US Women’s Soccer Beats Netherlands on Penalty Kicks to Advance
YOKOHAMA, Japan – The United States women’s soccer team beat the Netherlands in a penalty shootout Friday to advance to the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics, building on their veterans to provide an exciting and resilient time in a tournament journey that had already been marked by defeat and frustration.
Megan Rapinoe, the outspoken veteran USA forward, gave the winning kick that beat the Netherlands, 4-2 in a shootout, after the teams tied for 2- 2.
Rapinoe, as usual, struck a winning pose after converting his kick and was quickly swallowed up by his teammates. But it was goaltender Alyssa Naeher who really saved the game, making several big saves long before the shootout – including a late Dutch penalty that could have sealed the Americans’ second straight medal-free exit from the Games – then stopping two more. Dutch penalty attempts in a shootout.
The match, played in an empty stadium so quiet that the few journalists and spectators inside could hear the players shouting defensive missions and words of encouragement, was a collision between two of the best women’s teams in the world, and a rematch. of the 2019 Women’s World Cup Final.
This match was also won by the Americans, with the help of a penalty from Rapinoe. But this summer it emerged that the Netherlands would be able to get their revenge.
The United States struggled in the group stage, humbled by Sweden in their opener and frustrated with a defensive game plan in their third game against Australia, a scoreless draw that guaranteed advancement but did not do much to build team confidence.
A date with the Netherlands was a big obstacle, but also a moment of looking in the mirror for the Americans, who perhaps felt that their heritage and their primacy in women’s football – not to mention a place in the semi-finals – were running. the line Friday.
The Dutch had been the most scoring team in the Olympic tournament, scoring 21 goals in three group stage games, and they took the lead on Friday with a quick shot from star striker Vivianne Miedema.
But the United States, seemingly annoyed at giving up a goal in a game they had dominated, quickly responded with goals three minutes apart from Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams.
Miedema scored his second goal early in the second half – his 10th goal of the tournament – and then the fight really started. The Dutch pushed on and on, but the United States valiantly repelled one attack wave after another, thanks to several acrobatic saves from Naeher, their calm Connecticut-born goalkeeper.
Every team had scored goals and then called back for offside violations – a recurring theme for Americans in a frustrating group stage – and every thought, at one point or another, had won the game.
But without a goal, the game ended in a penalty shootout, and that’s where Naeher made all the difference.
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