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USWNT defeat Canada in thriller, will face Japan in Olympic final


photo by John Todd/


The U.S. women's national team needed to come back three separate times against Canada, and ultimately they were the ones that came out victorious in a thrilling match that is already being considered an instant classic.

Alex Morgan netted a dramatic winner seconds before penalty kicks were to take place, heading home a cross to give the United States a 4-3 extra-time victory over northern rivals Canada in the semifinals of the Olympics at Old Trafford on Monday.

Morgan's goal capped a valiant 120-minute performance by the Americans, who on three separate occasions responded to Christine Sinclair goals.

The United States will battle Japan, who picked up a 2-1 win over France in the other semifinals fixture, in the gold medal match at Wembley Stadium on Thursday in a rematch of last summer's World Cup final. Canada will face France at City of Conventry Stadium in the bronze medal match that same day.

The U.S. team may have beaten a tough Canadian side that looked capable of pulling off the upset, but they were on the end of a fortuitous call from the main official late in the second half.

With Canada holding onto a 3-2 lead after Sinclair had scored her third of the match, a free kick was awarded to the Americans due to goalkeeper Erin McLeod holding onto the ball longer than the regulated six seconds. The ensuing free kick by Megan Rapinoe, who scored twice in the match, crashed into a Canadian player's arm and the referee whistled for a penalty kick that Abby Wambach converted in the 80th minute.

That was not the first time the United States found a goal when they were trailing, either. Canada took a 1-0 lead midway through the first half when Sinclair punished the Americans and beat goalkeeper Hope Solo with a well-taken shot following a nice passing sequence. But Rapinoe equalized in the 54th minute with an olympic goal, as her corner kick bounced over the goal-line despite Lauren Sesselmann and another Canadian defender having chances to clear it.

Canada did not roll over, however, as they reclaimed the lead for a second time when Sinclair scored in the 67th minute. The Americans once again evened things up through Rapinoe, who bagged her brace and killed the momentum Canada had with a wonder strike from 23 yards out three minutes later.

It did not take long for the Canadians to go ahead for a third time. Sinclair headed a cross off the near post and into the back of the net in the 73rd minute. But Canada once again failed to put Pia Sundhage's team away, giving up a penalty kick to Wambach late in regulation before Morgan's heroics in the final seconds of extra-time.


What do you think of the United States' 4-3 win over Canada? Consider this game an instant classic? Excited to see the gold medal match against Japan?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. You forgot to add one minute for a delay that resulted from an intentional stomp by a Candadian player on Carli Lloyd’s face. This was a clear red card that was never given so please don’t say that the refs were hard on the Canadians.

  2. everyone is forgetting that tancredi could have easily gotten a second yellow on about 5 different occasions. that would have changed the game dramatically.

  3. Watch the game morons, the US dominated for about 3/4 of the match and deserved a win. In almost every big game I have ever seen, there are questionable calls by the ref. What is new? BABY HORSE!!!!!!

  4. I can’t, but that anecdata won’t prove it has never happened. There are more professional football matches played each day around the world than I see in a year, possibly more.

    What I can tell you I have seen is a ref give warnings to a player for it. Usually those warnings are heeded and the ball comes out faster or the keeper dribbles it like a basketball to stall the 6 second count. It’s pretty rare to see a keeper hold the ball for twice the amount he or she is allowed.

  5. The question about the 6-second violation isn’t how rarely it’s called, but how far and how often can you violate it before you should expect to be called.

    I noticed McLeod doing it right from the start of the game. Every time she had possession she held it too long, several times at least 20 seconds. The time it was called, she had held it for 16 seconds. Since it seems she was warned, she has no one but herself to blame.

    One of the key points overlooked on the hand ball, was that the defender encroached on the kick and was running straight on towards the ball. Since the ball was clearly heading on-frame, should the offense be penalized by a player being too close and putting herself in danger, then using her hands to protect herself? She puts herself in a dangerous situation, then wants protection for stopping a potential scoring shot? The ref was totally correct in both calls.

  6. If you think for one second the ref didn’t totally win the game for the US you know nothing about the game. Never ever does a real ref call 6 seconds on the gk without ample warnings, plus total and utter ball to hand. I just wish the players themselves would admit they could of not done it without the ref. Thats why i cant stand this team and staff. They could care less about the actual game itself. just keeping kicking it forward and hope to get lucky

    Turd Bradley

  7. Seriously, Brett. Can you name me one time at the pro level you have seen that call? Just one. Keepers take day hikes with the ball in the box all the time and don’t get called. Yes it’s a rule. No, it’s never, ever enforced.

  8. Regarding #2- It is the keeper’s fault for not knowing the laws. If she had dropped the ball to the ground, she could have waited an hour before kicking it. Holding the ball that long is not the same as delaying a goal kick.

    A yellow is given when the ball is already dead, ie a goal kick. When the ball is live, the play is live, therefore time wasting is a foul and a spot kick is given.

    Again, you rarely see this called because beyond junior high school ages players a keeper knows they can’t hold the ball that long.

  9. “Protecting face or breast if the ball strikes the hands or arms and rebounds away there is NO infraction. The hands must delberately alter the balls direction.”

    Later on the same page, someone pointed out…

    “Unfortunately, these guidelines vary from country to country. In Sweden, we call reflexive handball as a foul, even though one is protecting vulnerable body parts. In USA for example, they do not.”

    As I intended to say, but clearly messed up, in both cases it was ‘ball to hand’, not ‘hand to ball’. They did not move their arms in order to deflect the ball, and the second player hit (which is the one the referee called) had no time to react before it hit her.

  10. Usually by that age the keepers know that they aren’t allowed to hold the ball that long… Blame the horrid Canadian keeper and her lack of knowledge before you blame the ref for enforcing a rule.

  11. I guess the fact that you had to go to a different rule book that does not apply to this match says it all, but even with USSF example you are still just not reading the rule. The only operative word is deliberate. Just because there isn’t motion doesn’t mean there is no intent. I don’t see how it could be clearer.

    Bottom line: If you think the Canadian player tried to block that ball (and I don’t), then the PK was correct. If not, we got lucky. Happens.

  12. The test is go watch more than 10-20 matches in your life and maybe you’ll start to understand the rule.

    And forshame on a ref who actually calls the 6 second rule. FIFA Laws of the game 2012-13 page 116, restart of play is an indirect kick from the spot of this foul. Rule does not state that this is a yellow card infraction. Yes, it’s like getting caught for J-walking on its usage. But it’s still a rule/law.

    Technically this rule should always be called. Multiple infractions should receive a yellow and indirect kick. That would definately deter keepers from “just gonna take a yellow” for time wasting.

  13. Now that we’ve settled the whole handball and six-second call issues, can someone explain to me how Tancredi doesn’t get sent off in 55th minute for deliberately stepping on Lloyd’s head? I can’t believe that both the field official and the AR missed that.

  14. If it’s true the GK had been warned by ANY of the officials for time-wasting while holding the ball, getting called for time wasting is 100% her own fault.

    As a GK I have been warned a few times about time wasting while holding the ball. When I’ve been warned in the past, every time I hold the ball after the warning I count the 6 seconds aloud in a respectful tone and pace. I’ve never been called for the infraction after I’ve counted aloud to ensure I get my full 6 seconds without being penalized. If she would of counted her allotted time out, I’m sure she wouldn’t of been called for the foul.

  15. When you put your hand or arm in front of your face you are DELIBERATELY trying to contact the ball with your hand or arm so the ball will not hit you in the face, even if it’s just a reaction. A ref will and should call it a handball every time. Evidently you read the rule but didn’t learn anything.

  16. Why can’t we get a ref for CONCACAF qualifying that calls time wasting on the keeper?

    Same with the 3 minutes added at the end. It could have been 5 with the Canadian player committing a foul (cleats up-uncalled) then staying on the ground waiting for the stretcher, limps off slowly when the stretcher arrives, but then comes running back on to the field as soon as play restarts. Time wasting trying to go to PKs. They deserved to lose.

    Sinclair rocked this game!

  17. I’m an American so I wanted USA to win but to be honest, I just wanted to see a good game and a great game it was. I would not have been mad had Canada won because both teams played their hearts out on that field.

    Regarding the handball. You have to keep your arms and hands close to your body even if you’re protecting your face or groin. The Canadian girl lifted her arm and thus it was a correct call by the ref regardless if she lifted it to protect her face. She should’ve took one to the face for the team.

    Regarding the stoppage time. 3 minutes was appropriate. The extra time helped both teams try to get an extra goal. It just turned out to be USA that got it first.

    Lastly, I say this. Canada has some pretty hot looking women on their team. I’m impressed. AND they played like Champions. That girl that hyper-extended her leg has a lot of heart. Hell, both teams do. Great game!

    I just hope USA has enough energy left to deal with Japan. I know they’re all dead tired, injured, sore, and everything else. Japan had an easier time defeating France. France missed an open goal on a penalty kick. Amazing!

  18. Might even have been longer. The camera cuts away from the clock and the keeper toward the end of that time. I don’t think she kicked it until after the whistle sounded. Over 14 seconds after being warned at the half probably isn’t advised.

  19. Note in the below paragraph how there are three instances of “deliberate” and one of them (“the player’s arms were not in a normal playing position at the time”) does not involve intent. (I will grant you that it is less cut and dry than hogatroge seems to imply in the below post though). (And don’t tell me that USSF interpretations don’t apply to the Olympics. This is just an example of a pretty standard interpretation of the rule. I’m sure we can find others).

    The offense known as “handling the ball” involves deliberate contact with the ball by a player’s hand or arm (including fingertips, upper arm, or outer shoulder). “Deliberate contact” means that the player could have avoided the touch but chose not to, that the player’s arms were not in a normal playing position at the time, or that the player deliberately continued an initially accidental contact for the purpose of gaining an unfair advantage. Moving hands or arms instinctively to protect the body when suddenly faced with a fast approaching ball does not constitute deliberate contact unless there is subsequent action to direct the ball once contact is made. Likewise, placing hands or arms to protect the body at a free kick or similar restart is not likely to produce an infringement unless there is subsequent action to direct or control the ball. The fact that a player may benefit from the ball contacting the hand does not transform the otherwise accidental event into an infringement. A player infringes the Law regarding handling the ball even if direct contact is avoided by holding something in the hand (clothing, shinguard, etc.).

  20. McCleod was awesome tonight, great keeper, the indirect kick notwithstanding. Even with Sinclair’s hat trick, if Canada won she was the MVP.she was tremendous

  21. Explain the forearm to Abby’s head in the area not called, let alone carded.

    If you discussed it all from all angles OK, but you are a one way street on the payroll..who is paying you?

  22. Abby took a forearm to her head while being sandwiched…no call. There were calls/no calls both ways, and Canada’s aggressive play, in the end, was not enough

    What a game

  23. Wow – I’ve been playing and watching soccer for more than 20 years and have never seen a six second foul called on the pro level. The handball was a tough call, but most refs would call it that way. And if the referee hadn’t awarded a penalty, she would have been justified in awarding a retake for encroachment. A Canadian player was halfway from the wall to Rapinoe by the time the ball was kicked.

    Sinclair is awesome.

  24. although I’m very happy of the outcome I did see a few Iffy decisions by the ref, specially the indirect kick against the canadian golie for taking too much time to punt.

  25. I loved the indirect free kick on the goalie. She literally took over 10 seconds the previous time. I remember thinking that the ref should have blown for the call. Then the next play she did it again albeit for only 7 seconds, but it was the right call.

  26. The ref is the one who cheapened the US win. Dreadful decision on the free kick (I have seen time wasting called many many times. Always with a yellow card, never with an indirect free kick), and iffy decision on the penalty.

    It’s pretty clear that the first Canadian was jumping and protecting her face (which, as she turned while jumping, led to her arms being being the point of contact), while the second was facing towards the ball, arms in front of her, and did not have time to react after the deflection off the first Canadian.
    In both cases it’s hand to ball, in both cases it’s not intentional, and thus, in both cases, it’s an iffy call.

  27. I don’t understand why people would complain about a few extra minutes in overtime. Most everyone hates pk’s, so prolong prolong prolong in my book.

  28. Raffi is not spot on and does not know the handball rule. Deliberate is the one and only determining factor, per…wait for it…FIFA rules. See my comment above. If “case law” enters here it’s in the Canadian’s favor. Most refs are pretty leery of awarding a PK in the 80th minute of a one goal game in a global semifinal unless intent is very, very clear. Not like this one.

  29. Wrong. Deliberate is the ONLY thing that counts. The Law says a direct kick is awarded if player: “handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area).” It’s a penalty kick if it happens in the area.

    Here are the FIFA guidelines for interpretation of the Law:

    “Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with his hand or arm. The referee must take the following into consideration:
    -movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
    -distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball)
    -position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an infringement
    -touching the ball with an object held in the hand (clothing, shinguard, etc.) counts as an infringement
    -hitting the ball with a thrown object (boot, shinguard, etc.) counts as an infringement”

    It’s a judgment call totally dependent on the ref’s interpretation of intent (did the player mean to block the ball) per the above.

    OTP is correct on the Law. Sorry. And yes, the Law is poorly written.

    In this case, I do no not see how in the world you can impute intent to the Canadian player. She twisting with elbows somewhat akimbo, but there’s no deliberate act to block the ball. I don’t even see gamesmanship.

    Of course, it never should have gotten that far.

  30. This.

    I was frankly shocked that Canada played the ball out when a US player was down…some background, even though the US had one of their own down, they didn’t play the ball out of bounds, they kept playing. If I had seen that as a player there is no way I would have kicked the ball out.

    I saw several other sportsmanlike gestures of a lesser sort that Canadians can take great pride in…although if they had played more hardcore instead they might have won.

    Canadians should be proud of their team tonight!

  31. I think you are spot on Raffi.

    Established practice is how football rules are enforced. And I think you are completely right on both points.

  32. +1

    It is sad that the media rallies around one of their own when they are criticized; they can dish it out but not take it it seems.

    It is also sad that some fans are taken in by the media’s defending their own.

    Fact is that Chastain is a sub par color analyst….


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