Nine years after Canada lost a 4-3 semi-final blow to the United States at the London 2012 Olympics despite a dominant hat trick from Christine Sinclair, Canada’s National Women’s Team has a chance to win. redeem itself on Monday.
Canada and the United States will face off for a spot in the gold medal match at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and a lot has changed since that infamous match on August 6, 2012 in Manchester.
Canada went on to take bronze against France with Diana Matheson scoring the game-winning goal in the 92nd minute, securing Canada’s first-ever medal in women’s soccer. Today, Sinclair, Sophie Schmidt, Desiree Scott and Erin McLeod are the only players left on this 2012 squad.
On the American side which beat Japan for the gold medal, Becky Sauerbrunn, Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan and Kelley O’Hara are all in Tokyo.
Since the London Olympics, Canada and the United States have faced each other nine times.
It was largely one-sided, with the Americans recording seven wins and two draws. The first draw came in a friendly match on May 8, 2014, when Kadeisha Buchanan scored for Canada in a 1-1 game. The other arrived on November 9, 2017 in yet another friendly as Adriana Leon scored in the 1-1 draw.
The United States notably beat Canada twice in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers in 2016 and 2020 and the CONCACAF Women’s Championship in 2018.
Their most recent match was on February 18 at the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando. While it was a close game where the Canadians had several glorious opportunities to put the game aside, Rose Lavelle broke in the 79th minute for the home side in a 1-0 victory for the United States.
The United States has continued to lead the international stage in women’s football, winning back-to-back Women’s World Cups in 2015 and 2019 and has remained the No.1 team in the world since 2015.
Canada’s biggest highlight since 2012 is bronze at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where they beat host Brazil 2-1 on goals from Deanne Rose and Sinclair.
On January 29, 2020, Sinclair passed American Abby Wambach to become the all-time world leader for international goals (men or women). She is currently at the top with 187.
The last time the Canadians beat the Americans was on March 11, 2001 at the Algarve Cup in Portugal where Canada won 3-0 with a brace from Charmaine Hooper and one from Sinclair.
One of the most promising developments throughout the tournament so far for Canada has not had to rely solely on Sinclair to lead them to victory.
As she scored the only goal of the opener in a 1-1 draw against Japan, it was Janine Beckie who came out on top in a 2-1 win over Chile with a brace while that Leon put Canada on the board in a 1-1 draw with Great Britain.
However, this was no more apparent than in the quarter-finals against Brazil. Locked at 0-0, the match ended in penalties. Sinclair was the first player and her shot was stopped. Ripping his jersey in frustration, it set the table for the rest of the squad to deliver.
Jessie Fleming, Ashley Lawrence, Leon and Vanessa Gilles all converted their shots on goal while veteran goaltender Stéphanie Labbé made two massive saves against Andressa and Rafaelle to send Canada to victory.
The United States went 1-1-1 in a group game, including a 3-0 loss to Sweden, before beating the Netherlands on penalties in the quarter-finals.
This semi-final represents an opportunity to make Canadian soccer history as they look to improve on their back-to-back bronze medals. The United States, which finished fifth in Rio, has long been Canada’s biggest rival and a hurdle they have struggled to clear.
This match at the London Olympics remains etched in the minds of Canadian soccer fans. But Monday represents Canada’s best chance to beat its longtime rival and better end the story it has waited nine years to write.