Megan Rapinoe became the first United States player to score to score two goals in one Women’s World Cup match since 2007, helping her side overcome an ugly first half to beat Australia 3–1 in their Group D opener. She also burned the ref after getting booked in the 64th minute.
Rapinoe opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a deflected shot from distance, but Australia captain Lisa De Vanna equalized in the 27th as the U.S. struggled to find any semblance of cohesion early on. Hope Solo made three match altering saves in the first 45 minutes that demonstrated why she’s allowed to continually bring the team bad press.
In the second half, the U.S. improved, taking advantage of their superior fitness levels as the Matildas tired. Christen Press put the Americans up 2–1 in the 61st minute and Rapinoe ensured the U.S would take three points and go top of the group (Sweden and Nigeria played a thrilling 3–3 draw earlier in the day) with her second goal in the 78th minute.
Coming back from an injury, Alex Morgan played the final 11 minutes as an added bonus. Most troubling for the U.S., however, was Abby Wambach, who missed two headers that she normally buries and generally did not look like her usually dominant self. Perhaps this was a result of her decision to skip the NWSL season, perhaps not.
Also troubling for the 2011 runners-up were the second-half yellow cards for Lauren Holiday and Rapinoe, putting them each a single booking away from a one-match ban.
Harsh yellow card rule in WWC means any two yellows from Game 1 to quarters will result in a 1-game ban. Tough for Holiday/Rapinoe.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) June 9, 2015
Rapinoe felt the ref was an impostor and let her know, tugging at the FIFA patch on her sleeve and laughing at her. This was better than a hat trick.
The second half was something the U.S. can build on, but the group stage probably won’t get any easier for them. Both Sweden, led by former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, and Nigeria, with BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year Asisat Oshoala, look to be formidable opponents.