The United States and Canada each survived penalty shootouts to set up a semifinal clash between the CONCACAF rivals in the women’s soccer tournament at the Tokyo Olympics.
Canada and Team USA will now face off on Monday in Kashima with a berth to the gold medal game on the line.
Shootouts put US, Canada into semifinals
The United States fell behind 1-0 in its quarterfinal match with the Netherlands before goals by Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams put the Americans up 2-1 at the half. Vivianne Miedema scored her second goal of the game early in the second half to knot the score at 2-2 for the Dutch side. The teams would eventually go to penalties, with the US hitting four straight to advance 4-2.
Meanwhile, Canada fought Brazil to a 0-0 draw in their quarterfinal clash. The situation looked dire after Christine Sinclair missed the opening penalty for the Canadians. But after taking a 3-2 lead, Brazil missed its final two penalties, allowing Canada to come from behind and prevail, 4-3.
The play doesn't care who makes it ⚽️
Massive team effort tonight and 22 strong heading into the semifinals! 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/1wKyFPyAX6
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) July 30, 2021
That set up the latest chapter in the ongoing rivalry between the United States and Canada in women’s soccer. On paper, it’s been a one-sided battle: Team USA has beaten the Canadians 51 times while losing just three matches with seven draws.
But those numbers obscure the drama of some of the most dramatic encounters between the two sides. Most notably, Canada and the United States faced off in the 2012 Olympic semifinals, with Sinclair scoring three times, each time giving the Canadians the lead. But Team USA fought back each time, sending the game to extra time tied 3-3. Alex Morgan then scored the winner to send the US to the gold medal match.
Memories of 2012 Olympics linger
That game left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Canadian team, which believed it had done enough to beat the Americans if not for some questionable officiating that led up to the third goal.
This time around, the US enters as the clear favorite. FanDuel Sportsbook rates the US as the -340 pick to advance to the gold medal game, with Canada a +260 underdog. But the Americans have no intention of taking the match lightly.
“The importance of the game is what makes us focused and confident,” USA manager Vlatko Andonovski told reporters. “We’re very aware of the rivalry we have with this team. This is probably going to be our hardest game and we know that.”
Meanwhile, the Canadians remember the 2012 result, but say that Monday’s game is an entirely different affair.
“I would say we’ve developed as a program and, on the field, the brand of soccer that we play has really evolved,” Canadian midfielder Desiree Scott told reporters. “We have belief in ourselves. In 2012, we were playing on a hope and a prayer that could get to [the final] but now we believe in what we can do on the pitch, and believe we can get to that gold medal game.”