Carli Lloyd has a lot to celebrate about with her many goals for the U.S. national team. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
By Michael Lewis
With this being the Fourth of July and America’s 243rd birthday, we figured we would celebrate in our own unique way:
By listing the most important goals in U.S. women’s and men’s history.
In this story, we’ll take a look at the women in their countless national team victories:
- Michelle Akers (1991)
She started off the American women’s championship tradition by netting a goal — her second of the match — that snapped a 1-1 deadlock with then hated-rival Norway in the very first final of the Women’s World Cup in Guanzhou, China Nov. 30, 1991. Akers, who defined two positions — first as a striker and then as a defensive midfielder — Akers intercepted a back pass from Norway’s Tina Svensson and ran in on goalkeeper Reidun Seth in the 87th minute to seal a 2-1 win. “Everyone on the team said their hearts were stopping, because they didn’t think I would ever shoot the ball,” Akers said at the time. “I was making sure I wouldn’t miss.”
2. Carli Lloyd (2015)
What audacity! With the U.S. holding a 3-0 lead in the 16th minute of the 2015 WWC final, Lloyd put an exclamation point on her magnificent performance when she chipped goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori from 55 yards at B.C. Place in Vancouver. It was her third goal of the match in only 13 minutes in what turned into a 5-2 victory over Japan, the Americans’ first world championship in 16 years. It also was the first hat-trick in a WWC final and only second overall, after Geoff Hurst’s three goals in England’s win over Germany in 1966. “I felt like I was in a dream sitting there on the bench watching Carli Lloyd go off,” said veteran striker Abby Wambach. “I have dedicated my life to all this,” Lloyd said. “Everything comes second. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
3. Brandi Chastain (1999)
Yeah, everyone knows about Chastain converting the U.S.’s final penalty kick in the WWC championship game to lift the hosts to a shootout win over China. But it was a score in the quarterfinals that helped Chastain atone for a blunder in a 3-2 comeback victory. In fact, it was the worst of all possible scenarios as Chastain kicked the ball into her net in the fifth minute to give Germany a 1-0 lead. She made up for the error by heading home the equalizer off a Mia Hamm corner kick in the 49th minute after a Tiffeny Milbrett goal in Landover, Md. in one of the best women’s games ever played. “Thank God I was in the right spot,” Chastain said.
4. Abby Wambach (2011)
Trailing 2-1 to Brazil in stoppage time during extratime in the WWC quarterfinal, Wambach pulled off a miracle goal. Megan Rapinoe sent a volley to Wambach, who headed it home to give the U.S. a lifeline and a tie. The U.S., which played a woman down since the 66th minute, went on to survive a 5-3 penalty-kick shootout that July 10. “To be honest, I literally can’t believe that just happened,” Wambach said. “The last three hours of my life have been by far some of the most emotionally up and down moments I’ve ever experienced.”
5. Alex Morgan (2010)
Heaven forbid if the U.S. missed qualifying for a Women’s World Cup. After failing to book a spot through CONCACAF, the Americans were forced to play Italy in a home-and-home playoff. Morgan had all of three international goals in six appearances when she entered the match for Amy Rodriguez in the 85th minute in the first leg in Padova, Italy that Nov. 20. In the fourth minute of five minutes of stoppage time, the 21-year-old Morgan latched onto a Carli Lloyd feed and scored to give the Americans a vital 1-0 win. A week later, the U.S. secured a spot in Germany with a 2-0 victory in Bridgeview, Ill.
6. Alex Morgan (2012)
Three times Canada took the lead on Christine Sinclair goals against the U.S. in the 2012 Olympic semifinals and three times the Americans came back. They finally found themselves ahead as Morgan headed in second-half sub Heather O’Reilly’s cross in the third minute of stoppage time for a 4-3 victory. “I’m still in shock thinking of what just happened,” Morgan said. “It was a crazy battle. It was amazing.”
7. Megan Rapinoe (2012)
Just how many players can say they scored an Olimpico goal in an Olympic game? Well, Rapinoe did as she lofted a corner kick from the left side past goalkeeper Erin McLeod to boost the U.S. into a 1-1 deadlock with the Canadians in that semifinal confrontation in Manchester, England. Rapinoe added a second goal later in the match.
8. Tiffeny Milbrett (2000)
With the U.S. trailing Norway, 2-1, in stoppage time of the Olympic gold medal match in Sydney, Australia, the diminutive forward who might have been the smallest player on the field at 5-2, headed home from seven yards Mia Hamm’s right-wing cross — her second goal of the match — to push the match into extratime. “That was probably one of my finest goals ever,” Milbrett said. “And just as far as importance. I never score a goal like that because I’m 5-2.” The U.S. went down to defeat, 3-2, in one of the greatest women’s games ever played.
9. Carli Lloyd (2008, 2012)
We’re going to cheat and put two Lloyd goals together because, well, they belong together. She is the only person on this planet to score the game-winning goal in back-to-back Olympic gold medal matches, a 1-0 result in Beijing in 2008 and a 2-1 triumph in London four years later. Both games met something for Lloyd, who was a bust at the 2007 WWC in China before changing her training habits to become a dominating force on the field. She was relegated to the bench at the start of the 2012 Summer Games, but Lloyd had other ideas and worked her way back into the Starting XI. “I was on a mission this Olympics to prove everybody wrong and that’s what I did,” Lloyd said. “I knew I had a big job. Had to seize the moment. I worked hard and when someone tells me I’m not good enough to start I’m going to prove them wrong. I was probably the most consistent player all tournament.” Lloyd, who finished with four goals, even received a public apology from U.S. coach Pia Sundhage. “She has proven that I was wrong before the Olympics,” she said. “I am happy she was more clever than I was.”
10. Mia Hamm (1998)
Hamm retired with 158 international goals and many were classics, but here’s one brilliant score at the Goodwill Games. After recording a hat-trick in a 5-0 drubbing of Denmark in the semifinals two days prior, Hamm tallied twice in the 2-0 triumph over China in the final before 11,307 at the Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. Hamm lifted the USA into the lead with a 16-yard shot in the 66th minute before finishing the game off with a 35-yard effort from the left side over goalkeeper Zhao Yan. “Mia turned in a Michael Jordan-like performance tonight,” U.S. head coach Tony DiCicco said. “In fact, I think China took the game over and had more quality chances than we did, but then Mia scored that brilliant goal.”