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American bask in epic gold medal win over Brazil

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 22 Aug 2008

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The United States were Friday basking in the glow of their tenacious gold medal victory over Brazil in a memorable final that did much to showcase the growing spectacle of women’s football.

Midfielder Carli Lloyd provided the winning goal for the defending Olympic champions with a rasping angled drive in the 96th minute to leave the Brazilians in tears and acclaim from the capacity crowd at the Workers’ Stadium.

USA coach Pia Sundhage, a pioneer of women’s football who played 22 years with Sweden, said the final was the perfect advertisement for women’s football.

“Coaching in the final yesterday it was so good for my heart that so many people are engaged in women’s soccer,” Sundhage said Friday.

“If you looked at the quality of the game and the excitement, it had everything, extra time, that game was not only good for the USA, but it was good for women’s soccer overall.

“Women’s football is improving all the time and it’s getting tighter and tighter, so now you have a handful of teams that can win the Olympics and the World Cup and that’s really good for women’s soccer overall.”

The Americans celebrated long into the early hours Friday after a weathering the all-star Brazilian attack, featuring the indomitable Marta and topscoring Cristiane.

Brazil were super confident that they had the measure of the Americans after also losing out in extra time in the Athens final four years ago, but the devastated looks on their faces at the medal ceremony betrayed how acute the losing experience was yet again.

The Americans, especially their goalkeeper Hope Solo and defensive back four, stymied Brazil’s attempts to break through in a match of unrelenting intensity and drama.

“We sensed they were getting frustrated,” right-back Heather Mitts said.

“Things are going to happen, we are going to get beat every once in a while by these guys, there are just way too good, but we knew that we couldn’t get down on ourselves and I think that confidence throughout all our games got us to where we are now.

“Later on in the game, especially when it went into overtime we could tell by their body language that they were really tired, so that we knew that we had to take advantage of that.”

The victory comes after America’s demoralising 4-0 loss to Brazil in the semi-finals of last year’s World Cup in China and just nine months after Sundhage took over as national coach.

“It says a lot about the team that we were able to come back after the (opening) Norway loss here and after a huge devastating loss at the World Cup last year and losing some players as well,” Mitts said.

Pia not only strives for the players on the field but makes the chemistry off it and I think that definitely contributed to this gold medal.

“It’s just so much fun playing for her, we’ve found a new passion and really love for one another.”

Sundhage looks guaranteed to stay in the US coach job for some time after resurrecting the American team after the World Cup shambles.

“It’s the best job I’ve ever had, it’s just the best thing that I’ve ever done and as a coach this is unbelievable, sort of a pipe dream,” she said.

“Hopefully, it will be for another four years because the difference will be that the new league is coming up back home, which I’m really looking forward to to get some new players.”

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SoccerNews

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