Alex Morgan looks competes at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 27, 2021 in Kashima, Ibaraki, Japan.
Sometimes, a tie is as good as a win.
That was certainly the case Tuesday for the U.S. Olympic women’s soccer team, whose scoreless tie with Australia at Ibaraki Kashima Stadium earned a berth in the quarterfinals. Though both teams ended play in Group G with four points, the Americans advanced by virtue of goal differential. Australia will also move on as one of the top two third-placed teams in the tournament.
With the draw, the U.S. finished 1-1-1 in group play. After opening with a shocking 3-0 loss to a strong Sweden team, the Americans bounced back with a 6-1 victory over New Zealand. Sweden would go on to win Group G with a 3-0 record. This marked the first time the U.S. failed to win its group since 1996.
Tuesday’s match was the first scoreless tie in Olympic competition for the U.S. since its 0-0 draw with China in 1996. Most of the action in the game, played in high winds produced by tropical storm Nepartak, came in the first half of play.
In the eighth minute, Alex Morgan made a strong run, got behind the Australian defense and fired a shot on goalkeeper Teagan Micah, who made an easy save.
Ten minutes later, Australia had a scoring chance of its own, but Mary Fowler’s header was pushed off the crossbar by leaping U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.
It appeared that the U.S. had finally broken through when Morgan found the back of the net with a header off a corner kick in the 30th minute, but Morgan was ultimately ruled offside by VAR.
After the scoreless first half, the two teams settled into a much slower pace of play, seeming to accept the inevitability of a tie and the opportunity to reach the quarterfinals.
Most of the game statistics favored the Australians, who possessed the ball 61 percent of the time, opposed to 39 percent for the Americans. Australia a 5-3 edge in corner kicks. The U.S. put four shots on goal, Australia had two.
Ranked No. 1 in the world, the U.S. women are attempting to win their fifth Olympic gold medal. They will meet No. 4 Netherlands in the quarterfinals, set for July 30 in Yokohama. The Dutch topped Group F with a 2-1-0 record.
Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020? Visit TeamUSA.org/Tokyo2020 to view the medal table, results and competition schedule.