On a rollicking night when England’s sporting cathedral swelled with their relentlessness, the USA women’s soccer team didn’t simply gain revenge.
They clutched it. They wore it. They owned it.
One goal bounced from Carli Lloyd’s head as she flew, and another soared off her orange-booted right foot as she sprinted. Countless stops soaked through Abby Wambach’s headband as she muscled through every minute. All but one attack died at the end of the long green sleeves of Hope Solo, her leaping saves occasionally knocking the ball halfway to France.
It was redemption for nearly two hours and then, after a 2-1 victory over Japan on Thursday in the Olympic gold-medal game here, it was exhausted relief. A year after blowing two leads in losing to Japan in the World Cup championship game, the USA women’s soccer team was once again the best on the planet, and they wept at the power of it all.
“We weren’t going home without the gold medal,” said a red-eyed Lloyd. “We all said that, and then we did it.”
Then it seemed they weren’t going home at all. As many of the 80,203 fans roared from the vast corners of Wembley Stadium, Wambach wrapped herself in the American flag and crumpled at midfield. Megan Rapinoe ran in front of the stands and tearfully opened her arms wide in wonder. Solo hugged anybody, everybody, maybe all 80,203 of them.
“The resilience of this team is amazing,” said Wambach. “We just never, ever give up.”
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