Comeback victory in opener bolsters U.S.

  • Article by: JOSEPH WHITE , Associated Press
  • Updated: July 26, 2012 - 9:14 PM

 The win over France, its toughest group opponent, puts the U.S. in good position for a run in the tournament.

Megan Rapinoe celebrated Alex Morgan’s (13) second goal of the game during the 66th minute against France on Wednesday.

Photo: Karl Mondon, McClatchy News Service

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GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - Shannon Boxx nursed her ailing hamstring. Abby Wambach put her sore legs in a blue contraption that looked like something made from spare NASA parts. The whole team went to see a shocker -- the Japanese men beating Spain at Hampden Park -- then ate Italian food for dinner while discussing how they'll watch the Opening Ceremony.

All is not perfect with the U.S. women's Olympic soccer team, but life is generally good now that the Americans are firmly in charge of their group after a come-from-behind opening victory over France.

"Luckily enough for us, we were extremely composed," midfielder Tobin Heath said Thursday as she relaxed in the lobby of the security-laden team hotel a short walk from the River Clyde. "We have such a belief in this team that we can really come back from the impossible."

Overcoming an early 2-0 deficit to win 4-2 wasn't exactly achieving the impossible, but it was a strong finish to a game that raised some early alarm bells. Assistant coach Tony Gustafsson spent halftime telling the defenders to stop giving the French so much space, a trend that can't continue if the Americans are to win a third consecutive gold medal.

But coach Pia Sundhage has taught her players to put a positive spin on just about everything.

With their toughest group opponent out of the way, the top-ranked Americans are poised to finish atop their quartet of teams and get a favorable seed entering the quarterfinals. They next play Colombia on Saturday in Glasgow.

The less-than-cheerful news was about Boxx, who had to leave the first half of Wednesday's game because of a hamstring injury. Sundhage said Boxx was to meet with the trainers to figure out a rehab plan to see if she can recover in time for Saturday's game.

Most national teams would find it a severe blow to lose a solid veteran midfielder such as Boxx, but the Americans have an incredible array of replacement parts on the bench. It speaks volumes that the substitute for Boxx was Carli Lloyd, a longtime starter who is adjusting to a new role as a substitute.

"We do know how deep this team is, and how our 18th player could be starting on any other national team," Heath said. "We don't take a negative approach on that; we take a positive approach. As Pia says, there's game-winners on the bench -- as Carli showed."

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