Published August 03, 2012
The United States is through to the semifinals of the London 2012 Olympics women's soccer tournament, thanks to an impressive 2-0 victory over New Zealand on Friday. Their finishing was not necessarily spectacular and they probably should have put the game away much earlier than they did, but Sydney Leroux's emphatic second-half goal was the perfect exclamation point on a solid performance.
After multiple great opportunities and missed shots in the early part of the match, the United States finally found their breakthrough in the 27th minute, as Alex Morgan combined with Abby Wambach once again. Morgan hasn't been as lethal in front of goal in the Olympics as she has been in the rest of 2012, but she's been fantastic at setting up her teammates. She tallied her team-leading fourth assist with a great curling ball to the back post, which Wambach tapped in.
Morgan had a couple of excellent missed opportunities in the second half before being substituted for Leroux. Shortly after the switch was made, in the 83rd minute, New Zealand almost got back into the match with a great surge forward into the box by Rosie White, but she went down under a challenge by two U.S. defenders. The referee waived play on when she very easily could have granted a penalty for New Zealand. While White felt she deserved a penalty -- and she had a strong case -- referee Jessica di Iorio called the match very consistently, waiving play on for almost every 50-50 shoulder challenge and strong tackle throughout.
The United States would lock up the victory four minutes later, with Leroux's fresh legs making the difference. On a long ball forward, she blew past her defender, then hit a composed finish through the legs of New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon from 12 yards out, doubling the United States' lead. They now await the winner of Friday's quarterfinal between Canada and Great Britain.