Rapinoe Brace, Solo Leads the USWNT to a 3-1 victory over Australia

pinoe roar

By MC Bousquette
USWNT Beat Writer

The United States’ opening World Cup match gave the side a tremendous shock, but ultimately, a Megan Rapinoe brace and a brilliant performance in goal from Hope Solo helped the USWNT survive against Australia in a scrappy 3-1 victory.

While Hope Solo propped up the United States, Megan Rapinoe seized the opportunity to open the match’s scoring early. Australian striker Lisa De Vanna answered with the equalizer shortly thereafter, concluding the half at 1-1. In the second half, however, the US emerged from the tunnel at a sprint and never stopped. Christen Press won the lead  back for the US early in the half. Rapinoe completed her brace for the final goal in the 3-1 US victory.

starting lineup uswnt aus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The United States and Australia came out of the gates firing, with little defense to show for it on either end of the pitch.

Hope Solo recorded her first save just three minutes in, with another shortly thereafter. This was a theme throughout the half, as Australia pressed the U.S. defense. Solo’s performance was the only facet of the US’ first-half play as consistent as the Australian bombardment.

Initially, the US attempted a direct approach, favoring long balls into the box. That strategy was discarded as Megan Rapinoe took matters into her own hands. Off a short feeder ball from Abby Wambach, Rapinoe took a shot from the top of the box, deflecting slightly off an Australian defender and into the right corner to put the US up 1-0 in the 12’.

Rapinoe’s success did little to discourage the Australian side. Forward Sam Kerr charged Solo, forcing her to compensate for a defensive error with another acrobatic save. Lauren Holiday, a very shaky first half contributor, took a free kick, bending it right towards goal and  into the hands of Australian keeper, Melissa Barbieri.

The tables turned against the United States when Australian striker Lisa De Vanna broke through a triple-teaming US defense, moving off an almost accidental pass from teammate Michelle Heyman to sink a low shot in the bottom right corner of the goal in the 28th.

Rapinoe wasn’t done yet. She tried her old favorite: the serve in to Wambach. Wambach, however, missed the easy header opportunity far wide of the goal, in what would become another of the outing’s major themes. Rapinoe tried to connect with Wambach off a free kick, but Wambach missed the opportunity again.

The offensively-dominated first half finished 1-1, looking like a track meet up and down the pitch. The US hit the ground running as the second half began, executing much more coordinated efforts into the box.

The first move came early off a free kick from Holiday. The ball met Julie Johnston at the post, but her flick into goal was grabbed by Barbieri.

Rapinoe, still not ready to give up on Wambach, tried again to feed her the ball, but the sequence ended in another Wambach miss.

After an otherwise ineffective night, Leroux became the playmaker. She charged the box, feeding the ball smoothly to Press. Press completed the chance with the low shot into the bottom right corner, to life the US to a 2-1 lead in the 61st minute.

Press post-goal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tobin Heath relieved Press in the 68th minute, and she exited the pitch to resounding cheers from the crowed.

Emily Van-Egmond  attempted the equalizing shot in the 70th minute, but Solo came in with the block.

The US retort came in the form of another Rapinoe roar in the 78th minute. She intercepted the ball at midfield and chose to make the effort herself, dribbling straight downfield and into the box. She sunk a low, cross-goal shot into the far right hand corner, giving the US a 3-1 lead over Australia.

Alex Morgan returned after a two month playing absence, replacing Leroux in the 79th. She provided an immediate impact, beating numerous Australian defenders, but ultimately showing her rust as she finished with a hard shot that missed high and wide.

For the remainder of the half, the United States’ confidence from the safety goal allowed the women to take control for the remainder of the half, with a single viable threat from Australia before the final whistle blew.

The United States’ World Cup opener proved difficult. The side saw its first major offensive challenge in some time which was inadequately handled by the US defense. Solo defensively salvaged the match, as did Rapinoe’s herculean effort throughout. The side has a lot to work on before Friday, but achieved the necessary outcome to remain afloat in the Group of Death.

As World Cup play continues, the United States takes on Sweden this Friday, June 12, at 8pm EST (FOX, NBC Universo).