New England Soccer Today

U.S. Beat New Zealand 2-0, Advance to Semis

The U.S. Women’s National Team will advance to the Olympic semi-finals after defeating New Zealand 2-0 in Newcastle on Friday.

Goals from Abby Wambach and Sydney LeRoux combined with Hope Solo’s third consecutive shutout punched their ticket to the next round, where they will face either Canada or Great Britain.

New Zealand, ranked 23rd in the world, were no match for the U.S. from the opening whistle. Alex Morgan rounded goalkeeper Jenny Binden in the 10th minute, but put her shot inches wide of the far post. Moments later, both Morgan and Abby Wambach were unable to connect with a through ball sent across the penalty area by Megan Rapinoe.

Morgan and Wambach eventually figured out New Zealand’s backline. In the 25th minute, Morgan curled a low cross to the middle of the penalty area that Wambach poked in for the lead. The U.S. had 22 attempts on New Zealand’s goal, a large chunk of which belonged to Morgan.

Morgan’s efforts were never rewarded with a goal of her own, however. She was nearly taken out of the game when her goal scorer’s instinct ignored signs of danger and Morgan collided with Binden in an attempt to latch onto a through ball midway through the second half. Morgan kneed Binden in the face while sprinting to catch up to the pass, though both players were able to continue.

It seemed as though once again the U.S. would have to put their faith in Solo and their backline after the team’s offense was once again struggling to score more than once. With so many botched chances and just a one-goal deficit, New Zealand amped up the pressure in the final fifteen minutes of the game in hopes of finding an equalizer.

But with New Zealand pushed up so high in attack, the U.S. found success counterattacking. LeRoux, who replaced Morgan in the 80th minute, latched onto a long ball by Tobin Heath following the remnants of a failed New Zealand attack. LeRoux beat her defender and fired a low, hard shot through the legs of Binden to double the advantage- just seven minutes after coming on.

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