Canada Defeats U.S. Women’s Soccer Team for First Time Since 2001 to Reach Tokyo Olympic’s Gold Medal Game

Coming into the Olympic semifinal against Canada, no one knew which U.S. women’s national team was going to show up. Was it going to be the one that showed exuberance and tenacity against the Netherlands to win a penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw? Or was it going to be the team that got walloped 3-0 by Sweden to open the tournament?

Unfortunately for American fans who woke up early Monday to watch, it was the latter, and the U.S. lost 1-0. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, though: This subpar version of the USWNT is the one that has appeared for nearly the entire tournament. With the exception of breakout performances by Lynn Williams and Alyssa Naeher against the Netherlands, the USWNT never looked remotely like the team that won a World Cup just two years ago.

Canada came out exactly as the USWNT should have expected. It was physical, gritty and sought to close down the spaces the USWNT loves to play in. Canada’s four-player diamond midfield especially managed to overrun and overwhelm the USWNT’s central trio. But the Americans also made it a lot easier for Canada. They were static in their off-the-ball movement and rarely found the space to create outlets; and when they did try to the move the ball, they did it sloppily.

Canada came out exactly as the USWNT should have expected. It was physical, gritty and sought to close down the spaces the USWNT loves to play in. Canada’s four-player diamond midfield especially managed to overrun and overwhelm the USWNT’s central trio. But the Americans also made it a lot easier for Canada. They were static in their off-the-ball movement and rarely found the space to create outlets; and when they did try to the move the ball, they did it sloppily.

To say that Canada’s penalty was against the run of play doesn’t quite do it justice. Canada had barely even entered the USWNT’s final third by that point and had zero legitimate scoring chances. But Canada’s game plan didn’t require that it attack a ton; it just needed to keep the USWNT at bay and hang on, which is exactly what it did.

Naeher’s injury in the 20th minute could have been a major problem for the Americans had they advanced or gone to penalties — she practically carried the team in its quarterfinal against the Netherlands — but it ultimately didn’t matter. The USWNT, which is known for its attacking prowess and so-called embarrassment of riches up front, struggled to score goals in Japan. Now the spotlight is on coach Vlatko Andonovski.

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SOURCE: ESPN, Caitlin Murray

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