The USA Women will face a familiar opponent in the Olympic semifinals against dark horses Canada. USA has gone three consecutive games without giving up a goal; while veteran Abby Wambach has found the back of the net in all four of their matches.
Canada on the other hand is coming off a shock win over host country Great Britain, winning 2-0 with goals provided by Christine Sinclair and Jonelle Filigno. Team Canada has gone 2-1-1 in the tournament thus far, beating South Africa and Great Britain, drawing Sweden, and losing to Japan (who is playing France in the other semifinal match).
Canada’s captain Christine Sinclair will be a key player that USA will want to watch. The captain is Canada’s 7-time player of the year, winning every year since 2005. To many analysts, she is regarded as the greatest women’s soccer player in Canada’s history. She plays club soccer for Western New York Flash in the Women’s Premier Soccer League Elite.
Not only has USA been winning but they have been having fun; as you could see with the cart-wheel celebrations during the 2-0 win vs New Zealand. In USA’s opening match vs France they went down 2-0 but came back with four unanswered goals to win 4-2. They continued with a 3-0 win over Colombia, 1-0 win over North Korea, and as previously mentioned 2-0 win over New Zealand. The defense has been a wall, led by goalie Hope Solo and Captain Christine Rampone and the attack has been menacing with a balance of Alex Morgan’s speed and Abby Wambach’s power.
Given USA’s experience and leadership it will be very difficult for Canada to pull off the upset. USA has a great balance throughout their lineup and if they are clicking, they can’t be stopped. They are full of energy and have one thing on their mind; representing their country and taking home the Gold medal. Canada on the other hand are coming off a very inspirational win and have momentum in their favor. With USA as favorites, what will it take for Canada to upset the experienced squad? Here are Canada’s key’s to success:
1. Get the First Goal – The match is going to be very fast paced and nervy. If Canada would be able to get the first goal they could put some pressure on USA and force them to attack, which could open up the counter.
2. Stay Compact – USA has shown what they can do on the counter attack. If Canada can stay organized in the back and stay compact, they could make it difficult for them to break the defense. They are likely to see a lot of crosses and balls thrown in the mixer. If they can keep a lot of bodies in the box, they will make it difficult for USA to penetrate.
3. First Five Minutes - The first five minutes of the match are going to be crucial and they can’t give up a goal. If they give one up in the first five minutes, it could get ugly, fast. They must play aggressive and frustrate team USA by getting stuck in with some clean/hard tackles.
The first five minutes of the match are going to dictate the game. If Canada are able to get the first goal and stay compact, they could give team USA a challenge. The game is going to come down to who takes advantages of their opportunities and who wants it more.
The game is set to be played on Monday, August 6th, at Old Trafford in Manchester, England at 2:45 pm. You can watch the match on NBC Sports Network, NBC Olympics Soccer Channel or streamed on NBC Live Extra.
What are your score predictions and who do you think will score?