The US has done it again!!!! USA’s women’s soccer put a fifth win under their belt, beating Canada 4-3 in the semifinal match of the olympics! Yep, that means they are playing for GOLD on Thursday against Japan! It will be a game of redemption for the United States since they lost the 2011 World Cup to Japan on penalty kicks. It will be a final worth watching! Here is a full schedule of both men’s and women’s soccer games: Olympic Soccer Event Schedule.
Today’s match was bound to be one of epic proportions. The US and Canada have played each other 50 plus times over the years, Canada unable to beat the US since 2001. This was sure to be a closely and evenly matched game betwee long time rivals. Whistles blew and the game started. The first 90 seconds of play set the tempo of the whole game. Two fouls and free kicks were called. The US kept the play on the Canadian side of the field, but in the 22nd minute, Christine Sinclair dribbled past a couple defenders and put the ball past Hope Solo into the US net. This was the first time the US found themselves behind since their Olympic match against France. The look on Hope Solo’s face was of calm anger over letting a goal slip through her fingers. That goal ended her 368 minute Olympic shutout streak. More fiece play ensued, the US having opportunity after opportunity, but unable to follow through to finish with a goal. At the end of the first half, Canada had a slender advantage while the US trailing by one goal.
Second half started and the heated play continued. Then in the 54th minute of play, Megan Rampinoe curved the ball on a shot, there was a scramble of players to protect the goal, it bounced off them and went into the Canadian net! The US had leveled the playing field! 1-1. More back and forth play across the field, the US dominating possession but in the 67th minute, Canadian goal scorer Sinclair had a break away, made a wide shot, hit the post and it went in behind Hope Solo who dove to try to reach it. The US would have to do it again to catch up! Only a few minutes later in the 70th minute of play, Megan Rampinoe scored again! It was now Sinclair vs Rampinoe as the only goal scorers of the game, bringing the match to an even 2-2. Hungry to stay ahead, Sinclair scored a THIRD time against Hope Solo! You could see the intensity on her face, determined to help her team win the game. Sinclair just finished a hat trick.
It seemed like the US was just always slightly behind, but they got the chance they desparately needed to tie the game. Two pivotal plays led to that moment: First, the referee called the Canadian goalie out for ‘holding the ball too long’ allowing the US to have a direct free kick inside the penalty area. Second, after that direct kick was made, the ball hit the arm of one Canadian player and the hand of another, so the referee called for a penalty kick. Abby Wambach was poised to take the kick, would she be the one to bring the US back into the game? Yes! A nice clean shot into the left corner pocket! The US was back in this AGAIN! Three minutes of stoppage time was added to regulation game play. No change in score.
Time to head into two 15 minute over time periods to determine the fate of the game. However, if in that allotted time a winner wasn’t determined, the game would be decided by penalty kicks, something olympics womens soccer had never needed. In an unbelieveable 30 seconds left remaining in the half hour of extra time, Alex Morgan scored the winning goal against Canada! Alex Morgan had not scored a goal since the opening match against France, but her goal prevented the game from ending in penalty kicks. The US is moving on to the final match against Japan and guarenteed to walk away with a medal in the London 2012 olympics!!! At the closing of the game, there was a huge contrast of emotions: the US team was euphoric while the Canadians were utterly devastated. It was a remarkable game for scocer and lived up to the expectation that it would be a game of epic proportions.
Official Olympic Statistics:
Posession: USA 54% vs Canada 46%
Shots: USA 18 vs Canada 9
Shots on goal: USA 7 vs Canada 7
Highlights of the game (screenshots from NBC live feed)
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