Once again, the United States has an early lead in the Women's World Cup knockout round. On Sunday, facing Brazil in the quarterfinals, the American side scored in the second minute, a lead that held until midway through the second half. Today, it was the ninth minute as Heather O'Reilly sent a beautiful ball into the box where it met the foot of Lauren Cheney for the goal. For the USA, it's been a nearly-perfect start, and the early goal gives the American side a bit of a cushion to work with.
The action has been back and forth in the early minutes, with France threatening in the US half, but coming away empty handed. The first real chance was handled nicely by Hope Solo, who tipped a rocket shot over the crossbar and out for a corner. Solo is dealing with a hamstring injury, but has looked fine thus far, moving around at her typical pace in net for the United States.
For an American team coming off an emotional win, and the high of beating Brazil on Sunday, the early goal could not have been better. The nerves are settled, a lead has been built and all the USA has to do is protect for the next 80 minutes. Nothing to it, of course.
In the 14th minute, the USA leads France in the Women's World Cup semifinals, 1-0.
For more on the tournament, be sure to visit SB Nation Soccer's 2011 Women's World Cup StoryStream. Stay with this StoryStream for more on Hope Solo and the United States Womens National Team.