YOKOHAMA, Japan — No early exit this time. Just as they did in 2016, the U.S. women needed penalty kicks in their quarterfinal matchup. But unlike in Rio, when the Americans lost to Sweden, Alyssa Naeher made two monster saves to beat the Netherlands. She stopped Vivianne Miedema, who scored both of the Netherlands’ goals, on the first shot, and Aniek Nouwen on the fourth. Rose Lavelle, Alex Morgan, Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe all made theirs to give the Americans the win. They will play Canada in Monday’s semifinals. The USWNT’s loss to Sweden on PKs in 2016 was the first time they had failed to win a medal at a major tournament. They have won their second consecutive World Cup since then – beating the Dutch in 2019 – but that loss in Rio has left a sour taste in their mouths for five years. NEVER MISS A MEDAL: Sign up for our Olympic newsletter now WANT BEHIND-THE-SCENES ACCESS IN TOKYO? Sign up for Olympic texts to get exclusive access to the Games
It finally paid off. And then some.
In the 28th, Williams juked a defender just outside the box and spotted Mewis, her Carolina Courage teammate, rushing forward. She placed the ball perfectly, and Mewis connected on a diving header that Sari Van Veenendaal had no chance to stop, tying the game at 1-1.
Three minutes later, following a Tobin Heath corner kick, Williams headed the ball to Mewis, who headed it back to her. Williams got the ball on the inside of her right foot and knocked it in for the go-ahead goal.
The goal and assist were particularly sweet for Williams, who missed out on the 2019 World Cup team and was initially named an alternate for Tokyo until the International Olympic Committee and FIFA agreed to expand the rosters because of COVID.