The USWNT finished a disappointing Olympics with a bronze medal after two goals each from veteran stars Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe saw them beat Australia 4-3.
It is a second successive Olympics in which the United States have failed to win at least a silver, but victory in the bronze medal match at least ensured there would be no repeat of 2016 when the reigning world champions went home from Brazil empty handed.
The group stage match between these two countries last week ended goal-less, but an early goal from Rapinoe only minutes into the contest meant there would be no repeat of that stalemate.
Perhaps fitting for the circumstances, the first goal of the game was an ‘Olimpico’ from the 36-year-old – a goal straight from a corner kick. Sam Kerr equalised for Australia not long after, but Rapinoe’s second of the game, a volley, restored the American lead that was ultimately never relinquished.
Lloyd scored her two goals either side of half-time, making her the top scoring USWNT player in Olympic history, to extend the advantage to 4-1. Caitlin Foord pulled one back to make it 4-2, but a 90th minute strike from Emily Gielnik came just too late to mount a proper comeback.
Rapinoe had reflected on the ‘dumb stuff’ the USWNT did when they were beaten by Sweden and later lamented that ‘it sucks’ to lose to Canada for the first time in her long international career.
After securing bronze, she told New York Times reporter Andrew Das that the players had met between themselves before the match, “…we could either play s*** or we could play great.”
They seemingly chose the latter. But although the next Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand is only two years away, there is every chance this could be the last time that several of this USWNT roster are seen at a global international tournament.
Lloyd will turn 40 next summer, Rapinoe, as mentioned, and Becky Sauerbrunn are both 36, while Tobin Heath, Kelley O’Hara and Alyssa Naeher are 33, and Alex Morgan and Christen Press are 32.