London 2012 Women's Olympic Soccer Final: U.S. Beats Japan 2-1 To Win Gold : The Torch The U.S. women's soccer team has won their third consecutive gold medal in the Olympics. They defeated Japan at London's Wembley Stadium, in a game that set a new attendance record of more than 80,000 spectators.

Women's Olympic Soccer Final: U.S. Beats Japan 2-1, To Win Gold

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.


And I'm Melissa Block. In this hour of the program, we begin with the Olympics, and first, the outcome of the much-anticipated rematch between the U.S. and Japan in women's soccer. In last year's World Cup final, Japan beat the U.S. and broke the team's heart. Well, tonight, before a record-setting 80,000 people at London's Wembley Stadium, the U.S. triumphed, winning 2-1. NPR's Howard Berkes was at the stadium for the game, and he joins us now. And, Howard, this was a game that the U.S. team talked about as a chance for redemption against Japan, and it was a thriller. What were the keys, do you think, behind the U.S. victory?

HOWARD BERKES, BYLINE: Well, this was a very exciting match, and you had two really key players making it happened. Carli Lloyd scored two goals for the United States, and Hope Solo who blocked I don't know how many I've lost count of how many blocks she successfully engineered and maneuvered...

BLOCK: The goalkeeper, yeah, Hope Solo.

BERKES: ...blocks - the goalkeeper. This was a game in which both Japan and the United States were in each other's territory a lot throughout the game. There were a lot of shots on goal, and it took both goalkeepers an enormous amount of skill to keep that ball from going in the net. And, you know, it only went in three times: two for the United States, one for Japan.

BLOCK: And a clean game too, Howard, a real contrast with the very physical semifinal match that the U.S. played this week against Canada.

BERKES: No. And this is exactly what Abby Wambach, from the United States, predicted before the game. These are two teams that respect each other, that know each other well. They're friends. They hugged each other before the game. They hugged each other after the game. They hugged each other at the pregame news conference yesterday, and they talked about the respect they have for each other, and they said it would not be the kind of wild rough game that there was with Canada. Still, there were some major penalties, but still, overall, it was a pretty clean game, a game between two teams that respect each other.

BLOCK: Interesting, Howard, the U.S. women have now won gold in all the Olympics, except for one since 1996. This year, though, the men's U.S. team didn't even qualify for the Olympics.

BERKES: No, no. The men's team, you know, the women have really been the hope of soccer in the United States. They've really been the focus of the attention because they've been so consistent over the years. This is their third gold medal in a row, fourth overall. They have dominated the Olympic tournament. They've been very strong in the World Cup as well.

BLOCK: And a raucous crowd, an Olympic record for a women's soccer match there at Wembley Stadium. It must have been quite a night. Howard, thanks so much.

BERKES: You're welcome.

BLOCK: That's NPR's Howard Berkes talking about the gold-medal game in women's soccer tonight. The U.S. beat Japan 2-1.

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