The US women's national soccer team beat Canada 4-3 today in one of the craziest games Old Trafford has seen in ages. Canada led the first half after a stellar goal from Christine Sinclair, but it was in the second half that the game went from suspenseful to absurdly, ridiculously close.
It was bound to be a compelling game, even without the blistering play. After all, Canada is an interesting opponent for the American women. As their neighbors to the north, Canada represents sort of a strange mirror image of the US team.
Abby Wambach came to this game with 142 international goals to her illustrious name, but Canada's Sinclair showed up close on her tail with 140 goals; Sinclair is fierce like Wambach, and she heads the ball into the net like Wambach, inspiring some obvious parallels. Even stranger, the US's Megan Rapinoe has a bleach-blond doppelganger in Canada's Sophie Schmidt, who incidentally went to the same college as Rapinoe. (Sinclair, Rapinoe and Schmidt all graduated from the University of Portland. Small world!)
Quite the rivalry has bubbled up between the two nations over the years. The Canadian women haven't beaten a US soccer team in 11 years, and their desire to win was just boiling over in this game. The Canadians obviously came for gold.
After Sinclair's first goal in the 22nd minute, Rapinoe scored from a corner kick, bringing the game to a tie. Chastain described the United States as "like a shark in the water when there's blood. They're going for more."
But it wasn't the US that initially went for more. Instead, Sinclair shocked the stadium by netting another goal, bringing Canada back to the lead. Not to be outdone, Rapinoe shot the ball into Canada's net again, evening out the score (2-2) once more.
The crowd's collective blood pressure was already up when Sinclair performed a hat trick, bringing her personal tally of international goals to 143 and putting Canada squarely back to a 3-2 lead. It was an unbelievable moment in sports. No wonder Wambach has called Sinclair "the most underrated player on the planet." Why isn't Sinclair's name on everyone's lips? It should be from now on. Sinclair didn't even celebrate after that goal. She looked almost enraged, or rabid. Who would've guessed she went to school in chilled-out Portlandia?
After that third goal by Sinclair, Canada made some vital mistakes, giving a free kick and a penalty kick to the US. Of course, Wambach took the penalty kick and scored, creating a 3-3 tie.
That tie remained for the rest of the game, when 15 minutes of extra time were added. After no one scored, another 15 were added. If no one scored after that, a penalty shootout would determine the winner. The US didn't want that. That's how they lost the World Cup to Japan last year. They wanted to win the game in those last few minutes.
And win they did! Alex Morgan heroically came through with a goal in the 123rd minute, putting the US into a rematch with Japan for the Olympic gold medal. The US now has their chance for redemption after last year's World Cup loss.
It was a thrilling conclusion from America, but you almost have to feel sorry for Canada. Almost.
At the very least, Christine Sinclair set herself apart as a true champion today.
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