The United States Women Soccer Team, attempting to become queens of the soccer world for the first since 1999, got off to the start they needed in the “Group of Death.”
The No. 2 ranked Americans used strong performances from Megan Rapinoe and goalie Hope Solo to win their opening World Cup game over No. 10 Australia 3-1 in Edmonton, British Columbia.
“Everybody stepped up, and Hope Solo was freaking huge,” Rapinoe said to Fox Sports 1, which was televising the contest. “It’s big. (It’s) obviously the first tournament for a lot of people, only my second… so to get out of here with a win (with) three points is huge.”
Rapinoe scored two goals and Solo came up with four saves, including two crucial saves in the first half. Christen Press tallied the other goal for the U.S.
Rapinoe got things going early for the Americans as she scored off a free kick from Julie Johnston.
Australia’s Lisa De Vanna knotted the game up at 1 when she beat Solo from the center box with a left-footed boot to the right corner at the 27 minute mark. Michele Heyman was credited with the assist.
The game remained tied until Sydney Leroux made a run and slid the ball to Press, who was at the top of the box. Press rifled a right-footed shot passed a diving Melissa Barbieri and into the goal. Rapinoe added an insurance goal on a fast break at 78th minute mark, Carli Lloyd got the assist.
With the victory, the U.S. is sitting atop of Group D standings — which is the only group of the six -four team groups to have three teams ranked in FIFA’s top-10. The Americans are now 23-0-2 against the Australians according to the Associated Press.
The Sporting News reported that star striker Alex Morgan, who replaced Leroux at the 79th minute mark, saw limited time for the U.S. because she is still recovering from a bone bruise in her left knee. Morgan has been out injured since April 11.
Sweden and Nigeria are the other two teams in Group D and they each have one point after they drew their match 3-3 on Monday. Cameroon and Japan also earned a victories on Monday.
Nigeria scored three goals in the second half to overcome a 2-0 deficit and earn a 3-3 draw with No. 5 Sweden.
Sweden struck first on an own goal, though Ugochi Desire Oparanozie was credited with the goal. Then at the 31st minute, Nilla Fischer put the Swede’s up 2-0.
Nigeria pulled even as Ngozi Okobi and Asisat Oshoala scored three minutes apart in the second half. Sweden went back ahead when reserve Linda Sembrant tallied a goal at the 60th minute mark. Francisca Ordega’ s goal in the 87th minute gave Nigeria a much-needed point.
Sweden will face the U.S. on Friday while Nigeria and Australia will square off.
Cameroon 6, Ecuador 0
Gaelle Enganamouit recorded a hat trick and Cameroon tallied three goals on penalty kicks.
Japan 1, Switzerland 0
Japan escaped its opening game with a victory as Aya Miyama scored on a penalty kick in the 29th minute. Switzerland controlled possession, holding a 55 percent-45 percent advantage. Each team managed just three shots on goal.
[photo by Kevin D. Cox/ Getty Images]