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USWNT tie 0-0 with feisty Australia side and earn Quarterfinal berth

Lindsey Horan comes off the bench. Elimination game against the high-scoring Netherlands set for Friday in World Cup rematch.

United States v Australia: Women’s Football - Olympics: Day 4 Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

The U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) has hosted Australia three times in friendly competitions in recent times. The outcomes were fair, if not gracious: 1W-1D-1L. On July 27, goodwill, friendly play, and kind dispositions were all but forgotten when the rivals squared off in Ibaraki Kashima Stadium in Kashima, Japan. The tense early morning Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em made-for-television tussle was entertaining from the start through the nil-nil finish, especially for the thousand or so masked-upped children viewing the match from the stands.

With the 0-0 outcome, Team USA secured second place in the Group G standings and now moves on to play the Netherlands on Friday, July 30. The match will be another challenging test for the Lady Yanks, as the Oranje Leeuwinnen’s led all three groups in scoring. Their high-flying squadron of goal scorers has found the back of their worthy opponents’ nets 21 times, while Team USA had just six goals in group play.

The do-or-fly-home match will be played at International Stadium Yokohama (Nissan Stadium), just south of Tokyo, on Friday at 5 a.m. MT.

It may be of interest to USWNT fans to point out that the USA has scored more goals than have been awarded. As their trademark eagerness to press forward and gain a competitive edge over their marks has cost them a few points. Several goals in their three matches were overturned by VAR-confirmed penalty calls for offside — four during their game with New Zealand alone!

The pertinacious Aussies also punched their ticket to the Quarterfinals and will face Great Britain in the knock-out match. Group G’s first-place winner, Sweden, will play Japan.

Statistically speaking, the Matildas outplayed the U.S., who again looked as they were misfiring on the pitch and not their per usual smooth-running team. Even Australia’s head coach Tony Gustavsson was a bit miffed by the total play, saying “They were a bit passive in their pressing and I’m used to seeing them very, very aggressive.”

In the first half, Megan Rapinoe found right back Kelley O’Hara, who loafed the ball into the box to Alex Morgan. The striker delivered an Olympic-class header into the net; however, the sideline referee raised the flag and after an extended VAR review it was deemed that Morgan was offside by mere centimeters.

Morgan set up another opportunity for the Yanks to score just before the first half whistle blew. She found forward Christen Press gliding towards the goal, but the forward’s strike was handled by the strong Aussie goalkeeper, Teagan Micah.

Post-match, Alex Morgan spoke with the international media and shared some pre-game plans with her listeners, “It was a tactical decision to shift defensively, a little more conservatively, and really allow them to get impatient, play along and give it back to us. Eventually, I feel like both teams kind of sat in, and it became a matter of playing a professional game and moving on.”

U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski elected to change his midfield unit against Australia. Colorado’s Lindsey Horan was not in the starting XI. Rested, she came on in as the Team USA surged ahead in hopes for a goal. Horan fired off several shots, but did the ball did not cross the elusive goal line, including a set-piece header that just missed.

“It was a great test for us today to see that the players can execute the game plan very, very well,” Andonovski said. “So whatever we feel like we need to do to win the next game, we’re going to present it to them and then let them do their job.”

Watch the full highlights here.

The USA and the Netherlands last met on November 27, 2020, in Breda, Holland. The USWNT had just concluded their fall training camp at Dick’s Sporting Good Park in Commerce City, Colorado, and were eager to play their first international friendly in 261 pandemic-suppressed days. The U.S. defeated the Netherlands 2-0 with goals coming from midfielders Rose Lavelle and Kristie Mewis. With the triumph, the USWNT improved to 8-1-0 all-time versus the Netherlands.

The Netherlands have been a goal-scoring machine in the Summer Olympics, led by 25-year old Arsenal WFC striker Vivianne Miedema. She joined the Gunners in 2017 after playing with Bayern Munich.

To date, Miedema has scored the most goals scored in a single Olympic women’s tournament. The USWNT’s key aim will be to shut her down as they did Australia’s gifted attacker, Sam Kerr, who did not get a shot off.

In their finale, the Dutch blitzed China, 8-2, and added to their three-game Olympics’ goal total of 21.

In recent competitive play, the U.S. faced the Netherlands in the championship match of the 2019 World Cup games that were played throughout France. The Lady Yanks came up on top, 2-0, with goals arriving from Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle.