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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. Credit to both teams for their spirited quality play.

    I thought the ref had to call the handball because the shot looked to me like it was going in. When the shot is way wide for example, refs are more likely to let it go. But when it is on frame, it is a must call.

    Years ago I officiated a game and made that keeper delay of game call. It never felt right, but it was in the books. (This was as a volunteer in a Jr. Soccer league.)

    The game was so good that by the end both teams deserved to win. Thank you Canada and USA for showing high quality soccer for over 120 minutes!

  2. Perhaps…it just so happens that only 1/1000 referees would have called the 6 second violation that led to the handball call.

  3. Rubbish! If that’s the case, this call should’ve been made in every other game in this tournament.

    The hand ball call was dubious as well. The ref ignored a more obvious US handball 10 minutes earlier.

    Horrible refereeing.

  4. As was mentioned earlier, yellow cards are punishment for wasting time on a goal kick, a dead ball situation.

    Punishment for holding a live ball too long is an indirect kick from inside the box. As we saw, this is very dangerous and punishment enough.

  5. You’re not thinking about what was clear from the ref’s point of view. There’s a dead ball kick, wall comes apart, ball appears to be on frame, and a Canadian jumps with arms flailing into her body and the ball hits an arm and a hand and ricochets.

    You’ve got to see why it was called from that perspective.

  6. Seems fairly straight forward to me:

    1 – the handball was the correct call based on mountains of “case law” [common practice of refs, even documented as such as has been politely pointed out]

    2 – the free kick should *not* have been awarded for the time wasting; a yellow should have been given [again, based on mountains of established practice.]

    To OTP – please stop quoting the “deliberate” part of the FIFA Rules and ignoring the accepted interpretation of that rule. It’s silly.

    And for the free kick, I don’t terribly blame the keeper for trying to time waste even if she was warned at half time; she surely just expected to be given a yellow.

  7. If the ref. gives you a warning not to hold the ball, he’s basically warning you that he might call you on it and if you refuse to listen and except what he is saying then the it’s on you.

    If anything Canada should be thanking the ref for letting them turn this into a rugby match.

  8. It’s pretty rare for the infraction to occur, so that is why there are so few people who remember seeing one called.

    The keeper can only hold the ball for so long. It’s a rule, and breaking it incurs a dead-ball kick. The normal form of time wasting occurs when the ball is dead for a goal kick and the keeper delays the restart. No foul play there.

    The handball was harsh, but there was an arm involved that provided an advantage. It didn’t look deliberate, but if the ref gives it you can only suck it up and move on. No doubt if a call like that went against the US there would be tons of crying about it.

  9. Amy said that goalie had been warned several times that she was taking too long to release the ball. the correct restart when tiem wasting is called against the goalie is an indirect free kick. I would agree that such a thing is not usually called but if the goalie had been warned a couple of times it was appropriate. On the indirect free kick there were two possible Canadian handballs. the second one in my mind was worthy of intentional. The extra minute at the end of the first extra period and the extra three minutes at the end of the second period were okay because of injuries. the last goal was before the 3 minutes were up. the referee allowed a corner kick after time had expired at the end of the first extra period that was not appropriate. You only extend a game for a penalty. I feel for Canada but depending on the circumstances regarding warning the goalie the referee was probably appropriate in calling a foul for time wasting.It is not normally called but it should be called more.

  10. I have to say I have lost a heck of a lot of respect for Canadian soccer fans as well as their women’s team. I know American fans can be ridiculous at times (and I am quick to point it out), but when you have a coach making statements trying to influence the refs before the match, incredibly dirty play during the match and then players saying the match was decided before it began, that’s absolutely disgraceful. Then I go to the CBC website and see literally hundreds of comments claiming the match was fixed (because apparently Oympics officials care very deeply about women’s soccer). All of this when the bad decisions probably evened out in the end. I think I may have a new least favorite team.

  11. Everyone knows that the US defense is shaky, that was never the point. Solo was just sticking up for teammates who were being criticized – she did right in my book.

  12. Yeah, it’s actually pretty common practice, people just don’t notice because the camera rarely catches it.

  13. fair enough. But the US was more likely to score at the end and thus benefited by the extra time.

    But the time is a fair argument. I don’t recall seeing three minutes in an extra time period, ever really. I could be forgetting a few though.

  14. So the US was benefited by the rules being followed and Canada was benefited when they weren’t. Yup seems about right.

  15. Great game! For Canada fans the sequence of events leading to the 3rd US goal were tough to take… But it happens in this game. Canada played better than they ever have and pushed the US to the limit. As a Canadian I can accept he defeat and still be very proud of our team.
    For 15 years the US women have dominated games by being the most physical team in the world. Interesting to see that Canada showed up today with clear intention of being more physical than the US. Canada clearly doesn’t have as much talent as the US, so they had to try to do something to compete.

  16. Well in Carl. It seemed like a long time…it if the possession even exceeded 8 seconds she should have been busted. Only incorrect call about the play was the lack of yellow. I don’t think she got one.

  17. i think the ref noticed the time wasting on previous possessions and may have warned the Maple leaf keeper about it at half time. Oddly, on that possession, i started counting outloud and reached five before NBC cut away…but just and them came back.. But based on getting to five than the not seeing the ball back in play for another 3 or 4 secs, seems she clearly exceeded 6 secs. i’m sure there’s a video of it. Yep, rare call but the keeper flirted with the rule to intentially waste time and got busted. Too bad. Just b/c it’s not called that often doesn’t make it a bad call. Correct call.

  18. I don’t know why, but every time they brought up the “highly illegal” comment on the broadcast, I couldn’t help but thinking of the “strenuously object” exchange from A Few Good Men:

    “‘I strenuously object?’ Is that how it works? Objection. Overruled. No, no, no, no, I strenuously object. Oh, well if you strenuously object, let me take a moment to reconsider.”

  19. For one, I’m glad that people are being gracious enough winners and objective enough to realize that Canada played a really good game and the US needed a bit of luck to win (nothing wrong with that).

  20. The US benefited from the 6-second call and the handball going their way. Canada benefited from the physicality of the game not being controlled by the referee.

  21. 3+ minutes was entirely appropriate given that there were multiple times the game had to be stopped for injured players.

  22. I think it’s more than a 50/50. Gooch’s handball against Brazil was a 50/50. When you raise your arms and try to shield your head against a shot taken straight at your face, you have intent. The intent isn’t to handle the ball and prevent a goal… it’s to prevent the ball from hitting your face.

  23. Look, OTP, I agree with you that there were many questionable calls. I also agree that the Canadians probably had worse with the calls that didn’t go their way. I genuinely like Canada’s team and I really hope the Canadian men can get it together some day as well.

    But please stop arguing about the word “deliberate” in the handball rule. It’s well known that the rule is strangely worded but it is really universally accepted by all referees and just about everyone else whose opinion matters that the word “deliberate” doesn’t just mean you were trying to play the ball with your hand; instead it means something like your hand was in an unusual position and it was not their to protect yourself from the ball.

  24. 999/1000 referees would have called that a handball/PK.

    No matter what the LotG say, unless your arm is against your body and the ball hits it when you’ve made no motion to stop the ball, you’re gonna get a handball called.

    She twists and raises her arm which moves into the path of the ball… maybe she didn’t intend to handle it, but she did intend to shield her head with her arm and the ball hits her forearm.

    Cut and dry.

  25. The next match will be meaningless. Your team will hack away at France and still get their a$£es kicked. Fourth place is more Canada deserves.

    Almost only counts in Horseshoes

  26. Glad US won Canada is a borderline dirty team.

    The US proved that Hope Solo should shut her mouth and Brandi Chastain was right the defense was not very good. Yes the us showed great heart coming back but wouldn’t have had too if the defense wasn’t putrid.

    Reminds me of the WC. Nice come back but proving the defense is vulnerable going into a final with Japan. Japan is a good arial team and the US was crap in the air defensively.
    I also think that Beuhler is horrible and one of the main reasons we lost to China and almost lost today especially on third Canada goal.

  27. Im just pointing out where you are wrong until maybe you see the light. You came on here to cry about officiating and you are wrong but refuse to see it. You are on here cheapening the US’ defeat of Canada and I’m just showing you out the door.

  28. I somewhat agree with everything, but the 3 minute issue. A few players were injured, for both teams. The free kick for the delay was a strange call and a break for us.

  29. Might as well give it up this genius is clearly smarter than everyone else. Ever think of getting your ref license OTP? I think you have a great shot at a 6yr old league.


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