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.
Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, September 23, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Raiders at FedEx Field.
Today’s schedule: No media availability
—Monday night Redskins @ Chiefs (10/2) 9
—Monday night Redskins @ Eagles (10/23) 30
—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 36
The Redskins week that was
Cravens officially won't return in 2017—This was the news that the Redskins had put Cravens on the reserve/left team list, which meant he can’t come back during the 2017 season. While we might hear something more on this before the end of December, the story is on hold until 2018. If Cravens does come back, he would start the second year of his rookie contract. The deal essentially is on hold until he returns (if he does, of course).
5 observations on the Redskins win over the Rams—The top takeaway was “you have to run the ball to run the ball.” Yes, it’s an obvious statement but the logic of it seems to escape Jay Gruden from time to time, as it did Sean McVay. Since Gruden came to Washington the Redskins are 3-19 when they rush for fewer than 90 yards and 1-14 when they attempt fewer than 20 runs. They committed to the run on Sunday and 229 rushing yards later they had the win.
Strong start for Smith but Redskins want to see more—Preston Smith has frustrated coaches with his inconsistency ever since arriving as a second-round pick in 2015. So, it’s too early to start thinking he’s going to have a breakout year after he started off with two sacks in two games. Still, a hot start is a key component to a breakout year and we’ll see if he keeps it up against tough opposition in the next two weeks.
First look at Redskins vs. Raiders—A Bay Area writer says that the Raiders’ offense is “doing whatever it wants” during the team’s 2-0 start. They are fourth in the NFL in total offense but they have that status primarily due to piling up 430 yards against the tanking Jets. I have no doubt that they will move the ball tomorrow night but I’m not so sure the will do whatever they want against an improved Washington defense.
Jay Gruden updates a lengthy injury report—When Gruden rattled off the injury list during his Monday press conference he listed seven players who were “day-to-day” with various injuries sustained during their physical win over the Rams. Six days later, it will be a surprise if any of them are out against the Rams tomorrow. Perhaps the most impressive injury return was that of Mason Foster. During the game, his shoulder was dislocated. He popped it back in and didn’t miss a snap. On Wednesday, less than 72 hours later, he was at practice giving some solid shoves to a blocking sled.
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In case you missed it
- Five listed as questionable
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- Why you shouldn't lament Garcon's departure — yet
- New #RedskinsTalk Podcast: Huge opportunity looms for Redskins in primetime
From the outside looking in, there wasn’t much on the line in the Capitals’ preseason game on Friday against the St. Louis Blues. Washington’s 4-0 loss won't hurt them in the standings, it won't hurt their playoff or Stanley Cup hopes.
But for many of the players, especially several of the defensive prospects, Friday’s game mattered a whole lot. That's what made it so disappointing.
“We didn’t have a lot of skin in the game there,” Barry Trotz told reporters following the loss.
Assuming the Capitals keep seven defensemen on their roster this season, there are two open spots on the blue line that players are competing for. Friday’s game offered Lucas Johansen, Christian Djoos, Aaron Ness and Tyler Lewington, who played with veterans John Carlson and Taylor Chorney, a chance to take the lead in the roster competition.
But they, along with the rest of the team, ultimately fell flat.
“It's one of those things where you come out flat in first two periods, you can't really expect to win a hockey game,” Ness said. “Your goalie's trying to make so many saves … it’s kind of unexcusable [sic] to do that to them in the first two.”
It was a rough game and a missed opportunity.
When asked if any of the defensemen had separated themselves, Trotz slowly shook his head and said, “No, not really.”
When asked if that was disappointing, he said, “Depending which way you look at it, I guess. Some guys have separated themselves in a positive way a little bit more than others and some more of a negative way. They'll figure it out. It plays out, we're just watching. I'm not too happy with our effort tonight. … I thought [the] group that was in Montreal was pretty solid. They came to play. Tonight we just didn't.”
That’s a damning statement considering Montreal’s game featured other defensemen competing for a spot such as Madison Bowey, Connor Hobbs, Jyrki Jokipakka, Jonas Siegenthaler and Colby Williams.
Clearly Wednesday's squad left an impression on Trotz. Friday's team left a much different, more disappointing one.
MORE CAPITALS: LET'S TALK ABOUT HOW THE DEFENSE DID AGAINST ST. LOUIS