USA Beats Canada in Final Moments
The US Women’s team did it again. Last year, it was a quarterfinal matchup in the World Cup against Brazil that went to the 123′ minute before Abby Wambach scored on a header to send the game to penalty kicks, which the US eventually won. Today, in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics, another last minute goal, this time courtesy of Alex Morgan, won the game for the US and put the team in the finals. After beating Canada 4-3, the US will play for Gold on Thursday against Japan (the team they lost to in 2011 on penalty kicks).
“This team doesn’t give up. This is what we’re about. This is what we’ve been working for since the day we lost to Japan in the World Cup final. We know that it’s not going to be easy. We didn’t anticipate a game like this, but we’re willing to deal with whatever is thrown at us. I’m so thankful that people kept believing in us, that we kept believing in ourselves. We stuck with it until the end.” — Abby Wambach
For most of the first half, momentum was with Canada. The USA failed to register a single shot on target in the opening half, and Canada had the only goal of the first half (22′ minute). Before the match, Abby Wambach called Christine Sinclair the most underrated player in the world, and the Canadian captain ended up with a hat-trick. Unfortunately for the Canadians, her three goals weren’t enough to stop the Americans from coming back time after time.
The second half started and the back & forth continued. In the 54th minute, Megan Rapinoe (USA) tied up the game 1-1 after the ball curved towards goal and bounced off some scrambling defenders. The U.S. had tied it up.
The U.S. controlled the ball most of the second half, but Sinclair (Canada) had a break away in the 67th minute and put her team up 2-1 as Hope Solo missed the block. Again, the U.S. found themselves down a goal.
…But not for long! In the 70th minute, Megan Rapinoe (USA) scored again. So far, it had been Sinclair vs Rapinoe and the two were tied 2-2. Sometimes a player is firing on all cylinders and you can’t hope to stop them, but only contain them. The US did neither to Sinclair as she scored her 3rd goal in the 73′ minute on a header from a perfectly placed corner.
With 10 minutes left in regulation, the US tied it up on Wambach’s penalty kick. There’s some controversy about the wholesituation. Referee Christiana Pedersen’s awarded the penalty after Rapinoe took her indirect free kick: the ball struck defender Marie-Eve Nault (who was actually trying to get out of the way) and the referee called her for a hand ball. Wambach took the penalty, and confidently put it in along the grass. The Americans might want to thank the referee for that one because it’s definitely something that won’t be called every time and is open to judgement. But, hey, a ref’s decisions are part of a game and you have to keep going, no matter what.
Fun Fact: U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo went into the game with a 346-minute scoreless streak. Sinclair obviously ended that early in the game, and cemented herself as one of the great scorers of all-time.
In overtime, the American side dominated the ball, but neither team put themselves in the right situations to get shots on goal. Finally, in the 122′ minute, Alex Morgan, who had not scored a goal since the opening match against France, came to the rescue and knocked in a cross to guarantee Team USA’s trip to the gold medal match.
Shots: USA 18 vs Canada 9
Shots on goal: USA 7 vs Canada 7