US advances to quarterfinals after 0-0 draw with Australia

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

KASHIMA, Japan (AP) — The United States did what was necessary to advance at the Tokyo Olympics, it just wasn’t exactly the high-flying offensive juggernaut that the Americans are known for.

The U.S. women made it through to the quarterfinals of the women’s soccer tournament after a 0-0 draw with Australia on Tuesday in an stadium mainly empty save for a group of Japanese schoolchildren.

The Americans are looking to win a fifth Olympic gold medal in Tokyo. They are also vying to become the first team to win at the Olympics following a World Cup title.

But they’ve made it hard on themselves at the Tokyo Games. They lost to Sweden 3-0 in their opening match — snapping a 44-game unbeaten streak — before rebounding with a 6-1 victory over New Zealand.

The draw with Australia secured the United States second place in Group G behind Sweden on goal difference. The Americans will face the Netherlands, the top finisher in Group F, in Yokohama on Friday. The game is a rematch of the 2019 World Cup final, which the United States won 2-0.

“It was a tactical decision by (coach Vlatko Andonovski) to shift defensively, a little more conservatively, and really allow them to get impatient, play along and give it back to us,” U.S. forward Alex Morgan said. “Eventually, I feel like both teams kind of sat in, and it became a matter of playing a professional game and moving on.”

The United States made five lineup changes from the last match against New Zealand, which was not unexpected given the tight competition schedule. Morgan was back up front, in place of Carli Lloyd, while Megan Rapinoe replaced Tobin Heath. Captain Becky Sauerbrunn and defender Kelley O’Hara also returned to the starting lineup.

Morgan broke away early in the game but her hard shot was stopped by Australia goalkeeper Teagan Micah.

Morgan’s header in the 30th minute was disallowed for offside, a call that was confirmed by video review. The United States also had four goals called back for offside in the first half of the victory over New Zealand.

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