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US beats Canada in thriller, 4-3

Megan Rapinoe has been the United States women’s soccer team’s best player in London so far and showed of her skill with two tremendous goals to help bring USA back against Canada for a 4-3 victory in extra time.

With a trip to the gold medal match of the Olympic tournament on the line the United State women’s soccer team came back in stunning fashion to earn 4-3 victory in extra time over Canada.

Alex Morgan scored her first goal since the opening match in the final minute of injury time in extra time after she headed in a cross from Heather O’Reilly and gave the team a trip to the finals against Japan on Thursday night where they will defend their back-to-back championships.

Right midfielder Megan Rapinoe scored two stunning goals in the match to help the USA keep pace with Canada’s Christine Sinclair, who recorded a hat trick.

In the 22nd minute Canada took a surprising lead when Melissa Tancredi got the ball up to Sinclair in the US box. Sinclair faked US captain Christie Rampone and ripped a shot into the near post past Hope Solo. It was the first goal the United States allowed in four games and first in over six hours of play after allowing two in the first 14 minutes against France.

The United State went into the break trailing for the first time since their 3-2 comeback against France but nine minutes out of the locker room Rapinoe knotted things up with a beautiful corner kick attempt that curved right into the goal.

Sinclair, who US star Abby Wamback called one of the most underrated players in the world, proved her opponent right in the 67th minute when she scored her second goal. Canada brought the ball up the left side and drew the American defense over but that left Sinclair with barely anybody around her in the middle of the field and off a crosse she beat both Kelley O’Hara and Solo for her second goal.

With a goal already, though, Rapinoe was feeling it. Three minutes after falling behind for a second time O’Hara made up for her mistake she found Rapinoe with space across the field. Rapinoe settled the ball just outside of the box near the right corner and ripped it for a goal, bouncing it off the far post to tie it up.

It seemed to be a shootout between Sinclair and Rapinoe and three minutes after Rapinoe tied it Sinclair completed her hat trick off a corner kick to put Canada up 3-2. Sinlair out-muscled Carli Lloyd for position in front of the goal and connected on a header when he found US defender Amy LePeilbet out of position on the line. LePeilbet was responsible for the right post but stepped a few feet off when the ball was in the air and Sinclair put it right inside the goal.

Then there was an incredibly rare six-second rule called against Canada’s goalkeeper in the 80th minute. After scooping the ball up and the players cleared the box Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod was called for holding onto the ball too long, giving the United State an indirect kick right in front of the goal. Rapinoe set up to take the shot but scoring from that position with so many defenders in front of her was a nearly impossible task, so she did the next best thing and kicked the ball right into the arms of the Canadian defenders, giving the United State a penalty kick and chance to tie the game.

Though Canada appealed, saying that they did not have a chance to move out of the way from the fast kick, Wambach was allowed to set up and she softly hit the ball into the lower left corner of the goal to make it a 3-3 game in the 80th minute.

While both teams had chances in the final ten minutes of regulation neither could get the go-ahead goal and they had to face 30 extra minutes of overtime. Fatigue started to set in for both sides and chances became increasingly more limited but O’Reilly, who entered the game in the 101st minute, made the most of her minutes and found Morgan to assist the game-winning goal.

The United States will appear in their fifth-straight finals since women’s soccer was put in the Olympics in 1996. They are the reigning back-to-back champions and have taken three of the four gold medals. The game against Japan will be a rematch of last year’s women’s World Cup finals, which the United States lost 3-1 in penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw.

Grades

GK – Hope Solo – 4.0

Hope Solo easily had one of her worst performances on the international team, getting caught in a bad position three times to allow goals. While her defense did not exactly help her it is her job to point out where the opposing players are and set up defenses to she is not put those sorts of situations. To her credit, after a horrible game she did come up with a big save late in the game.

DF – Christine Rampone – 3.0

It is surprising to see the captain put up a performance as bad as this but she nearly came out of her shoes in the 22nd minute when Sinclair juked her out and she was nearly bear again in the 26th minute in a similar situation. In the 67th minute she over pursued the attacking midfielder and left her open to get a cross to Sinclair for her second goal of the game.

DF – Kelley O’Hara – 3.0

While she did save a potential goal, or at least one-on-one situation, when she decided to foul late in the game just outside of the box after the defense got beat, O’Hara was exposed as a liability on the defense. She did get forward a bit more than usual but she was positioned horribly on Sinclair’s first goal and was beaten in the air on the pass for her second one.

DF – Amy LePeilbet – 6.0

Other than the goalkeeper nobody can really claim fault for Canada’s third goal in the 73rd minutes that put USA down 3-2. LePeilbet was supposed to stand at the left post during Canada’s corner kick but when the ball was in the air she followed it and got beat to the left side when Sinclair put it right where she should have been. Otherwise, LePeilbet was one of the best defenders the team had on the day.

DF – Rachel Buehler – 4.5

There were long stretched of time where Buehler could claim to be the team’s top defender but when she made mistakes she was terrible. Buehler was fakes before the pass on Canada’s first goal and she got bear by Sinclair on her second goal. She also nearly gave the ball up and allowed another goal late in the game when she tried to run out with it instead of just clearing it.

MF – Tobin Heath – 7.5

Like O’Hara Heath did not really stand out at all but she did not do much wrong either. She made a few nice plays on the ball, playing it through the defense to Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach. Late in the extra time, though, Heath did try to beat the defense on her own and lost the ball instead of making a pass to her teammates to make something else happen.

MF – Carli Lloyd – 6.0

Lloyd played very well while the team was attacking; she found openings and set things up for her teammates to try to score goals. Defensively, though, it was not her best outing. Lloyd got beat on the pass that led to Sinclair’s first goal in the 22nd minute and she got out-muscled on the cross by Sinclair in the 73rd minute when she completed her hat trick.

MF – Megan Rapinoe – 10.0

Without Rapinoe the United States would have had to settle for playing for a bronze medal rather than a gold medal. The winger matched Sinclair’s first two goals with stunning scores. In the 54th minute she bent a corner kick perfectly into the goal and in the 70th she ripped a long shot from outside the box and bounced it off the post. Rapinoe might as well have gotten an assist on Wambach’s goal when she forced a penalty kick by kicking the ball into the defender’s arms. But more than just scoring Rapinoe was the one who controlled the game for the United States, constantly bringing the ball up and using her deadly accuracy to make perfect long serves to her teammates.

MF – Lauren Cheney – 5.0

Despite playing 101 minutes Cheney did not really do much in the game. One the few occasions when she got the ball she just made simple passes to teammates and as a forward she was not expected to do a terrible amount on defense. Overall it was a quiet game with no shining moments and no bad moments.

FW – Abby Wambach – 8.0

The US’s star struggled to break the Canadian defense for most of the game but her presence opened up the offense for everybody else. She was marked and had another defender close by the entire time and those were the situations when Rapinoe and Morgan scored. Plus, Wambach delivered on an incredibly pressure-packed penalty kick and tied the game up when the team needed it most.

FW – Alex Morgan – 8.5

Alex Morgan hustles and makes things happen because she hustles so much. Morgan struggled to finish for most of the match but she never slowed down and compared to many of the fatigued players on the pitch, Morgan never wore down and eventually she broke through and out of her scoring drought with a huge game-winning-goal just second before things were headed towards the lottery of penalty kicks.

Subs:

FW – Sydney Leroux – 7.0

Coach Pia Sundhage saw a need to get an extra scorer involved in the 76th minute and as usual she called on the speedster first. Until extra time started Leroux did not really even get a chance to do much of anything at as time went on her fresh legs and speed started to threaten the defense.

MF – Heather O’Reilly – 7.5

O’Reilly entered the game in the 101st minute and used her fresh legs to keep the wing play strong. O’Reilly was very active and took some attempts toward the goal, forced corners and made a perfect cross late in the game to lead to Morgan’s goal.

DF – Becky Sauerbrunn – 7.0

She did not have much time to show much of anything, coming into the game only 10 minutes before it ended, but she was a major upgrade on defense and positioned herself very well to prevent many attempts against her.

Coach:

Pia Sundhage – 5.5

Deciding to go with a 3-4-3 formation midway through the second half and continuing to stick with it was a very good decision but Sundhage waited far too long to make any sort of defensive changes and when she finally did she took the wrong player out. LePeilbet was the reason USA gave up Canada’s third goal but overall she was the best defender the team had. Meanwhile, Rampone was terrible throughout the entire match but Sundhage never even though about taking the captain out of the game. Buehler was also in the game for far too long on defense.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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