2012 Olympics Watch-USA Advances To Gold Medal Match In Controversial Semifinal

The USA has pretty much owned the international soccer border war with Canada throughout our time playing the beautiful game on the women’s side.  

But the 500th match for Team USA is guaranteed to be a memorable one for many reasons on both sides of the border.

The USA entered today’s semifinal match at Old Trafford with history and momentum on their side.  They had never failed to reach an Olympic final since women’s soccer
was added to Games sports calendar in 1996, and the Americans hadn’t lost to
Canada since 2001.   They were unbeaten in this 2012 Olympic tournament and Hope Solo had posted three shutouts since the opening 4-2 comeback win over France.  

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But the lure of Thursday’s gold medal match at Wembley Stadium added additional fuel to the desire for the Canadians to end their 11 year losing streak to Team USA.

Christine Sinclair put the Canadian team on her back and carried them for the initial 90 minutes.  She had a hat trick in this one after failing to score in the last six contests against Team USA with goals in the 22nd, 67th and 78th minutes, but Team USA has a refuse to lose mentality.  

Every time she scored, the USA answered it with two from Megan Rapinoe in the 54th and 70th minute and a controversial penalty kick goal from Abby Wambach in the 80th minute..

Referee Christina Pedersen had warned McLeod for time wasting earlier in
the match and finally penalized her with a whistle for unsportsmanlike
conduct,
giving the USA an indirect free-kick a couple yards inside the penalty
area. Tobin Heath tapped the free kick to the right and Carli Lloyd took
a
right-footed shot that hit Nault’s arm. Pederson did not hesitate to
point to the spot.  Wambach calmly placed the penalty kick to the left side of the net past the diving McLeod for her 143rd international goal and a 3-3 tie..

The stage was then set for Alex Morgan’s sheroics, but not after some nervous moments for both teams in overtime. 

In the 123rd minute with the game looking like it was headed for the first ever penalty kick shootout Morgan with seconds left in the third and final minute of stoppage time rose over defender Chelsea Stewart to meet a cross from Heather
O’Reilly and
loop her header over Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod’s desperate outstretched arm to seal a historic
victory.

“For some reason we like to make things dramatic. I’m really happy that
Alex Morgan is on my team. This team doesn’t give up” said Abby Wambach.  “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.”

Nope, it wasn’t but Team USA is about to get what they came to London for, a shot at redemption versus the FIFA world champions.   On Thursday the US gets a chance to avenge the 2011 Women’s World Cup final against Japan while a bitterly disappointed Canadian team moves on to play France for the bronze medal.   

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