Friday's quarterfinal game between the United States and New Zealand was serious business. Now that the group competition is over, Olympic football has entered the knockout round, so whichever team loses each quarterfinal game is bumped from the competition.
Of course, the United States came for gold, so clearly, they weren't going to let New Zealand dash their Olympic dreams. The US ladies beat the Kiwis 2-0 in Newcastle today.
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The US made plenty of nice attempts on the NZ goal during the first half, with Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach taking shots even in the first few minutes. In her verve, Wambach collided with New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon at one point, prompting Wambach to rush to Bindon's side, putting a hand on the goalkeeper's back to make sure she was okay. It can't be said enough, really: Wambach is the definition of good sportsmanship. She's the ultimate class act.
And even more than that, she's easily one of the best players in the world, if not the best. Minutes after comforting Bindon, she scored her 142nd international goal, putting the United States in the lead. Wambach, Rapinoe and Lauren Cheney did some celebratory cartwheels before exchanging hugs and high fives. How adorable is this team?
Adorable, yes, but also fiercely strong. Wambach unintentionally hit New Zealand's Katie Hoyle in the ankle during play and earned her first yellow card of the London Olympics. That was the second yellow card for the US team; Cheney received the first during the game against North Korea. Later in the second half, Carli Lloyd also saw a flash of goldenrod, bringing the US yellow card tally to three.
The physical play kept coming after that. Alex Morgan and Jenny Bindon made some gruesome contact outside the New Zealand goal, prompting EMTs with stretchers to rush to Bindon's side. Bindon arguably stopped a goal-scoring opportunity by tripping Morgan with her face (ouch), but no fouls were given.
Morgan was replaced with Sydney Leroux toward the end of the game, and this proved valuable for the United States. With five minutes of play remaining, Sydney Leroux scored a gorgeous goal against New Zealand, giving much needed relief to the US team and their fans.
With Leroux's goal, it was clear that the United States was headed to the Olympic semifinals. New Zealand ultimately couldn't score in this game, so the US team will play either Canada or Great Britain in Coventry on Monday.
Got Olympics fever? Find the events faster, wherever you go, with the "2012 Olympics" listings on our free mobile app, the BuddyTV Guide!Sarah WatsonContributing Writer(Image courtesy of NBC)