Skip to content

Our 2012 stories of the year: Redemption at Wembley for U.S. Women

Dec 24, 2012, 4:00 PM EDT

Olympics Day 12 - Around the Games Getty Images

We should have known it was going to be Carli Lloyd. Were we given a notepad and a full bottle, locked in a room, and asked to come up with the most likely hero for the gold medal match, we’d eventually stumble from a prison of crumpled paper and dehydration with the Jersey girl’s name in hand. Of course, Lloyd would be the person to step up in London.

Four years earlier, her extra time goal against Brazil won gold in Beijing. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Lloyd temporarily lost her spot in Pia Sundhage’s starting XI only to return in time to be stepped on by Canada’s Melissa Tancredi in the semifinals. On a team looking to redeem itself after a loss in the previous year’s World Cup final, Lloyd’s own mini-comeback made her the U.S. Women’s National Team’s quintessential player ahead of a major final at one of the most famous venues on Earth.

On Aug. 9, 2012, Wembley Stadium presented Lloyd and the U.S. with their chance for revenge. Japan, the team that upset them at the World Cup, had also navigated the field, giving the Nadeshiko a chance to become the first team to pull off a World Cup-Olympic double. If the U.S. were going to be redeemed, they’d have to win a grudge match for the right to be called the best team in the world.

source: Getty ImagesBut in a game that would feature World Cup Golden Ball-winning Homare Sawa, the skill of Aya Miyama, the imposing play of Abby Wambach and the juggernaut that is Alex Morgan, Lloyd set in a stone her reputation for transcending expectations when results matter most. In the game’s ninth minute, Lloyd surged from midfield, though the Japanese area and onto a Morgan cross, bending at the waist as she ran onto another goal medal match goal. Just after halftime, the 30-year-old took matters onto her own feet, carrying a ball from near the center line to the edge of Japan’s area before burying an unstoppable shot into the left side netting. The U.S. would go onto win 2-1 in front of the largest crowd to ever witness a women’s Olympic event (80,203).

MORE: Steve Davis’s favorite story of 2012

Come Aug. 10, there was little doubt who’d claimed the title of world’s best. The U.S. had finished 6-0-0 in a tournament where each of their main rivals had stumbled at least twice, their +10 goal difference six better than the competition’s next-best total. Along the way, they’d continued to show their flair for the dramatic (an improbable and lucky semifinal comeback against Canada) as well as their ability to meet the challenges of a changing international landscape (with wins over France and Japan).

And the team was also redeemed. Harshly judged by many as having blown their chance at a world title in Germany, the U.S. women claimed their third-straight Olympic gold. Perhaps as important, the team maintained their unique place as a crossover success, one of the few points on the U.S. soccer map that not only transcends into mainstream sport but also into mainstream culture.

And thanks to their success, a few more people will have jobs, a few more kids will have heroes, and anybody who followed U.S. soccer will have reason to remember 2012.

Latest Posts
  1. Watch Live: Tottenham vs. West Brom (Lineups)

    Sep 21, 2014, 8:07 AM EDT

    Pochettino Getty Images

    Mauricio Pochettino has to navigate a pair of fixtures in four days thanks to the Europa League, and will look to avoid the first defeat to West Brom at White Hart Lane in 30 years.

  2. Watch Live: Leicester City vs. Manchester United (Lineups)

    Sep 21, 2014, 7:48 AM EDT

    Falcao Getty Images

    Radamel Falcao makes his first start for Manchester United who look to build on a strong win last weekend.

  3. Report: Manchester United target Strootman hires RVP’s agent to push move

    Sep 21, 2014, 7:25 AM EDT

    Strootman Getty Images

    Strootman has hired a man with a solid reputation to try and bring down Roma’s insane asking price.

  4. MLS Roundup: Sounders, D.C. United slip; LA gains ground in the West

    Sep 21, 2014, 1:55 AM EDT

    rodney_wallace Getty Images

    Highlights and recaps from the seven-match night in Major League Soccer.

  5. MLS Snapshot: LA Galaxy 2-1 FC Dallas

    Sep 21, 2014, 12:49 AM EDT

    MLS Sounders Galaxy Soccer AP

    Alan Gordon’s late winner moves LA even with Seattle at the top of Major League Soccer.

  6. Wenger, post-match: Focus was key as Arsenal burst past Aston Villa

    Sep 20, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT

    arsene_wenger Getty Images

    Arsenal’s manager lauded his team’s concentration in its 3-0 win at Villa Park.

  7. MLS Snapshot: New York Red Bulls 4-1 Seattle Sounders

    Sep 20, 2014, 9:27 PM EDT

    bradley_wright_phillips_tim_cahill AP

    Bradley Wright-Phillips is closing in on history after his season’s third hat trick.

  8. Premier League Sunday preview: Man City vs. Chelsea; Everton, Spurs, Man United in action

    Sep 20, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT

    Chelsea and Man City will square off early in the season. AP

    Can Chelsea stay perfect by beating Man City? Will United win again? How will Spurs, Everton do after Europa League action? Super Sunday is upon us.

  9. Premier League recap: All goals, highlights from Saturday’s action

    Sep 20, 2014, 7:52 PM EDT

    danny_welbeck AP

    Arsenal became the first to break through Aston Villa, while Sam Allardyce’s plans came to fruition in East London.

  10. MLS Snapshot: Portland Timbers 3-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

    Sep 20, 2014, 7:16 PM EDT

    diego_valeri AP

    The Timbers claim fifth in the Western Conference after another decisive win over their rivals.

  11. Watch Live: New York Red Bulls vs. Seattle Sounders (Lineups)

    Sep 20, 2014, 6:48 PM EDT

    Thierry Henry 4

    Thierry Henry will be center stage as two teams recovering from mid-week commitments meet at Red Bull Arena.

  12. Diego Valeri’s volley against Vancouver is near-perfection (video)

    Sep 20, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT

    Portland Timbers against the Seattle Sounders AP

    Portland’s brightest executed a sublime volley to give his team a first half lead.

  13. Post-match: Redknapp lauds QPR character after draw with Stoke City

    Sep 20, 2014, 5:07 PM EDT

    harry_redknapp Getty Images

    QPR manager credited Potters’ solidity while extolling the value of his team’s point.

  14. Brendan Rodgers post-match comments: “A day with too many mistakes”

    Sep 20, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 5.00.13 PM

    The Liverpool boss didn’t see enough dynamic play from his squad after a mid-week UEFA Champions League match against Ludogorets.

  15. WATCH: Celta Vigo backheel goal is an instant contender for goal of the year

    Sep 20, 2014, 4:33 PM EDT

    Club Atletico de Madrid v Real Club Celta de Vigo -La Giga Getty Images

    Former DC United player Pablo Hernandez can take as many bows as he’d like after his stunning backheel volley put one past Atletico Madrid.

  16. Watch Live: Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (Lineups)

    Sep 20, 2014, 4:23 PM EDT

    Get use to seeing more south American players heading to MLS, as Opta's office in Uruguay will help to unearth Latin American gems (see, Diego Valeri) on the cheap. AP

    NBCSNs Major League Soccer doubleheader kicks off at 5 p.m. ET in Oregon. Here are your lineups and streaming information:

  17. WATCH: AC Milan rolls out A-plus tifo before Juventus match

    Sep 20, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT

    AC Milan v Juventus FC - Serie A Getty Images

    Roughly-translated, it said, “A year of rage to be great again.” That’s good stuff, and the noisy crowd made it even better.

  18. Bundesliga wrap: Hamburg holds Bayern; Newly-promoted club atop league

    Sep 20, 2014, 3:37 PM EDT

    Germany Soccer Bundesliga AP

    There were several eyebrow raisers on Matchday 4 even before Sunday’s Rhein Derby and a big Wolfsburg match versus Bayer Leverkusen.

  19. Cameroon to host 2019 African Cup of Nations; 2021, 2023 hosts announced

    Sep 20, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    cameroon squad AP

    Cameroon will host the ACON for the second time in their history in 2019.

  20. Premier League roundup: Arsenal, Southampton win, Liverpool upset

    Sep 20, 2014, 2:57 PM EDT

    Aston Villa v Arsenal - Premier League Getty Images

    Recaps, videos, reaction and analysis from Saturday’s six games in the PL.

Featured video

Breaking down Man City vs. Chelsea