USA-France: Icy Solo and sturdy Heath are difference

Plus ca change ... Well, you probably know this line. The more things change, the more they stay the same in the USA-France rivalry. Les Bleues dominated the USA for long stretches, finished with a huge edge in shots (14-7) but ultimately paid the price for their misfiring. The USA's 1-0 win on Carli Lloyd's 63rd-minute goal sent it into the quarterfinals with one game to play. Here are three keys to the U.S. win.

1. Solo effort holds off French attack.

It is notable that Hope Solo was not in goal the only time the USA lost to France in 20 meetings. She was suspended for the two-game European tour in 2015 that began when the USA fell to France, 2-0, in Lorient.

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Solo made two key saves to keep Saturday's game scoreless in the first half, tipping Wendie Renard header onto the crossbar and stopping Marie-Laure Delie from close range. Solo, who was playing in her 200th international match, also stopped Delie's downward header in the 77th minute with another of her five saves.

Solo endured chants of "Zika" and boos from the fans in the crowd at the Mineirao Stadium every time she touched the ball but did enough to ward off a furious rush of balls played into the area directed at the giant Renard.

“Hope is ice," said Lloyd. "Nothing can rattle her."

2. Heath shows off her muscle.

Besides Solo and Lloyd, the other starter from the last two Olympic gold-medal teams in the U.S. lineup is Tobin Heath. The former North Carolina star has played in the shadows of the likes of now-retired Lauren Holiday, Megan Rapinoe and Lloyd in midfield, she has been the USA's best player in its first two games.

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Heath, who credits a stint in France at Paris St. Germain for helping her mature, has always been one of the most skillful U.S. players, but she showed off her new strength against France early in the second half when she dominated on the left wing.

She muscled the excellent young French winger Kadidiatou Diani off the ball to win a free kick that came moments before the U.S. goal Heath set up when she hit a shot that keeper Sarah Bouhaddi could only tip off the post and into the path of Lloyd for an easy tap-in.

3. USA turns up the pressure in second half.

French coach Philippe Bergeroo said the game turned on the first 20 minutes of the second half when the USA pressured the French and was rewarded with Lloyd's goal. He wasn't surprised by the U.S. tactics as they were also employed in the opening game and produced a quick goal by Alex Morgan against New Zealand.

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But while the USA won again -- its 13th straight victory in Olympic competition -- the French -- playing without their best striker, Eugenie Le Sommer, out with an injured quad -- could take hope that they dominated in midfield and found themselves open time and again in scoring positions.

"There are lots of positive things," said Bergeroo.

Except on the scoreboard.

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