An early start to the Olympics turned into an early hole for the U.S. women’s soccer team, which gave up two quick goals before unleashing an attack the rest of the world will find hard to stop.
Abby Wambach used her size and strength to put in a header, Alex Morgan applied her speed to chip one over the goalkeeper – assisted by former University of Washington star Hope Solo – and Carli Lloyd broke the tie with a 25-yard rocket. All of which sent the two-time defending gold medalists to a 4-2 victory over France on Wednesday in Glasgow, Scotland, as they opened their London Games far from London.
Morgan added an insurance goal — created by a nice run from Tobin Heath — for the Americans, who began play two days before the opening ceremony. Soccer starts its Olympic run early so it has time to play a full tournament.
The Americans allowed more goals in the first few minutes than they had allowed in any game since the World Cup final loss to Japan last year. Gaetane Thiney (12th minute) and Marie-Laure Delie (14th) found holes in a supposedly impenetrable defense — a potential cause for U.S. concern as the grueling tournament progresses.
But Wambach scored in the 19th, Morgan in the 32nd, Lloyd in the 56th and Morgan again in the 66th. Wambach now has 139 international goals in her pursuit of Mia Hamm’s record of 158, and 23-year-old “Baby Horse” Morgan — the second-youngest player on the team — has a remarkable 19 this year alone.
It was hardly a surprise to see the French make it a game. France entered these Olympics on a 17-game winning streak.
The United States plays Colombia in its second group game Saturday.
Wambach, who has the best header in women’s soccer, started the comeback by nodding in Megan Rapinoe’s corner kick.
The goal awakened a crowd that had behaved as if watching a BBC documentary. Chants of “U-S-A!” echoed around Hampden Park, the 109-year-old landmark that serves as Scotland’s national stadium.
The American fans who made the trip had their enthusiasm rewarded when goalkeeper Solo got an assist when her long ball was chased down on the first bounce by Morgan, who chipped it over goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi to tie it.
N. KOREANS MIFFED
In the second game in Glasgow, organizers mistakenly displayed the South Korean flag on a jumbo screen instead of North Korea’s before the match between North Korea and Colombia. Consequently, the North Koreans refused to take the field for nearly an hour.
“If this matter couldn’t have been resolved, then I thought going on is nonsense,” coach Sin Ui Gun said through an interpreter after North Korea won, 2-0.
The coach said the organizers corrected the mix-up and apologized.
Two-time Olympic fencing champion Mariel Zagunis will carry the U.S. flag in the opening ceremony. … Voula Papachristou, 23, a triple-jump competitor, was removed from Greece’s team after she tweeted a disparaging comment about African immigrants to Greece. … Moroccan runner Mariem Alaoui Selsouli, considered a medal contender in the 1,500 meters, was provisionally suspended after she tested positive for doping.