The United States Women’s National Soccer team dropped a heartbreaker to Canada 1-0 in the Olympic semi finals and will now have to settle for a bronze medal match against Australia.
In a game that was short on action, there were six shots on goal combined, but only one counted. The US got the first on target shot of the game in the 65th minute. Ten minutes after that, Canada got their first shot, and made it count after Deanne Rose was taken down in the box by defender Tierna Davidson. Forward Christine Sinclair picked up the ball and handed it to forward Jessie Fleming, who slotted it home just past the outstretched arm of backup goalie Adrianna Franch. The penalty was not initially called on the field but was sent to the screen where the referee decided it was a penalty.
The biggest story in a lackluster first half for both teams was a ball played into the box caught by American goalie Alyssa Naeher before she promptly dropped the ball after severely twisting her knee in the 20th minute. She tried to tough it out until a goal kick in the 29th minute buckled her knee and forced Franch to enter in her place. In the post game huddle Naeher was spotted walking on the field on crutches. USWNT head coach Vlatko Andovski said after the match that she is going through tests and it is unclear the extent of the injury at this point.
The win for the Canadians snaps a 37-game winless streak vs the US, with the last Canadian victory coming in a friendly in 2001. This is the first time in Canadian women’s soccer history that they’ll be playing for the gold medal and the first time the Americans will be playing for the bronze. It also marks the second consecutive Olympics that the US will fall short of the gold medal game. Perhaps most alarmingly, this match is the third time in the tournament that the United States have been shutout.
On the whole, the game was not a clean one for the Americans as they continued to struggle to string together passes and failed to convert on 12 corners and play balls into the box. The once-fearsome United States offense hardly menaced Canadian goalie Stephanie Labbe at all in this match. After the final whistle Carli Lloyd was squatting on the field with her face in her hand, as the 39-year-old finished what might be her last major tournament for the United States. In the postgame interview with NBC sideline reporter Melissa Pilla, Megan Rapinoe said as much, saying that it is probably the final Olympic opportunity for the two American legends. In the interview with Pilla, Rapinoe, who was fighting back tears, said that the team never clicked in the tournament and that they never played with joy.
In the postgame press conference when asked a question about whether or not this was her last Olympics, Megan Rapinoe responded with some humor by saying, “I was wondering how quickly that question would come. You guys are trying to put me out to pasture already.”
The United States will now attempt to leave Tokyo with a bronze medal when they face Australia in a rematch of their group stage draw that ended at nil-nil.