The U.S. Women’s National Team rebounded from a lackluster first half to strike three times after the break — two on remarkably similar finishes from Alex Morgan and a stoppage-time goal from Sydney Leroux — en route to a 3-0 victory against Canada in front of a sold-out crowd of 22,453 fans at BMO Field, the largest ever to watch these two teams play at the senior level in Canada.
Booed throughout the match by Canadian fans who consider her a turncoat, the British Columbia-born Leroux — who began her international career with Big Red — prompted even more hatred from the home supporters after she scored, as she brandished the U.S. badge on her chest and put her finger to lips in a shushing gesture.
That was the flashpoint of an otherwise disappointing occasion compared to the border rivals’ last meeting, the epic semifinal of the 2012 Olympics, a match the USA won 4-3 on a goal from Morgan in the third minute of stoppage time of the second overtime period. Her 123rd minute score was the latest goal ever scored in FIFA history.
After neither team could generate much offense in the first half on a windy day along Lake Ontario, the USA found the net three times in the final 23 minutes.
The USA’s second half, which was played with the wind at their backs, was much stronger than the first and it seemed a goal was coming after Morgan’s breakaway in the 53rd minute was thwarted by a last-second tackle and Wambach’s diving header off a corner kick in the 55th was cleared off the line by Kadeisha Buchanan.
Canada played a five-woman back line that made it difficult for the Americans to find space in the attacking third, but in the 70th minute Wambach finally unlocked the defense with a perfectly slipped pass to Morgan, who was streaking into the left side of the penalty area. Morgan powered through Canadian defender Emily Zurrer and drove her shot low from a steep angle across the goal and just inside the left post from 15 yards out.
Less than three minutes later, Morgan hit almost exactly the same piece of net, this time off an excellent pass from Tobin Heath, who lofted her serve from the center of the field, setting Morgan free behind the defense. Morgan shot from perhaps an even sharper angle this time, and the ball scooted just inside the left post once again to make it 2-0.
The USA outshot Canada 13-2 and did not allow a shot on goal, but the Canadians pushed hard for a score until Leroux put a capper on the afternoon with a goal in the third minute of stoppage time.
Leroux, who was born in Vancouver, B.C., to a Canadian mother and American father, played for Canada at the youth level before switching affiliation to the USA in 2008. When she entered the match in the 74th minute, boos rained down on the field, as they did every time she touched the ball during the game.
She provided a signature moment in her career when Wambach sprung her behind the defense with seconds left in the game. Leroux accelerated away from a defender, got Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod to commit, then rounded her to the left and stuffed the ball into the open net from close range. It was her 17th international goal, 16 of which have come off the bench.
Leroux received a yellow card for her emotional celebration in front of the enthusiastic Canadian supporters section.
Canada did not register a shot on goal in the match as Nicole Barnhart earned the shutout in goal for the USA, extending their unbeaten streak to 32 games.
The U.S. Women’s National Team will reconvene on June 10 as the squad heads into preparation for a pair of friendly matches against the Korea Republic on June 15 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. (7 p.m. ET, broadcast on ESPN3) and on June 20 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. (7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network).
– U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report –
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Canada
Date: June 2, 2013
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: BMO Field; Toronto, Canada
Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. ET
Attendance: 22,453 (sell-out)
Weather: 70 degrees, cloudy, light rain
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 3 3
CAN 0 0 0
USA – Alex Morgan (Abby Wambach) 70th minute
USA – Alex Morgan (Tobin Heath) 72
USA – Sydney Leroux (Abby Wambach) 90+3
USA : 18-Nicole Barnhart; 11-Ali Krieger, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 14-Whitney Engen, 6-Crystal Dunn (8-Kristie Mewis, 63); 9-Heather O’Reilly, 10-Carli Lloyd, 12-Lauren Cheney, 17-Tobin Heath (2-Sydney Leroux, 74); 13-Alex Morgan (23-Christen Press, 83), 20-Abby Wambach
Substitutions Not Used: 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 5-Kelley O’Hara, 19-Rachel Buehler, 21-Jill Loyden
Head coach: Tom Sermanni
CAN: 1-Erin McLeod; 9-Kadeisha Buchanan, 4-Carmelina Moscato, 16-Lauren Sesselmann, 7-Rhian Wilkinson, 2-Emily Zurrer (3-Danica Wu, 78), 8-Diana Matheson, 13-Sophie Schmidt (6-Kaylyn Kyle, 68), 11-Desiree Scott, 12-Christine Sinclair (capt.), 14-Melissa Tancredi (15-Tiffany Cameron, 61)
Substitutions Not Used: 5-Robyn Gayle, 10-Christina Julien, 17-Ashley Lawrence, 19-Kylla Sjoman, 33-Karina LeBlanc
Head coach: John Herdman
Stats Summary: USA / CAN
Shots: 2 / 13
Shots on Goal: 0 / 7
Saves: 0 / 4
Corner Kicks: 9 / 3
Fouls: 10 / 12
Offside: 2 / 4
USA – Sydney Leroux (caution) 90 + 3
Referee: Quetzalli Alvarado (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Lixy Enriquez (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Enedina Caudillo (MEX)
Fourth Official: Sheena Dickson (CAN)
Woman of the Match: Whitney Engen