For those of you who watched that fateful semi-final match during the London 2012 Olympics, the encounter between Canada and the US Women’s National Soccer teams, and who screamed in frustration and anger seeing Canada get robbed– yes, robbed– of their chance at the gold medal, the friendly match (that was anything but) between the two arch-rivals to be played at BMO Field in Toronto had been eagerly anticipated by Canadian soccer fans for months. Canada Soccer said “The crowd marks the highest-ever attendance for a soccer match at the national soccer stadium,” a record 22,453 attending the sold-out encounter, branded “The Rematch” and watched by probably thousands and thousands of avid soccer fans on television all over Canada and the US.
Sadly, Canada would not win this match either. The difference being, however, that this time around there was no doubt who was dominating on the field. Canada was defeated Sunday afternoon 3-0 by a US team who just dominated the ball throughout most of the game, neutralizing Canada’s captain Christine Sinclair from the get-go, not even letting her get near the net– except for a fleeting chance at the end of the first half that was halted by the US goalkeeper– and shutting down completely the Canadian team, not giving them any chances, it seemed, to even attempt to score.
But this didn’t wane the screaming crowd’s energy. If there was something those who watched the game from their TV sets missed out on it would be the electrifying feel of the crowd for this match, all of whom would count down in unison (that’s right, almost 23,000 people counting down in one voice) every time the US goalkeeper had the ball– an homage of sorts to that crucial moment that many deem is what cost Canada the medal in London, when the Norwegian referee Christina Pedersen penalized Erin McLeod for holding the ball for over six seconds (a call that is rarely, if ever, made) and gave a free kick to the US squad and allowed them to score against Canada.
You could’ve seen the sea of red from outer space, and the crowd chanted, clapped and cheered non-stop for Canada for the 94-odd minutes the game lasted. A large number of the crowd, it seemed, included groups of little girls coming to watch the game with their own soccer teams to watch their idols and hopefully get inspired to become one of their heroes in the future. It really was a perfect afternoon, with the sun shining for the entire duration of the game (after on and off heavy downpours all weekend, even minutes before the game started) and the incredible spirit of the crowd, hoping their favourites would win.
It was only in the second half that things started to turn around in favour of the Americans. Alex Morgan ran with the ball, managed to deke out Canadian Defender Emily Zurrer, breaking through past Erin McLeod, who gave it a good try at stopping it, and scoring the first goal against Canada, taking the lead at the 69 minute of the second half. Only a couple of minutes later, Morgan does it again and scores the second goal of the match against Canada. “Alex Morgan is simply deadly inside the opposition penalty area,” said the game announcer.
Then, just to seal the deal, Sydney Leroux, the Canadian-born who chose to play with the US team (who had been booed all through the game by the deafening crowd) scores the last goal of the game at the 92nd minute, just seconds before the match ends. She grabbed her shirt, showing off her US team crest, putting one finger on her lips signalling the crowd to be quiet and then smiled proudly and hugged her teammates. It can’t be denied, it was a beautiful goal, with Leroux controlling the ball and taking her time to deke out both the defender Robin Gayle and goalkeeper McLeod, and sending the ball effortlessly into the net to score the third and final goal that marked the end of this highly anticipated match between the Canadian and US squads.
If anything is to be taken out of another painful loss against the US team is that Canada needs to work extra hard in preparation for the 2015 FIFA women’s World Cup, when Canada plays host to the event, if they are to beat once and for all their arch-rivals. This is the 45th loss against the American national team, where Canada has only won 3 games in their 53 game history.
Canada was represented in this match by Erin McLeod in goal, 17-year-old Kadeisha Buchanan (a new addition to the team who was named player of the match for Canada), Emily Zurrer and Carmelina Moscato in defense; Rhian Wilkinson, Desiree Scott, Lauren Sesselmann, Sophie Schmidt and Diana Matheson in midfield and forwards team Captain Christine Sinclir and Melissa Tancredi. Tiffany Cameron, Kaylyn Kyle, Robyn Gayle and Danica Wu were later replacements for the Canadian Team.
The US team was comprised of Nicole Banhart in goal, Christine Rampone, Crystal Dunn, Heather O’Reilly, Carly Lloyd, Alie Krieger, Lauren Cheney, Alex Morgan, Whitney Engen, Tobin Heath and Abby Wambach and replacements Kristie Mewis, Sydney Leroux and Christen Press.