Inferior to the French in the first half, the USA improved significantly in the second half and celebrated a 1-0 win thanks to Carli Lloyd tapping in a rebound off Tobin Heath’s shot. The victory clinched a quarterfinal spot for the USA, which faces Colombia in its final group game on Tuesday.
After the USA’s 2-0 opening win over New Zealand, Coach Jill Ellis made two lineup changes. She started winger Crystal Dunn over Mallory Pugh, who suffered an ankle injury against the Kiwis, and central defender Julie Johnston, nursing a sore groin, made way for Whitney Engen.
Although the USA lacked rhythm for most of the game and rarely sparkled, it managed a victory against a
French team that is likely its strongest competition for the gold medal.
U.S. Player Ratings:
RATING PLAYER (TEAM) GP/G
7 Hope Solo (Seattle Reign) 200/0.
In the first half, was lucky France didn’t exploit after she swung and missed at a corner-kick cross, but she also tipped a Wendie Renard header onto the crossbar and snuffed a golden close-range chance from Marie-Laure Delie. Responded well to two second-half corner kicks during France’s comeback attempt and finished with six saves.
5 Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC) 84/2.
Right back wasn’t tested much because France preferred attacks down the other wing but was occupied enough to limit her attacking forays. She did launch the ball into French territory that started the scoring sequence.
6 Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers)
Central defender stepped in competently for Julie Johnston. Alongside Sauerbrunn, helped keep France from penetrating through the middle. Was part of the scoring sequence when she laid the ball off to Morgan Brian
7 Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City) 111/0.
Constantly intercepted low and high balls and her composure proved invaluable behind an incohesive U.S. midfield, especially in the first half.
4 Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns) 67/3.
Left back struggled to contain Delie, who had France’s best first-half chance after battling her off the ball. Gave up second-half corner while not under pressure. She did come forward frequently enough to help swing momentum the USA’s way in the second half.
4 Allie Long (Portland Thorns) 12/2.
Defensive midfielder improved in the second half after giveaways in the first half but didn’t manage to provide significant support for the attackers in front of her.
5 Morgan Brian (Houston Dash) 56/4.
Had little impact until she delivered the pass to wide-open Tobin Heath, whose shot off the post led to the gamewinner.
7 Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns) 121/15.
Her free kick down the middle that keeper Sarah Bouhaddi tipped over the bar was only U.S. first-half threat. Her shot from a narrow angle was tipped off the post by Bouhaddi to set up Lloyd’s goal. Her left-wing attacks helped the French from regaining their first-half rhythm.
6 Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash) 226/99.
Frustrated for much of the game -- she was caught offside three times and misplayed balls -- but ended up the hero by being at the right place at the right time to score the decider.
5 Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit) 37/15.
Provided some rare U.S. attacks, from the right wing, in the first half, and also helped out defensively.
4 Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) 114/68.
French defense had little trouble rendering the USA’s attacking spearhead ineffective.
5 Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit) 92/1.
Replaced Dunn in the 70th minute and provided a scare when she blasted a French corner kick into the outside side-netting of U.S. goal. But also helped produce a couple counterattacks to disrupt France’s late onslaught.
nr Lindsay Horan
(Portland Thorns) 22/3.
Replaced Lloyd for the last eight minutes.
nr Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars) 72/34.
Replaced Klingenberg for three minutes of stoppage time.
(Ratings: 1=low; 5=average; 10=high.)
TRIVIA. Hope Solo earned her 200th cap, the first goalkeeper to reach that mark, and posted her 102nd shutout. Carli Lloyd, who also scored in the opener against New Zealand, now has eight Olympic goals, second only to Abby Wambach’s 10.
Aug. 6 in Belo Horizonte
USA 1 France 0. Goals: Lloyd 63.
USA -- Solo; O'Hara, Engen, Sauerbrunn, Klingenberg (Press, 90); Long, Brian, Lloyd (Horan, 82); Dunn (Krieger, 70), Morgan, Heath.
France -- Bouhaddi; Houara, Renard, Mbock Bathy, Majri; Abily (Hamraoui, 83), Henry, Bussaglia; Diani, Delie (Lavogez, 86), Cadamuro (Thomis, 70).