After being pushed to the brink of an early exit from the Olympics through penalty kicks, both the US women’s national team and Canada enter Monday with an away-from-game win for gold.
The two border enemies have a new life in Japan and will join their rivalry in Kashima in an Olympic semi-final, where the winner will face Sweden or Australia for first place on the podium.
The United States escaped the scare of the Netherlands in the rematch of the 2019 Women’s World Cup final, with Lynn Williams and Sam Mewis scoring a goal and helping each other in a 2-2 draw that was resolved with shots from the spot. Alyssa Naeher was the heroine, saving two Dutch PK on penalties, having already denied Lieke Martens the go-ahead in the 81st minute from a penalty.
Canadian Stephanie Labbé was equally impressive in a penalty win over Brazil, with Canadians overcoming legend Christine Sinclair’s lack of opening PKs by being cynical in their tricks and having their goalkeeper come up with consecutive saves.
United States manager Vlatko Andonovski again turned to Williams in attack, keeping established players like Mewis, Megan Rapinoe, Christen Press and Carli Lloyd on the bench, while Tierna Davidson replaces Abby Dahlkemper in center defense.
The United States applied some pressure at the start after Ashley Lawrence made a hard foul on Lindsey Horan. The opening free kick didn’t lead to much, but the ensuing wave of attack resulted in a prolonged possession by the Canadian third and a corner kick in the fifth minute.
While the United States continued to dominate ball possession and keep the flow of play in the Canadian half court, the Canadians remained steadfast in their form while also employed a physical style of play to prevent the United States from putting together something cohesive that built towards the goal.
Canada’s first moment of danger came in the 15 minutes when Nichelle Prince came in behind and was in a foot race with Becky Sauerbrunn heading for the US gate. Sauerbrunn, the US captain, timed his slip tackle to perfection, and he had to do it, otherwise it could easily have resulted in a Canada penalty.
Stay tuned here for real-time updates and highlights of the goals and key plays from throughout the match (update for the latest updates).
Here are the formations of both teams:
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