After suffering penalty-kick heartbreak in the quarterfinals of the Olympics five years ago, the U.S. women's national team has struck for a measure of redemption.
The U.S. ousted the Netherlands on spot kicks following a 2–2 draw, with Alyssa Naeher making two saves in the shootout—after making another one near the end of regular time—while the U.S. was perfect on all four of its takes to go through and set up a semifinal date vs. Canada on Monday (4 a.m. ET).
The quarterfinal in Yokohama, Japan, came on the heels of an uncharacteristic group stage for the U.S., which finished second to Sweden in the group and saw its 44-match unbeaten streak come to an end. Despite a bright start on Friday, the U.S. was forced to play from behind, but appeared to have found a bit of its mojo again before being taken to extra time and penalty kicks.
Vivianne Miedema added to her Olympic record with her ninth and 10th goals of the competition, but she had her opening spot kick saved by Naeher. Aniek Nouwen also had her kick saved, while Rose Lavelle, Alex Morgan, Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe all converted to keep the U.S. alive.
Miedema opened the scoring for the Dutch in the 18th minute, only for Sam Mewis to equalize 10 minutes later and surprise starter Lynn Williams to give the U.S. the lead three minutes after that. Miedema's first goal came against the run of play, with the U.S. having enjoyed a bright opening quarter of an hour with a lineup that featured plenty of surprises.
Morgan, Rapinoe, Press and Lavelle were all confined to the bench, with Williams—an alternate only on the full roster due to the IOC expanding squads from 18 to 22 players—Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath starting up front and Lavelle, who scored in each of the U.S.'s past two meetings vs. the Netherlands, being looked over in favor of Lindsey Horan and Mewis in the midfield.
Nevertheless, Vlatko Andonovski's changes appeared to pay off at the start. The U.S. pressed well and was on the front foot. Heath had a goal disallowed for offside in the 10th minute, the sixth time a U.S. goal has been chalked off by the offside flag at this tournament. Four minutes later, Horan had a header turned off the post by Netherlands goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal, but it was clear the U.S. was enjoying the early momentum.
That changed four minutes later. Danielle van de Donk's shot from the edge of the U.S. box was blocked, and it fell for Miedema, who had barely had a sniff of the action but was aggressive to be first to the loose ball and then clinical enough to beat Naeher with her shot.
The U.S. responded well, though. First, Mewis delivered a diving header off a cross from Williams to pull the U.S. even at 1–1.
Then three minutes later, the roles were reversed, with Williams firing home from the center of the box off an assist from Mewis, who simply kept the U.S. attack alive by winning a header in the Netherlands area after a corner kick.
The Dutch regrouped after halftime and found an answer in the 54th minute through a familiar source. Miedema, again, provided the response, beating Naeher with a low shot from distance and tucking it inside the post to make it 2–2.
The goal sparked a triple-change from Andonovski, with Morgan, Press and Lavelle all coming on to replace Williams, Mewis and Lloyd. Press appeared to give the U.S. the lead in the 58th minute, firing home at the back post after a cross from Horan, but the goal was taken off the board through an offside call—the seventh such instance for the U.S. in this competition—despite a lengthy VAR review.
The U.S. dodged a bullet in the 81st minute. After a foul in the box on Kelley O'Hara gifted the Netherlands a penalty kick, Naeher came up with a massive save, denying Lieke Martens's meekly hit shot to keep the match at 2–2. It was the second major PK save of Naeher's international career following her stop of Steph Houghton in the semifinals of the 2019 Women's World Cup vs. England. Two more would follow in the shootout.
That save pushed the match to extra time, and another one from Naeher kept the U.S. level in the first half of it. Miedema got free for a header, but Naeher denied it with an acrobatic save, diving to her left.
The U.S. appeared to take the lead in the 109th minute, but just like earlier in the match, Press had a goal disallowed for a tight offside call, and five minutes later Morgan suffered the same fate, with the Dutch's calamity in the back being nullified by the offside flag—the eighth and ninth times in Japan that the U.S. had a goal ruled out.
The U.S. prevailed in PKs, though, and will advance to the semifinals to face Canada, which outlasted Brazil in penalty kicks after a 0–0 draw.
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