Sydney Leroux on Target, Will Play Compatriots in Semifinals


United States 2:0 New Zealand

By Kara McDermott

Vancouver born Sydney Leroux scored the security goal as the USA put away a feisty Kiwi side. The winners will play Leroux’s native Canada in the semifinal.

Leroux may be set to face her old country in the semi finals

The US Women’s National Team beat New Zealand 2-0 to earn a trip to the semifinals in Olympic play. Seattle Sounder Alex Morgan had a brilliant assist on the first goal and her rave green comrade Sydney Leroux put the win away late in the match.

The noted resolve of the New Zealand squad, advancing out of group play for the first time in either an Olympic or World Cup tournament, created plenty of frustration but in the end could not hold off the powerful American side.

The US created several missed sitters in the first half. In the 10th minute, defender Kelley O’Hara drove a long ball up field. Kiwi Abby Erceg got a foot on the ball, but it deflected away from her towards her own goal. Forward Alex Morgan came streaking in from the center field and picked off the errant ball and touched it past keeper Jenny Binden. However she caught up too close to the end line and even with an open goal, she could not get enough angle on the ball to finish.

And then in the 17th minute, Megan Rapinoe set up a textbook grounded cross from the right side of the field: well paced and just beyond easy reach of Binden, it traveled straight across the goal. Morgan missed it on the slide and Abby Wambach’s simple redirect touch sent it just wide of the near post.

Christie Rampone’s defense kept the Kiwis at bay. (c) Angela Isac |

On the other end, the US defense once again did their part to shore up their own goal. Faced with the bold and tenacious play of the Kiwis, sweeper Christie Rampone relaxed the line from the strict 50-yard standoff in their previous game against North Korea.

However, the back line still made it clear that they did not want New Zealand playing in their sandbox.

As a result, fans were treated to long powerful shots from outside the box from the Kiwis. In the 22nd minute, Katie Hoyle ripped an attempt from about 15 yards outside of Hope Solo’s penalty area over the crossbar. In the 36th minute, Kirstey Yallop went wide of the left post after firing from about 10 outside.

And then late in the half, New Zealand got their first on target in the 45th minute from Betsy Hassett, left footed just outside the box that Solo was ready for. Ria Percival continued the trend late in the game with attempts in the 76th and 85th minutes.

Fittingly then, it was the defense that started play for the first goal of the match. A series of passes resulted in a big clearance out of the back. Morgan stretched her horse legs to receive the ball in the offensive third. She cut and juked her defender and then knifed the ball through three defenders towards far post where Wambach was ready with a sliding finish behind Binden.

A series of fouls from the US nearing the end of the first half heralded a change of tone in the game. The passionate but generally controlled American side racked up an uncharacteristic number of fouls and two cards (Wambach 43’, Carli Lloyd 79’). The tension increased in the 73rd minute when Morgan on a breakaway was tripped outside the box by Binden.

The physical play paid off though eventually. In the 87th minute, Tobin Heath sent a long forward ball to Sydney Leroux, who had subbed fellow Seattle Sounder Morgan off earlier. She watched over her shoulder as it came down in front of her. The Canadian defector shook defender Rebecca Smith off her to the ground as she crashed into the box and then put away the security goal between Binden’s legs for the US.

The US will go forward to play cross-continent rival Canada in the semifinals on Monday, August 6 at 11:45 a.m. PST.

Other Quarterfinal Results

Sweden 1 : 2 France
After taking an early lead in the 18th minute with a goal by Nilla Fischer Sweden, a tournament favorite, dropped two goals 10 minutes apart to France (the US can relate). Laura Georges in the 29th minute and Wendie Renard in the 39th secured a semifinal spot against Japan.

Brazil 0:2 Japan
Brazil was disappointed out of another semifinal by Japan with goals by Yuki Ogimi in the 27th minute and Shinobu Ohno in the 73rd. France is next for the Rising Sun.

Great Britain 0:2 Canada
Jonelle Filigno and Christine Sinclair come away heros as they put away goals in the 12th and 26th minute to send Canada into their first Olympic semifinals. They will play the US in a North American showdown on Monday at 11:45 a.m. PST.


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