US tops Japan to take Olympic women's soccer gold


US tops Japan to take Olympic women's soccer gold

WEMBLEY, England (AP) -- Hope Solo found herself enveloped in a group hug at the final whistle. Abby Wambach ran to join the fun in a celebration that unleashed a year of bottled-up frustration. The U.S. women's soccer team won its third straight Olympic gold medal Thursday, beating Japan 2-1 in a rematch of last year's World Cup final and avenging the most painful loss in its history. Carli Lloyd scored early in both halves, Solo leaped and dived to make saves, and the entire roster found the redemption it had been seeking since that penalty kick shootout loss in Germany last summer. Before 80,203 at Wembley Stadium, a record crowd for a women's soccer game at the Olympics, the teams put on a back-and-forth, don't-turn-your-head soccer showcase, proving again that these are the two premier teams in the world. Women's soccer is still in its formative stages in Britain, but the match proved more than worthy for the hallowed grounds of the beautiful game. And the Japanese perhaps played just as beautifully as the Americans, using their speed and discipline to dominate possession and scoring chances for long stretches before finally cutting a 2-0 deficit in half with about a half-hour to go. Back home, America was paying attention -- just as it was last year and despite the rest of the Olympic events. Even President Barack Obama, during a campaign speech at Colorado College during the second half of the game, noted that, "The women are doing pretty good right now in soccer." Lloyd's goals came in eighth and 54th minutes, making it four goals in the tournament for the midfielder who lost her long-held starting job weeks before the Olympics. She got back on the pitch when Shannon Boxx injured her hamstring in the opening game and started every game since. Yuki Ogimi answered in the 63rd minute, and Asuna Tanaka nearly had the equalizer in the 83rd -- only to be thwarted when Solo flung her entire body to the left to push the ball away. The U.S. team has won four of the five Olympic titles since women's soccer was introduced at the 1996 Atlanta Games, settling for mere silver at the 2000 Games in Sydney. In the first half, Japan was unfortunate not to have a penalty kick awarded for a clear hand ball by U.S. midfielder Tobin Heath, who stuck out her left arm to stop a free kick inside the area. Japan also had two shots hit the crossbar, one off the left hand of a leaping Solo, who was kept consistently busy for the first time this tournament. The closest the U.S. came to doubling the lead in the first 45 minutes came when Azusa Iwashimizu attempted to clear a routine ball played in front of the net -- and headed it off the post. The U.S. goal in the eighth minute began with a run by Heath down the left side. She fed Alex Morgan, who settled the ball near the goal line, spun and chipped it toward Wambach. Wambach raised her left foot for the shot, but Lloyd charged in and got to it first, her strong running header beating goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto from 6 yards out. Lloyd extended the lead with a 20-yard right-footer just inside the left post after a long run with the ball through the middle of the Japanese defense. Ogimi soon cut the deficit to one after a mad scramble in front of the net. Captain Christie Rampone saved a shot off the line, but the ball went to Homare Sawa, who fed Ogimi for the tap-in. Another scramble followed after U.S. defender Amy LePeilbet saved yet another shot off the line in the 74th minute, but this time her teammates were able to corral the ball before a Japanese player could pounce on it. Boxx was back into the starting lineup after the missing four games with the hamstring injury. Lauren Cheney, who injured an ankle in the semifinals, began the game on the bench for the first time this tournament. Canada won the bronze earlier Thursday, beating France 1-0 at Coventry.

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WATCH: Jay Gruden, Kirk Cousins and the Redskins arrive at Heathrow Airport

WATCH: Jay Gruden, Kirk Cousins and the Redskins arrive at Heathrow Airport

Wearing matching team sweatsuits — as well as matching looks of weariness — the Redskins landed at Heathrow Airport on Friday around 9 a.m. local time and were greeted by eager fans looking to get a rare glimpse of their visiting favorite NFL team.

Scot McCloughan, DeSean Jackson and Chris Baker were seen striding through the jetway after the group's plane arrived. Inside of the terminal, Jay Gruden, Kirk Cousins and Josh Norman posed for selfies and signed some autographs for a handful of supporters donning Burgundy and Gold. 

To see all of CSN's footage of Washington's first steps in London, watch the video in the player above.


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Morning tip: Brooks ponders fixes for Wizards' 2nd unit after loss to Hawks

Morning tip: Brooks ponders fixes for Wizards' 2nd unit after loss to Hawks

ATLANTA -- The first three shots taken by bench players, two from Andrew Nicholson and one by Trey Burke, went in. That's pretty much where the highlights ended for the Wizards' reserves in a 114-99 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. The rest of the time they were at a loss at what to do in half-court offense.

"There were a lot of times you couldn't hear the play call," said forward-center Jason Smith, who had four turnovers in just nine minutes. "It was a great away atmosphere. We have to learn to deal with that. We have to learn maybe some visual cues on what the play is, maybe some silent calls what the play is but really get it out there so everybody see it. As long as we get into what we're running no matter how loud it is, we all know what we're doing. We'll be OK."

The biggest weakness with the Wizards in previous seasons was a bench that was inconsistent. This group is younger and has more versatility, but basic communication was a problem with Burke who is in his first year in Washington.

After Kelly Oubre opened the second quarter with a three-pointer for a 30-29 lead, the Hawks went on a 9-0 run. Marcus Thornton missed a three-pointer, Smith stepped out of bounds after grabbing a defensive rebound, Oubre missed a layup, Smith missed a jumper, Burke had a bad pass turnover, Oubre missed a three, Nicholson missed consecutive shots and had a turnover. 

Coach Scott Brooks saw enough and was forced to call a timeout. He trusted the group and sent them back out again and Burke was short on his jump shot.

"The thing I'm thinking of now, it's just one game," Brooks said. "They will get better. We will play better. I thought that second unit, we still have to figure out how we can score. We have to really just focus on getting stops helping us score. ... It was an entire team issue. We're all in it together. We have to figure out how to keep scoring, keep moving the ball with that second unit."

Wall made an assessment of what he wants to see from Burke, who is slotted above Tomas Satoransky as the primary backup.

"We got lost at times when we weren't moving the ball," Wall said. "Defensively, we just lost our man and that hurt. I think they've got to get into sets more. Trey got to do a better job of calling out (plays) so everybody can hear it so you don't have certain people running one play and some people running another play."

Last season, the reserves were run by Ramon Sessions. They didn't try to play in flow as much as Wall with the first unit, going into immediate pick-and-roll action to put the defense on its heels. They preferred a more structured half-court offense.

"First, we have to get on the same page. It's a lot easier if we would get stops on the defensive end," said Smith. "Then we could push the ball out where we won't have to get into sets. We could get easy transition baskets, easy drive-and-kick in transition. ... It's tough for any team to score on a set defense."

Nicholson had nine points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes. Burke was 4 of 7 but Oubre shot 1-for-6 and Thornton 2-for-8. 

"I don't think you can point the finger at anybody. Me being the point guard out there, I feel I could've done a better job setting things up," Burke said. "It's Game 1. You can't take too much from Game 1. We can definitely get better from it. We don't think it was the offensive end. It's definitley the defensive end.

"It's contagious. If your defense is slacking, your offense is going to be slacking. If the other team is scoring easy buckets on the offensive end, defesnviely they're fired up. It's a two way street for both units."

[RELATED: Wall falls hard on previously broken hand]