For the second cycle in a row, the U.S. women’s national team leaves the Olympics in a disappointing fashion.
The USWNT suffered a 1-0 defeat to Canada on Monday morning and a gold medal is officially out of sight.
On one of the grandest stages, Canada defeated its neighbor for the first time in 20 years.
The game was won on a penalty kick in the 75th minute after Tierna Davidson took Deanna Rose out inside the box. It was not initially called on the field, but it became obvious with each replay during the VAR check that Canada was going to get a golden opportunity.
Native legend Christine Sinclair gave the ball to Jessie Fleming, who had ice in her veins, and delivered an arrow past Adrianna Franch.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 2, 2021
You might wonder why Franch was in goal.
U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski was forced to make an unwanted substitution in minute 30 after Alyssa Naeher took an awkward fall that injured her right leg or knee. Initially, she tried to carry on, but after blasting the next ball that came to her, she kneeled to signal that she was taking herself out of the game.
With her, went her penalty-saving superpowers that could have had a major impact on the game.
In the end, if it came down to Naeher as the cape wearer once more, victory still was not certain with how the U.S. was playing.
Neither side managed a shot on target in the first half, and the Americans came out looking more likely to break through in the second. But Canadian keeper Stephanie Labbe was up for it and collected five saves once the floodgates were open.
Even with a refresh of the entire front line in the second half, Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, and Christen Press found themselves unable to leave a mark as the USWNT’s disjointed woes resurfaced on a handful of crucial plays.
Plenty of uncertainties lay ahead of the USWNT.
It can still snag a bronze medal on Thursday against Australia or Sweden, but those are the two teams it failed to beat, let alone score on, in group play.
The bronze medal game could mark the end of an era considering the overall lackluster Olympic display. Even if the Americans can capture the bronze, the aging core of the USWNT leaves Tokyo with fair questions, and it may be time to pass the torch to the next generation in a handful of positions.