Thursday, February 22, 2018
Sports

U.S. soccer starts gold hunt with win

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan scored in each half as the U.S. women's soccer team defeated New Zealand 2-0 in its Olympic debut Wednesday, getting off to a solid start in its attempt to win a fourth straight gold medal.

Lloyd put the Americans ahead with a header in the ninth minute, and Morgan added to the lead with a low shot from inside the area less than a minute into the second half at Mineirao Stadium.

"That was the best way we could have started," said Tobin Heath, who made the cross that led to Lloyd's goal. "We came out with a lot of energy and a lot of determination. I think in that regards we put our best foot forward and got that goal, and I think that helped propel us throughout the game."

The United States dominated from the start.

"I was really pleased that we got the clean sheet," U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. "I thought we moved the ball against a very determined team."

The Olympic tournament is the first major competition for the United States since the retirement of key players Abby Wambach — the career international scoring leader for women and men — and Lauren Holiday after last year's World Cup win.

In addition to playing with a younger team, the United States has players recovering from injuries, including regular starter Megan Rapinoe, who was on the bench the entire match.

The United States on Saturday faces France, which opened with a 4-0 win over Colombia.

'Zika' chants for Solo: U.S. goalie Hope Solo said she was not bothered by fans who chanted "Zika, Zika" at her during the game. The crowd of nearly 10,000 at the 60,000-capacity stadium jeered her over Twitter posts she had made about the precautions she was taking against the virus that has scared many athletes ahead of the Games.

"I'm glad the fans had fun," Solo said. "And if they had fun at my expense, more power to them."

Solo upset some Brazilians before coming to the Olympics by tweeting a photo of herself wearing a hat with mosquito netting. She also posted a photo of dozens of packs of mosquito repellent that she was packing for her trip to Brazil.

Solo said she didn't realize the fans were chanting "Zika" and thought they were yelling a homophobic slur that local teams sometimes use against goalkeepers at goal kicks. Some fans yelled the slur early in the game, but later the majority of the crowd started with the "Zika" chant.

Other games: Canada made Olympic history in its opener by taking only 20 seconds to score in a 2-0 win over Australia and then losing a player to a red card 19 minutes in at Sao Paulo. Janine Beckie's goal was the fastest ever at the Olympics, nine seconds faster than Oribe Peralta's strike for Mexico in the men's gold-medal match against Brazil four years ago. Shelina Zadorsky was sent off for dragging down Australia's Michelle Heyman on her way to goal. … In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil topped China 3-0 and Sweden beat South Africa 1-0.

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