The United States women's national team defeated Australia 4-3 in the Olympic bronze medal match on Thursday. Ultimately, if it was the swan song for the veterans of the USWNT, it was a worthy one as the side managed to regain some of their swagger in an exciting, high scoring, up and down match. The United States needed all four of Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd's goals to hold on as Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord, and Emiliy Gielnik's scored for Australia.
The USWNT got off to an early start on the attack as Rapinoe, Lloyd, and Christen Press led the team in their signature high press against Australia -- a familiar pace that had been missing from the team throughout the tournament. The breakthrough goal came off a set piece corner opportunity in the 8th minute for the U.S. as the 36-year-old forward opened the scoring on an Olympico, scoring directly from a corner kick.
The match quickly opened up as Australia equalized with a goal from Kerr in the 17th minute after a poor defensive decision out of the back from Tierna Davidson. That levelled the game for a brief period of time but four minutes later Team USA went back ahead as Rapinoe recorded her second goal of the match.
From then on it was the Carli Lloyd show. The two sides played out an open first half and Lloyd extended the lead just ahead of halftime to give the team a 3-1 lead.
Second half shift
There were no immediate changes to the lineup as the second half began. Lloyd recorded a brace of her own early to give the U.S. a 4-1 lead in the 51st minute. The goal was Lloyd's 10th all-time Olympic goal, making her the all time USWNT goal scorer in the Olympics while also tying her with also tying her with Birgit Prinz for the fifth most international goals of all time.
Australia's Caitlin Foord cut into the lead with a header in the 53rd minute, and Kerr nearly brought the Matildas within one just two minutes later as her shot spun off the post in front of the goal line. As the match remained open, and the U.S. made substitutions, Team USA still remained active in the final third, including another opportunity by Lloyd that crossed the goal line but was ruled offside.
Late game dramatics extended into the final minutes as Gielnik connected on goal for Australia in the 89th minute. Despite the extended injury time added to stoppage due to Alex Morgan coming out of the game with an injury, Australia was unable to capitalize on the late game momentum.
USA on the podium
The USWNT closed out their Olympics playing familiar soccer in a high press with energy and swagger in the final third. It was a tactical theme that was largely missing during their Olympic group stage and early moments of the knockout rounds. The recognizable joy returned in their final match of the competition and paid off in victory and reward. The bronze medal victory is the first ever in USA women's soccer Olympic history.
United States 4, Australia 2
United States ⚽: Megan Rapinoe 8'
Australia ⚽: Sam Kerr 17'
United States ⚽: Megan Rapinoe 21'
United States ⚽: Carli Lloyd 45' +2
United States ⚽: Carli Lloyd 51'
Australia ⚽: Caitlin Foord 54'
Australia ⚽: Emily Gielnik