TORONTO – Three second-half goals, two by Alex Morgan, and a third by Sydney LeRoux, secured a 3-0 victory for the United States Women’s National Team over Canada in front of a sold-out house at BMO Field on Sunday.
The game, publicized as “The Rematch”, to the contentious semifinal match at the 2012 London Olympics, drew a record 22,453 spectators—the highest-ever attendance for a soccer game at the stadium.
The match kicked off at 4:30 pm local time under uncertain skies. A short but intense rain shower just prior to the opening whistle left the field slippery, and for the first moments of the game players from both teams appeared to be getting their footing. Although Team Canada was able to hold the Americans off for the entire first half, the majority of the play was in their end.
Emily Zurrer (2) and Alex Morgan (13)
Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports
The first goal of the match came in the 70th minute when U.S. forward Alex Morgan beat Canadian defender Emily Zurrer and fired the ball into the bottom right corner of the net from 15 yards out. It took only two minutes more for Morgan to find the back of the net a second time.
“The two passes I ran onto were quite similar. The second one was a little hard of an angle, but they were just great balls,” said Morgan. “That’s bread and butter for me. That’s what I love do to. I love to score with my left foot from that side of the box and I got played in both times.”
Throughout the match, the largely Canadian crowd took to counting down the seconds each time the American keeper had the ball—a gesture recalling the controversial “six second” call by Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen during the Olympic match which some say cost Canada the game.
The final goal of the match came from U.S. forward Sydney LeRoux in the final minutes of the game when she earned a breakaway past Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod. LeRoux, originally born in Canada, popped her U.S. jersey to celebrate her goal and raised her index finger to her lips to shush the crowd—just one demonstration of rivalry in this match. This was LeRoux’s response to the crowd booing her throughout the entire game.
After the match, United States coach Tom Sermanni addressed Sydney LeRoux’s goal celebration. “Her reaction was probably a reaction of the crowd to her coming on the field,” said Sermanni. “To be honest, I think it’s terrific. I think that [the fan reactions to LeRoux] is great. It shows how far the women’s game has come. There’s a real soccer crowd out there and they’re passionate about their team and about their country… Understandably, she was quite happy with [scoring] and it was obviously an emotional goal for her.”
Kadeisha Buchanan (9), Abby Wambach
Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports
Despite the result, this match marked a milestone for Team Canada and for the women’s game. At a press conference following the match, Canada’s coach John Herdman said, “The fans were great with our girls. They never gave up on them, did they? We just kept going and they just kept going, and we didn’t give them too much to get excited about… but I think the heart was there, the spirit was there. That U.S. team didn’t break those girls’ spirit today—or the fans.”
Herdman also acknowledged Team Canada’s efforts at shutting down the United States’ legendary offense, noting that new player, 17-year old Kadeisha Buchanan “owned Abby Wambach” and naming the defender the player of the match. Buchanan’s vigilance prevented the U.S. forward from coming any closer to beating Mia Hamm’s scoring record of 159 international goals. Wambach currently has 155.
The win brings the U.S. Women’s National Team one step closer to qualification for the 2015 Women’s World Cup. As the host country, Canada does not need to qualify, but the team is still competing with the tournament in mind. “By 2015, I think we’re going to be in a good space,” said Herdman. “I think it’s lessened the expectations, and that’s important as well. Let’s get some reality here. Winning the World Cup in Canada is going to be one hell of a job.”
Canada’s next match is a June 19 friendly in Germany. The U.S. plays South Korea on June 15 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
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