For those who were convinced all the excitement in soccer this Olympics would be in the Men’s side, the soccer gods have spoken. The USA Women’s National Team have prevailed against neighboring Canada after a goal in the final minutes of an exhilarating match, and advance to face Japan in the gold medal match this Thursday, August 9th from Wembley Stadium in the heart of London.
The matchups for Thursday’s game will not be overlooked, but first let’s recap the incredible come-from-behind win of the USWNT. Canada relied heavily on their captain Christine Sinclair, who netted a hat trick (the first in 11 years vs. the USWNT), but still fell to the USA women’s team in the final minute of extra time at Old Trafford.
Sinclair scored first for Canada (22′) on a brilliant move around the US defense, and Canada maintained the lead through the first half. Megan Rapinoe netted an equalizer in the 54th minute on a clean corner to the near post. And less than 15 minutes later, would each team fire off two more goals each, in only 13 minutes of play. Sinclair secured Canada another lead with a goal in the 67th, a gorgeous looping header to the very corner, Hope Solo had little chance to stop it. Rapinoe answered back with her second goal in the 70th, a laser strike to the far post from the edge of the box.
For those who were convinced all the excitement in soccer this Olympics would be in the Men’s side, the soccer gods have spoken.
Sinclair headed another cross to the top corner, almost deja vu like her second goal. Her hat trick seemed to have given Canada the momentum to pull out the victory but it was a hand ball in the box on a free kick that enabled Abby Wambach to net the equalizing penalty and edge closer to the leading USA women’s goalscoring legend Mia Hamm.
The real excitement came not only in extra time, but in injury time of extra time, when the young Alex Morgan looped a header on a cross from Heather O’Reilly. The goal left the Canadian team shocked after what would have granted them a ticket to the gold medal match on nearly any other occasion. Check out the complete highlights of all goals from NBC: click here to watch.
The goal left the Canadian team shocked after what would have granted them a ticket to the gold medal match on nearly any other occasion.
Now, what awaits the USA is a chance for redemption from their defeat against Japan in last year’s Women’s World Cup Final. The match on Thursday will feature nearly identical lineups from the World Cup Final match in Frankfurt. Flaws in the defense that enabled Christine Sinclair to net three unstoppable goals will need to be corrected before facing a strong Japanese team that relied on their star midfielder and 2011 Ballon d’Or recipient Homare Sawa in the 2011 World Cup Final.
In a lot of ways this coming match reminds me of the 2011 World Cup Final. Leading up to that match, Abby Wambach scored the equalizing header in the 122nd minute to allow the USWNT to advance past Brazil on PKs. Last time these ladies faced Japan, it was their non-traditional quickness on counters, utilizing their small size and quickness to their advantage. We hope this time around, the USA ladies have learned how to defeat the clever Japanese side.