NEWCASTLE, England - Alex Morgan never wrote a check her neon green shoes couldn't cash.
Before a U.S. women's soccer quarterfinal vs. New Zealand, she was willing to peek ahead to a potential semifinal vs. Great Britain, describing the significance of the possible match. Morgan backed it up with a volley that met Abby Wambach's right foot in the 27th minute and helped send the Americans to an Olympic Final Four with a 2-0 victory.
Morgan's assist was the team-leading 11th in 2012 for a 23-year-old striker with a reputation for goal scoring. Wambach's goal was her team-leading fourth in this tournament and 142nd in international play, putting her 16 behind Mia Hamm on the U.S. all-time list.
U.S. reserve striker Sydney Leroux added an insurance goal in the 86th minute, beating New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon from outside the left post.
The Americans will play the winner of the Great Britain vs. Canada quarterfinal, to be played Friday night in Coventry, England. That winner will meet the U.S. at the Old Trafford in Manchester, England on Monday.
Against New Zealand, the U.S. saw more offensive challenges than they had in the previous two games combined. In group play shutouts vs. Colombia and North Korea, U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo made just one save. On Friday, New Zealand put three shots on goal in the first half alone.
The second half saw a nasty collision in which New Zealand's Bindon stepped in front of a streaking Morgan and took a hard knee to the head from the U.S. forward. Bindon and Morgan would return to the game, but Morgan left minutes later in the 80th with no apparent ailment.
The United States has now won nine consecutive meetings with New Zealand, with their last loss in the series dating back to the 1980's. They last defeated the Football Ferns in a February exhibition in which Morgan scored two last-minute goals for a come-from-behind 2-1 victory.
In the Friday quarterfinal prior to the U.S. game, France edged Sweden 2-1 in Glasgow, Scotland. The French were groupmates of the U.S. last week, losing 4-2 in the first of four consecutive American victories in these Olympics.