Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, USWNT Beat Australia to Win Bronze Medal at 2021 Olympics

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 5, 2021

USA's forward Megan Rapinoe (C) is congratulated by teammate forward Carli Lloyd after scoring, as Australia's defender Clare Polkinghorne (R) reacts, during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women's bronze medal football match between Australia and the United States at Ibaraki Kashima Stadium in Kashima city, Ibaraki prefecture on August 5, 2021. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP) (Photo by TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images)
TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images

Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd scored two goals apiece as the United States women's soccer team scored a wild 4-3 win over Australia in the bronze-medal match at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.

The U.S. raced out to a 4-1 lead at Kashima Soccer Stadium in Japan, but the Aussies nearly mounted a comeback with a pair of second-half goals, including one by Emily Gielnik in the 90th minute. The Americans were able to hold off the late rally to secure bronze.

It marks a return to the Olympic podium for the USWNT, which was eliminated by Sweden in the quarterfinals at the 2016 Rio Games.

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

HISTORY MADE! <br><br>ICYMI, Carli Lloyd becomes <a href="https://twitter.com/USWNT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USWNT</a>'s leading scorer in Olympic history with 10 goals. <a href="https://twitter.com/TeamUSA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TeamUSA</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a> // <a href="https://twitter.com/OnHerTurf?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@OnHerTurf</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/OlympicHERstory?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#OlympicHERstory</a> <a href="https://t.co/bqNRK3wKHr">pic.twitter.com/bqNRK3wKHr</a>

The match featured three goals within the first 21 minutes as Rapinoe tallied a brace for the U.S. sandwiched around a tally for Australian legend Sam Kerr.

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

WATCH. THIS. GOAL.<br><br>An unbelievable corner by Megan Rapinoe! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/USWNT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USWNT</a> <br><br>Stream: <a href="https://t.co/FmEtvutDRA">https://t.co/FmEtvutDRA</a> <a href="https://t.co/jvod0GDyAB">pic.twitter.com/jvod0GDyAB</a>

Lloyd scored just before the halftime whistle and added her second just six minutes after the break as it appeared the Americans were heading toward a blowout win.

The Matildas' Caitlin Foord cut the deficit to 4-2 in the 54th minute, though, and Gielnik got them back within one late on, but they couldn't find a stoppage-time equalizer to force extra time.

It was an impressive performance for the USWNT attack, which was struck in neutral for much of the Olympic tournament, including in a 1-0 loss to rival Canada in the semifinals. The U.S. racked up 18 shots, including nine on target, in the win.

Alex Morgan @alexmorgan13

Coming home with that fresh Bronze and couldn't be more proud of this team! Battling until the end it's been 40 days on the road and ending on a high makes it all worth it!! <a href="https://t.co/GV55i264Ie">https://t.co/GV55i264Ie</a>

While the Americans celebrate their podium finish, the conversation will soon shift to whether the roster could see a significant overhaul before the next major tournaments, the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup and the 2024 Summer Olympics.

The core that led the USWNT to the last two World Cup titles, a group that includes Lloyd, Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Christen Press, Julie Ertz, Becky Sauerbrunn and Kelley O'Hara, already faced uncertainty before Tokyo about whether a youth movement was on the horizon.

Although those inquires grew louder throughout an often lackluster showing in Tokyo, the performance in the bronze-medal match showed what the current group remains capable of when clicking on all cylinders.

Expect to see more rising stars, including Mia Fishel, Ashley Sanchez and Naomi Girma, in friendlies and smaller tournaments over the next few years, but for now it appears the squad's longtime veterans will continue to fight for their spots on the national team in pursuit of a third straight World Cup championship.

Meanwhile, the women's Olympic soccer tournament wraps up Friday as Sweden battles Canada in the gold-medal match.