. Respect.

    Can't wait for the victory tour.

  33. Where have you been? So many talking points in the medal round. I was hoping you'd be right in the middle of it.
    Lloyd really DID show up in the final, making up for the missed sitters against, say New Zealand. She and Solo co-women of the match in the final.

  34. For those of you who think the Japanese outplayed the USA, I guess you didn't see the Canada - France game wherein the Canadians all acknowledged that they were completely drained after the loss to the US on Monday and could barely move even halfway into the first half. You have in the Japan game the American team who endured as much as the Canadian team yet still managed to hold it together and win. The Canadians freely acknowledge that they were wusses in the second half and only survived and won by the grace of god and luck. Why deny the Americans a bit of grace of god and luck? Oh, right, because they are Americans and thus ever to be hated.

  35. @hgm:
    I'd be perfectly willing to do just that, if ANY of the Americans had the grace to openly admit the good fortune attendant to the American victories in both the semifinal and in the final. But there has been none of that. Instead, after a match that the Americans had every chance to give away, the entire team covered themselves with marketing T-shirts proclaiming "Greatness has been found." All the Americans have been saying has been in relation to redemption for last year's WWC.
    The Canadians, who were outplayed by far more than the Americans were (though the Americans WERE outplayed), could admit the fact. The Americans, who got help from he referee, were not even gracious enough to acknowledge the two Japanese shots that hit the crossbar. Fortune plays a part in EVERY major football final. A simple acceptance of that fact would go a long way to undo your last (risible) claim.

  36. Great soccer today!The USA won the gold but the real winners are in Canada. The Canadian win today makes up for the questionable result in the semi-final.
    That was more like a North American football tackle by the American, but no penalty kick. And the hand ball was much more obvious than the call on Canada on Monday.
    The USA is lucky that Japan can see bad calls but just smile and carry on. Canada used to be like that.

  37. This Olympic's "golden goal"(sic) was enabled by 2 egregious calls by the Norweigan referee in the semi final with Canada. Without her incompetence the US wouldn't have even played for Gold. The US Gold is tainted and wouldn't have happened otherwise.

  38. I was at the match, and without the "benefit" of commentary.

    The crowd support for Japan in Wembley was amazing.

    Although the teams were well-matched, the USA team earned their victory, they weren't given it.

    The Japanese had some unlucky bounces and failed to take advantage of their precise ball-handling and footwork, rather than being defeated by the referees.

  39. At the match, perhaps you were not shown numerous replays of Tobin Heath's obvious hand ball in the penalty area with the score 1-0 midway through the first half, with the American domination already having waned, and the Japanese control on the rise. A PK there would have completely changed the match. The US benefited markedly from refereeing decisions, in both the semifinal AND in the final.

  40. Least this time we overcame Pia's stupid decision to sub for Rapinoe. Unlike the 2011 World Cup final.

    I was baffled why our most creative player, Rapinoe, was taken off so early.

  41. Winning the gold medal should be done on your own merit, not with the help of lousy officiating. It was quite clear, referee Pedersen was out of her league in the semi final, & due to her incompetence, the game went to the US, when it should not have. The US may have won gold, but that win will forever be tainted with how they got to the position of being able to play for gold.

  42. Well of course the Americans won. They were allowed to play 'American' football in the final. You know, you can use your hands (as in hand touch in the box in the first half) or tackle (as in the mugging of Japanese player in the box in the second half). The Japanese didn't know which game they were playing so how could they possibly win?

  43. American football? Oh, I thought it was rugby.

  44. Excellent coaching by Sundhage. taking out Rapinoe was a very good move, she was a shadow of herself after the tiring game against Canada. And the Japanese coach is a gentleman, laughing off the fact that the referee ignored Tobin Heath's handball. Japan - very dangerous in its well prepared and executed attacks and the USA was lucky to win. That does not mean they did not deserve it. However, I am looking forward to seeing Germany and other great teams that were missing from the games participate in the next WC and we will see what happens.

  45. Who made the key pass on Lloyd's second goal, the "tiring" Megan Rapinoe. Minutes later she was subbed and if not for errant shooting by Japan and some key saves by Solo, the US would have lost.
    Sundhage learned nothing from the final in WC2011 against Japan.

  46. I agree with your point about Pia taking off Rapinoe.
    That said, it's sort of disingenuous to talk of a "key pass" on a goal that resulted in a 30+ yard run with the ball after receiving that pass, and THEN shooting a bullet. Does anybody even remember, or think about, who passed the ball to Maradona before he slalomed through the entire England team before scoring his second goal in the QF of the 86 World Cup? It's sort of like that.
    In regard to Agai's comment that follows: I don't think that Rapinoe had tired. O'Hara had been a consistently overlapping fullback, and Rapinoe and Heath switched sides so that Rapinoe could cover for O'Hara going forward, and Heath would have no such responsibility with stay-at-home LePeilbet on her side. Rapinoe was not the attacking force she was in the semifinal. However, Rapinoe and Wambach showed admirable defensive discipline in support of a back line that looked determined to give goals to Japan. Rapinoe also helped cover Kinga, Japan's attacking right fullback. She did a job, and did it quite well. I actually thought that Pia should have subbed off LePeilbet and played Rapinoe at right fullback.

  47. I and the other person watching the match with me were wondering why Rapinoe was taken off. She has impressed as such a great player. It seemed that the American defense became really un-organized after she went off. I don't know if that was a coincidence but Japan did score their goal after she was taken out.

  48. I am reminded of an old sporting truism, "The winners celebrate, the losers cry Foul."
    It is not a foul based on a fan's perception. It is a foul based on the ref's call.
    I have never, well, almost never, seen a sporting event when some self-appointed expert did not explain away a loss due to bad officiating.

  49. My congratulations to the American Fooball National Team! You girls highly deserve Gold Crows. For you have shown American spirit, determination, and passion for your favorite sport.

    Your sweat, your speed, and your sacrifice in defending the colors of United States will be in the American psyche forever.

  50. Another USA blatant hand ball not called.

  51. Seems to me that both teams in the gold medal final, and both teams in the semi-final match played with grit and reslience. One team played better at this point, the other team played better at this other point. It's rather easy to pick apart and say, because of these plays this team deserved to win (which is probably true of many outcomes in every team sport), when because of these other plays, the other team did win. One set is owing to skill, while the other is owing only to luck? And yes, perhaps some missed calls, or erroneous calls. Find me a game where that doesn't happen. On that last point, both teams had players on the receiving end of fouls that didn't get called.

    And most valuable player? for both teams, probably the goal woodwork. That player never gets any recognition at all. Without that player (sorry, really two), the score would have been much, much different.

  52. A call...or missed call...does have an impact. But just because they got a goal off that series of calls doesn't mean that had they not, another goal wouldn't have been scored. I'm tired of people saying they don't deserve to win. They got lucky, yes. But so does every winning soccer team--and many losing ones too.

  53. while I'm very happy for our team... they're lucky to have escaped with a win.. Japan clearly outplayed us and if it hadn't been for two super saves by Ms. Solo, we would have lost 3 or 4 to 2... they hit the crossbar twice and then there was the obvious hand ball no-call...

  54. This article is such accurate tribute to the hard-work that both of these teams put in to get to the gold medal match and specifically the Americans to win the gold. This article makes Sally Jenkins's article in the Washington Post about these women look like a sarcastic, petty, embarrassingly poor attempt at journalism. The women on both of these teams will inspire young girls all around the world. They should be honored as they honored our country bringing back a gold medal.

  55. Soccer is a funny game. Last year during the world cup final if the U.S. shots on goal during the first half go in instead of hitting the woodwork the United States wins the game against Japan easily. This year the U.S. team had the friendly woodwork.

    I agree that the Ref should have called a handball in the box against Heath, but she didn't, that happens in soccer, refs make and miss calls at all levels of soccer (in any sport). Maybe Japan scores on the PK, If they do the game is level at 1-1. Still plenty of time in the game to let the players decide the outcome of the game.

    I can understand Canada's frustration, I've coached and watched many games in which a call or non-call has had an impact on a game. When I coach I purposely make bad calls or no call during practice so that the players can learn how to deal with the adversity and/or the unfairness of the situation and continue playing the game controlling the things that they can control--their performance and their emotions. I also coach them not to whine about calls.........so Canadian fans stop whining!

  56. Agal from Boston describes the Japanese coach perfectly, I would also add a total professional. Examples such as his or A. Galarraga (non-perfectgame) are what should be expected from professional athletes which have played entire lives on ball fields and know that refs are human too and it isn't their first bad call no matter how egregious. Blown calls are part of the game, in the first minute of play or the last inning, in the middle of the field or in the penalty box, true professional athletes and sports(wo)men are immune to them and react by their subsequent play in accordance to what is called or not. Not saying every athlete handles it with the same grace or dignity or maybe even should (and in the course of play some of the reactions are also dramatic to work the refs), but you can see the differences in understanding between true pros and amateurs. Having said that the blown call on Tobin's handball definitely would have changed the game, but nobody knows how, US would have had to continue to attack at 1-1 early, Rapinoe might have been more aggressive moving forward, so all we can assume is it would have changed the game, but how we can only speculate. I do think that even if US didn't play their best match, the deserved the win, they were the better team, Japan wasn't as strong they also gave away some chances (possible own goal) to a team that surprisingly defended (or should I say not attacked with) a one goal lead like no other time in their recent history.

  57. For any team to win a tournament you need luck which includes calls going your way. To suggest the refs were biased is absurd. Is there ever a game when the losing side doesn't claim a bias? The USA has won 4 of the 5 Olympics, was there bias in those wins as well? Which team "plays" the best is subjective. Depending on the opponent, the tactic may be to play more defensive and counterattack. It's ugly, but if it gets the win, then the coach is a genius, no? The bottom line is you have to put your chances away when you get them. Japan did not, the USA did.

    The handball calls/non-calls are not automatic, it's all up to the interpretation of the ref (and many times positioning). Put 100 refs in that situation and I doubt that you would have a large majority one way or the other for those calls/non-calls. What if Japan did get the call? It's no guarantee they would score. If they did score, would that fire up the USA to go on and score themselves. And let's face it, the refs allow a modest buffer beyond the 6 seconds for the goalie holding the ball, but the Canadian goalie was going beyond that and was warned. She has only herself to blame.

    Finally, to those who talk about "cheating", do you watch or play the game on a regular basis? Soccer is a very physical game. The wrestling in the box on free kicks has become standard in the game (unfortunately). Refs rarely call this.

  58. Barring the fact how well USA Women soccer team played in both the semi final and final games, both the wins undeniably were handed over to them by the referee for giving two wrong calls in favorof USA team. First,in the semi against Canada, allowing USA a free kick for Canada goalkeeper holding the ball for 6 seconds and then giving a penalty shot to USA for handball which under the soccer rules is not considered a hand ball, and then in the final by not giving a legitimate call of allowoing the Jpan team a penalty shot for a very obvious and deliberate handball.
    Well these things are all part of every game, but this has been too much of a coincidence in two very important games in a row. Unlike Canada, hats off to Japan for not protesting and keeping their pride.

  59. @BLM - The Canadian goalie herself stated that an assistant ref had warned her earlier about the time she was taking. He probably notified the ref who was then looking for it. Otherwise, even the U.S. coach had never seen that infraction called, though it does get called, especially if the refs think a team with a lead is trying to run the clock by slowing down play. Undoubtedly rare. Much less rare was the no-call stomp by Tancredi [sp] in the box that should have tossed her out of the game and created a p.k. Referee calls can sour a contest, but they tend to even out. The U.S. team certainly showed incredible grit, as did the Canadians themselves, in this hard fought battle, truly a great match between two great teams. Give the Yanks their due for gutting it out, coming back 3 times and winning it with a beautiful and dramatic goal at the end. Match fixing charge is serious and you'd better have real evidence before just blathering out un-supported charges. Put-up or shut-up.

  60. I certainly hope the Japanese women will ride back in business class now that they have won the silver. The medal-less men can ride coach.