Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Americans Rally in Opener; U.S. 4, France 2; Morgan Scores Twice after a Disjointed Start; LONDON OLYMPICS

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Americans Rally in Opener; U.S. 4, France 2; Morgan Scores Twice after a Disjointed Start; LONDON OLYMPICS

Article excerpt

LONDON - Falling behind by two goals after just 14 minutes wasn't exactly the script Alex Morgan had written for her Olympic soccer debut. But it's the one she found herself acting out Wednesday

"Once I stepped on that field and the whistle blew, I was considered an Olympian. That was an amazing feeling for me," Morgan said. "And then we were hit with two goals. It was a quick turnaround."

So Morgan, 23, the youngest U.S. player on the field, turned to Abby Wambach, the second-oldest, and came up with a plan.

"Me and Abby looked at each other and we were like 'All right, a goal each,'" said Morgan, who went that one better, scoring a goal in each half to lead the U.S. to a 4-2 victory over France on the first day of group play in the London Games.

Wambach also had a first-half goal, and Carli Lloyd came off the bench to get the go-ahead score for the U.S. just after halftime. Both of those goals, as well as one of Morgan's, were set up by midfielder Megan Rapinoe, who joked afterward that the early deficit simply served to make the game more exciting.

"There's a lot of other sports going on," she said. "So we have to catch the attention early."

Still, falling behind early then rallying late has become a well- worn game plan for the U.S. women, who needed a goal in overtime stoppage play to get past Brazil in the quarterfinals of last summer's World Cup. And four years ago, in the opener of the Beijing Olympics, the U.S. gave up two goals to Norway in the first four minutes.

But the Americans trailed for just 25 minutes, combined, over their next five games en route to their second consecutive gold medal.

"After 2-0, I thought about China," U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said of the last Olympic team. "We've been here before and we came back."

Largely because it has Morgan, who was a sophomore at California during the last Olympics. This year she's come into her own, though, scoring a team-high 19 goals in 16 games.

"She's proven that she's not only fast, she's strong. And she has balance," Sundhage said. …

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