Soccer: U.S. women open Olympics with win

By Joseph White

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, July 25 2012 8:16 p.m. MDT

United States' Abby Wambach, right, heads the ball over France's Ophelie Meilleroux , left, during the women's group G soccer match between the United States and France at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 25, 2012, at Hampden Park Stadium in Glasgow. (AP Photo/Chris Clark)

Associated Press

GLASGOW, Scotland — An early start to the Olympics turned into an early hole for the U.S. women's soccer team, which gave up two quick goals before unleashing an attack the rest of the world will find hard to stop.

Abby Wambach used her size and strength to put in a header, Alex Morgan applied her speed to chip one over the goalkeeper and Carli Lloyd broke the tie with a 25-yard rocket. All of which sent the two-time defending goal medalists to a 4-2 victory over France on Wednesday as they opened their London Games far from London.

Morgan added an insurance goal — created by a nice run from Tobin Heath — for the Americans, which began play two days before the opening ceremony and 400-plus miles from the British capital. Soccer starts its Olympics early so it has time to play a full tournament of games.

The Americans allowed more goals in the first handful of minutes than they had allowed in any game since the World Cup final loss to Japan last year. Gaetane Thiney (12th minute) and Marie-Laure Delie (14th) found holes in a supposedly impenetrable defense — a potential cause for U.S. concern as the grueling tournament progresses.

But Wambach scored in the 19th, Morgan in the 32nd, Lloyd in the 56th and Morgan again in the 66th. Wambach now has 139 international goals in her pursuit of Mia Hamm's record of 158, and 23-year-old "Baby Horse" Morgan — the second-youngest player on the team — has a remarkable 19 this year alone.

While the Americans are favored to win gold again — and even though the U.S. is now 13-0-1 all-time against France — it was hardly a surprise to see the French make it a game. The teams were tied late in the second half in last year's World Cup semifinals before the Americans finished off a 3-1 win, and France entered these Olympics on a 17-game winning streak.

The United States plays Colombia in its second group game on Saturday. France will face North Korea.

The 52,000-seat stadium was perhaps one-third full at kickoff, but the game needed to draw only a couple of thousand to surpass the all-time Scottish record for attendance at a women's game. Organizers gave away some 30,000 tickets to schools and local clubs to keep the stands from being embarrassingly empty in a region where soccer is overwhelmingly a man's game.

The American fans who made the trip had their enthusiasm rewarded when goalkeeper Solo got an assist when her long ball was chased down on the first bounce by Morgan, who chipped it over goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi to tie the score.

U.S. flag bearer named

LONDON (AP) — Two-time Olympic fencing champion Mariel Zagunis will carry the U.S. flag in the opening ceremony of the London Games.

The U.S. Olympic Committee says Zagunis won a vote of the 529-strong team ahead of Friday's ceremony.

Zagunis says she is "extremely humbled by this incredible privilege."

She was the first American to win a fencing gold in 100 years at the 2004 Athens Games.

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