USWNT bounces Netherlands on penalties to reach Olympic semifinals
The USWNT is through to the semifinals of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after surviving a penalty shootout against the Netherlands in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Vivianne Miedema beat Alyssa Naeher twice in regular time, but it was their shootout encounter which proved decisive and Naeher’s chance for redemption. Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams got the goals for the USWNT, who first came back from a goal down before coughing up a 2-1 lead shortly after halftime.
3 things we learned: USWNT - Netherlands
1. No one makes you pay like Miedema: Inexplicably, no one stepped to Miedema in the middle of the penalty area as she scored he first goal, and Naeher made a mess of a seemingly tame strike as the 25-year-old Dutch goal machine bagged her second. These are inexcusable mistakes against a player of Miedema’s caliber — she’s more than good enough to beat you at your best, let alone when you give her one (or two) for free.
2. Where there’s a Will(iams), there’s a way: Williams was called upon to make her first start of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and all she did was deliver a goal and an assist in her 57-minute shift. Williams was the bolt of lightning needed to shock the USWNT awake after a slow start — both on Friday and throughout these Olympic Games.
3. Substitutions made the USWNT worse: Vlatko Andonovski made a triple-change just before the hour mark, with the USWNT 2-1 ahead, and there’s hardly a logical defense to be argued in favor of the move. Taking Williams off made the USWNT narrower and slower on the counter-attack, and taking Mewis off made them anything but dangerous on balls played into the box. Given those are the ways in which the USWNT scored its two goals, it’s a strange decision by Andonovski, to say the least.
Player of the Match: Lynn Williams - Just go ahead and say she’s starting in the semifinals, Vlatko. Cool? Cool.
Recap & highlights: USWNT - Netherlands
Miedema opened the scoring after 18 minutes, and what a sensational strike it was from the Arsenal superstar. The USWNT defense seemed to switch off ever so briefly as the ball bounced near the penalty spot, and that’s all the time and space Miedema needed to swivel and snap a shot into the bottom corner.
The lead last just 10 minutes, though, as Mewis headed home from Williams’ cross in the 28th minute and then Williams turned home a volley of her own three minutes later.
Miedema struck again in the 54th minute to pull the Netherlands level at 2-2 and cross the 10-goal threshold at the 2020 Olympics. Miedema scored four, two, two and two goals in her four appearances in Tokyo.
Christen Press was denied a potential winner in the 63rd minute, when she turned home Lindsey Horan’s fantastic ball into the box from an ever so narrowly offside position. It was the second time an American player had a goal ruled out for offside after Tobin Heath sniped the far corner in transition during the first half.
Disaster looked like striking and sending the USWNT home in the 80th minute after Kelley O’Hara barged through the back of Lineth Beerensteyn. Fortunately for the Americans, it was Lieke Martens who took the ensuing penalty kick, and she placed it comfortably within Naeher’s reach.
Naeher began the penalty shootout by denying Miedema in the first round and Rose Lavelle converted to put the USWNT ahead from the start. Three rounds later, Naeher stone-walled Aniek Nouwen and Megan Rapinoe hammered the USWNT’s fourth and final spot kick into the upper-90.
Up next for the USWNT is a rematch of their epic 2012 Olympic semifinal clash with Canada, on Monday (4 am ET).