Olympics Spoiler: U.S.-Canada
Women's soccer semifinal: Hope you DVR'd it
By Nick Barbaro, 4:28PM, Mon. Aug. 6, 2012
I missed the first half of today's Olympics semifinal between the USA and Canada, but what I did catch was one of the most amazing halves of soccer I've ever seen, and more. If by chance you recorded it this afternoon to watch later: good choice. Enjoy. Read no further.
That was incredible! That second half had everything: a hat trick by Canada's Christine Sinclair; the U.S. coming from behind three times; two astounding long-range goals by Megan Rapinoe, including one directly on a corner kick; a bizarre referee's call leading to a U.S. penalty kick; a tactical gamble paying off; Abby Wambach extending her scoring streak ...
And in the end, for the second major tournament in a row, the U.S. Women scored the latest goal ever scored in such a tournament – in the third and last minute of the second overtime – to survive the semifinal, and move on to the championship game – coming up this Thursday, Aug. 9, at 1:30pm Central time on NBCSN. Forewarned is forearmed.
The first half ended with Canada up 1-0, on a beautiful turn and shot by Sinclair; but the U.S. came out swarming after halftime, owning all the possession, and earning corner kick after corner kick until one of them, a beautiful spinning ball by Rapinoe, spun right into the bottom near corner of the goal, before the shielded Canadian defenders could deal with it. It looked at that point like just a matter of time before Canada would break, but instead, with the U.S. pushed all the way forward, a Canadian counterattack, a lovely cross, and Sinclair's header, put Canada back up, 2-1.
Rapinoe's rocket from 35 yards into the opposite corner of the goal was answered by another stunning Sinclair header, which set up the game's strangest sequence: Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod – who'd been time-wasting all night – was finally penalized for it, not with the customary yellow card, but with the rarely-seen call of an indirect free kick inside the penalty box. When the resulting shot hit a defender's arm, the referee pointed to the penalty spot, drawing more howls from the Canadians. Abby Wambach's cool conversion gave her a goal in each of the five games, and sent the game into overtime, where the U.S. continued to dominate possession, Canada continued to look dangerous on counters, and only a last-gasp, looping header by the Baby Horse, Alex Morgan, broke the exhausted Canadians' hearts, and saved the Americans from having to depend on a nervy PK shootout to decide it. You may recall that the last one, in last year's World Cup final against Japan, didn't turn out so well.
So, onward and upward, to Thursday, the rematch of that WC final. Canada will take on France earlier in the day for the Bronze.