Canada’s Women’s National Soccer Team Captain Christine Sinclair summed up Team Canada’s emotional victory over reining 2019 Women’s World Cup Champions on Monday with this frank statement during the post-game press conference: “Our goal heading here was to change the color of the medal after back-to-back bronze medals. What a performance, what a fight, I’m just so proud of our team, and one more to go.” The veteran added, “For those of us who were part of 2012, it was nice to get a little revenge in an Olympic Semifinals. This is a very unique and special group, one I’m very proud to be part of, we fight for everything.”
Both teams came to Tokyo’s pandemic-postpone Summer Olympics with visions of winning gold for their respective nations. Ahead of the match, USWNT defender Casey Krueger said, “It’s easy to get up for it because of the rivalry. We know that they are going to bring their best and we have to do the same.”
For the self-confident Canadians, that dream may come true when they face off with Sweden’s juggernaut in the gold medal finale on Thursday in Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium.
Canada’s momentous triumph is extra sweet. Until this competitive match, the talent-filled Canucks had not defeated the USA in 20 years. Canada remains undefeated at Tokyo 2020-21 with an impressive 3-0-2 record and is the only nation in the world to reach the podium at London 2012, at Brazil’s Rio 2016 Games, and these Olympics in women’s competitive soccer.
The decisive victory blow came in the 75th minute of the grueling back-and-forth game. USWNT left-back Tierna Davidson and Canada’s fleet-footed Deanne Rose got knotted up just one foot within the north-south penalty box line. No penalty was called on the pitch; however, the VAR team in their stadium suite messaged referee Kateryna Monzul that the contact was worthy of further review. Interference was confirmed and Christine Sinclair was given the ball to take the penalty shot.
Sinclair’s reputation as a clutch player precedes her. She has bagged 187 international goals and is the leading goalscorer in international soccer history. Instead of the veteran taking the kick, though, she handed the ball to 23-year old Jessie Fleming. The coolheaded midfielder from Chelsea’s Women’s and UCLA’s soccer programs calmly converted the penalty shot that was simultaneously heard around the world.
For the Stars and Stripes, the stunning 1-0 loss sends them to the bronze medal match against Australia. The loss is only the second time the USWNT has not qualified for the Olympic final since the sport was added in 1996. Team USA had several opportunities throughout the game to score, especially in the second half after head coach Vlatko Andonovski substituted in Carli Lloyd, Christen Press, and Megan Rapinoe. Even then, the accomplished eleven field players could not find their collective rhythm. It is fair to say that they have been out of sync since they departed the States for Japan.
Colorado’s Lindsey Horan pushed up and made her attempts to find the back of the net. Lloyd and Press as well, but it was not meant to be. Canada hunkered down and made every attempt at forward progress a struggle.
Statistically speaking, U.S. outplayed Canada; however, all the analytics is a now moot point. The 1-nil outcome is all that counts.
FT: USWNT 1-0 Canada— NWSL Analitica (@NwslAnalitica) August 2, 2021
Shots (OT): 17 (6) - 5 (2)
Possession: 56 - 44
Duels won %: 48 - 52
Aerial duels won %: 57 - 43
Total passes: 411 - 345
Passing accuracy %: 77 - 68
Opp half passing accuracy %: 71 - 55
Crosses: 36 (!) - 8
Tackles won %: 62 - 68
Fouls: 8 - 6
Megan Rapinoe encapsulated the outcome during her sobering press conference. “Really sh*tty. Not a great performance. I think that is one of the most frustrating things. I don’t know, I don’t feel like we have a bad vibe. And the group is feeling good and everything. We just haven’t been able to find that juice that we normally do.”
Over in Canada’s media room, Sinclair said, “Heading into this game, we kind of had a feeling they were ripe for the picking.” And picked off the U.S. the strong-willed Canadians did.
The U.S will face Australia bronze medal match on Thursday, August 5 at 2 a.m. MT. In their last outing, the final score was 0-0. Team USA fans should expect a better result and their team on the awards podium.