By Jimmy LaRoue
It was another epic match in the annals of U.S. soccer.
It was a heartbreaker for Canada.
Carried by Christine Sinclair’s three goals, Canada held three, one-goal leads against the U.S. women’s soccer team in the Olympic semifinal at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. The USA responded with two goals from Megan Rapinoe and a controversial penalty from Abby Wambach to tie the match.
With the match seemingly headed for penalties, Alex Morgan headed in a cross from substitute Heather O’Reilly past the outstretched hands of Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod in the third minute of second half extra time to lift the USA to a 4-3 win and a berth in the final against Japan [Video highlights].
The USA advances to its fifth straight gold medal game, setting up a rematch of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Defending World Cup champion Japan defeated France 2-1 in Monday’s other semifinal. The USA-Japan gold medal match kicks off at 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 9, at Wembley Stadium in London. The match will be televised on NBC Sports Network.
Sinclair got Canada off to a promising start with a goal in the 23rd minute after Marie-Eve Nault fed Melissa Tancredi down the left side. Tancredi fed Sinclair, who eluded a pair of USA defenders and beat goalkeeper Hope Solo to the left corner.
Rapinoe then got the first of her two goals in the 54th minute, taking a corner and curling it in through the legs of Canadian defender Lauren Sesselmann and past McLeod inside the left post to tie the match.
Tancredi also had a hand in Sinclair’s second goal in the 67th minute, sending a cross from the left side to Sinclair, who headed the ball past Solo to put Canada back in the lead.
Rapinoe again tied the match three minutes later, ripping a 17-yard shot from the right side of the box off the left post and in the net.
Sinclair, though, got her hat trick in the 73rd minute with another header over a USA defender at the left post and in the net past Solo for a 3-2 lead.
Controversy ensued on the sequence that led to the USA’s tying goal.
McLeod was cited for holding onto the ball longer than six seconds, a call rarely given by referees against goalkeepers. On the ensuing indirect free kick inside the box, Rapinoe hit it off the elbow of a Canadian defender, and the referee awarded a penalty to the USA. Wambach then stepped up and hit her penalty off the left post and in the net past McLeod to tie the match at 3-3.
The match went into extra time as both teams were fatigued as it looked like it would be decided in a penalty kick shootout. However, in the third minute of added time in the second half of extra time, O’Reilly’s cross found Morgan, who rose above a Canadian defender to head the ball in just over McLeod’s fingertips.
That put an epic end to an epic match, one of utter joy for the U.S., and utter heartbreak for Canada.
- U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report -
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Canada
Date: Aug. 6, 2012
Competition: 2012 Olympic Games; Semifinal
Venue: Old Trafford; Manchester, England
Kickoff: 7:45 p.m. local (2:45 p.m. ET)
Weather: 66 degrees, mostly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 ET1 ET2 F
USA 0 3 0 1 4
CAN 1 2 0 0 3
CAN – Christine Sinclair (Melissa Tancredi) 22nd minute
USA – Megan Rapinoe 54
CAN – Christine Sinclair (Melissa Tancredi) 67
USA – Megan Rapinoe (Kelley O’Hara) 70
CAN – Christine Sinclair (Kaylyn Kyle) 73
USA – Abby Wambach (penalty kick) 80
USA – Alex Morgan (Heather O’Reilly) 120+3
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 6-Amy LePeilbet (11-Sydney Leroux, 76), 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 16-Rachel Buehler (4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 110), 5-Kelley O’Hara; 15-Megan Rapinoe, 10-Carli Lloyd, 12-Lauren Cheney (9-Heather O’Reilly, 101), 17-Tobin Heath; 13-Alex Morgan, 14-Abby Wambach Subs not used: 2-Heather Mitts, 7-Shannon Boxx, 8-Amy Rodriguez, 18-Nicole Barnhart; Head coach: Pia Sundhage
CAN: 18-Erin McLeod; 7-Rhian Wilkinson, 4-Carmelina Moscato, 10-Lauren Sesselmann, 20-Marie-Eve Nault (3-Chelsea Stewart, 101); 8-Diana Matheson, 11-Desiree Scott, 13-Sophie Schmidt; 12-Christine Sinclair, 14-Melissa Tancredi, 16-Jonelle Filigno (6-Kaylyn Kyle, 67) Subs not used: 1-Karina LeBlanc, 2-Emily Zurrer, 5-Robyn Gayle, 9-Candace Chapman, 15-Kelly Parker, 17-Brittany Timko; Head coach: John Herdman
Statistical Summary: USA / CAN
Shots: 24 / 7
Shots on Goal: 11 / 7
Saves: 4 / 7
Corner Kicks: 13 / 5
Fouls: 20 / 22
Offside: 2 / 0
CAN – Desiree Scott (caution) 60th minute
CAN – Melissa Tancredi (caution) 79
Referee: Christina Pedersen (NOR)
Assistant Referee 1: Hege Steinlund (NOR)
Assistant Referee 2: Lada Rojc (CRO)
Fourth Official: Hong Eun Ah (KOR)