Americans win gold in overtime, 1-0

Lloyd scores winner, defense holds in victory over Brazil

Olympic Women's soccer

Beijing 2008

August 22, 2008|By Tribune Olympic Bureau

BEIJING - A storied era in U.S. women's soccer ended when Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and other pioneers retired as Olympic champions after the Athens Games, but another promising era might have dawned yesterday on a soggy field at Workers' Stadium.

The U.S. women won their third gold medal awarded for women's soccer in four Olympic tournaments by edging Brazil, 1-0, on midfielder Carli Lloyd's extra-time goal. The U.S. team had defeated Brazil in Athens, also in overtime, but this team has a different roster and is less famous than its predecessor. Yesterday, it proved no less resilient than those legendary teams led by Hamm, Foudy, Kristine Lilly and Joy Fawcett.

Lloyd's left-footed shot from just outside the box skipped past the left arm of Brazilian goalkeeper Barbara and bounced into the net in the sixth minute of extra time, capping a strong push by an offense that had been dormant the first 80 minutes.

"I just knew that I had to keep it low, strike it hard and it went in," Lloyd said.

Lloyd almost scored again, in the 27th minute of extra time, but her shot caromed off the right goal post.

The U.S. women withstood some late challenges by Brazil, including Marta's free kick in the 24th minute of extra time and Renata Costa's free kick in the 30th minute of extra time.

But their counterparts on the U.S. water polo and softball teams were upset in their respective finals, and the women's 400-meter relay team was disqualified when the runners could not complete a baton exchange.

With Brazilian soccer legend Pele watching from a suite, the Brazilian women displayed their celebrated skills and speed, and had the better of the play for much of the night. But they did not prevail, and despite being able to tap such formidable talent, Brazil's women's and men's teams continue to seek their first Olympic gold medal.

Brazil had an excellent chance to take the lead in the 72nd minute, when Marta eluded two U.S. defenders and blasted a shot from deep on the left side. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo made a spectacular save, blocking the ball with her right arm.

It was a satisfying victory for Solo, who was benched in favor of Brianna Scurry for the U.S. team's World Cup semifinal game against Brazil a year ago, also in China, and was banished from the team after she criticized the decision made by then-coach Greg Ryan. However, Ryan was not retained and was replaced by Pia Sundhage, who has made Solo her starting goalkeeper.

"Vindicated? I feel great, I feel amazing. I just won a gold medal," Solo said.

The U.S. offense was quiet for most of the game but produced a bevy of dangerous chances late in the second half. The first resulted from a corner kick in the 85th minute and the second from a shot by Angela Hucles just inside the arc, but Barbara was up to the challenge both times.

In the 90th minute, Amy Rodriguez made a solo dash for a shot that Barbara parried. Rodriguez, who won the NCAA title with Southern California in December, was stopped again, less acrobatically, on a long shot seconds later.

U.S. defender Heather Mitts was assessed a yellow card in the 37th minute for a rough tackle on Formiga just past midfield as Brazil tried to get an attack going.

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