[OLYMPIC SPOTLIGHT] Carli Lloyd, who wasn't a starter when the Olympics began, scored both goals to beat Japan in
the final. She also had scored the winner when the USA beat Brazil, 1-0, in the 2008 gold-medal game.
"This is pretty crazy," Lloyd said.
With Shannon Boxx ready to go again after being injured in the opening win over France, U.S. coach Pia Sundhage kept Lloyd in midfield and benched Lauren Cheney, who taken over for Lloyd in the revamped U.S. midfield.
The move allowed Lloyd to do what she does best: strike from deep-lying positions.
She raced in from the top of the area to beat Abby Wambach to Alex Morgan's cross and put the USA ahead in the seventh minute.
The second goal was pure Lloyd: a blast from 20 yards to finish off a long run through midfield after the USA caught the Japanese on a counterattack.
"That's what I do best, dribbling and firing from a distance," said Lloyd. "I didn't think. I just kept going and unleashed it. It went in the back of the net."
Lloyd was named the U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year in 2008 when she scored the winning goal in overtime of the Olympic final against Brazil.
She played all of 16 minutes at the 2011 Women's World Cup so it was tough to be benched weeks before the start of the 2012 Olympics.
''I worked my butt off day-in and day-out," she said. "I don't think there's anybody that works harder than I do. I was on a mission this Olympics to prove everybody wrong, and that's what I did. To show everybody that I belong on the field.''