Rob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
2012 Olympics: Soccer - Canada gave it their all but still fall to Team USA in an Olympic Classic
Alex Morgan's header, in the dying seconds of extra time, earned Team USA a 4-3 victory over Canada and a spot in Thursday's Gold Medal Final against Japan at London 2012. Christine Sinclair scored three times in the loss, which was marred by an awful call from Norwegian referee Christina Pedersen, which led directly to the tying goal for the Americans.
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Edmonton - August 7, 2012 - This wasn't how it was supposed to end. They were a team of destiny. After watching Christine Sinclair score not once, not twice but three times during Canada's semi-final classic against Team USA, one had to think it would finally be their day. Unfortunately, that would not be the case. Alex Morgan's perfectly placed header, in the dying seconds of extra time, earned the Americans a hard fought 4-3 victory and a spot in Thursday's Gold Medal Final against Japan at London 2012.
In my preview to yesterday's match, I felt a win against Team USA could be a turning point not only for women's soccer but possibly, the game as a whole in this country. Ironically, losing in the fashion they did, these ladies not only won the hearts of millions across Canada but instantly re-established the love affair with fans, that had become dormant since the 2002 U-19 World Championships.
Does that make losing any easier? Not in the least. When you hear Sinclair's response to being asked if she had a message for the fans back home and it's "sorry we let you down", you understand that these girls get it. While they have nothing to apologize for, as each and every player can proudly say they gave it their all, it still hurts... badly.
Unfortunately, in a match that had it all, it was a dreadful call from referee Christina Pedersen, that will always be remembered. Now for everyone to simply assume that Canada would have won, if the unforgivable "time wasting" call against keeper Erin McLeod wasn't made, is rather presumptuous. Lets not forget, that outside of two of the highest of quality finishes from the Canadian captain, the Americans had dominated much of the second half.
That being said, for an official to blatantly make such a call, was frankly unfathomable. The job of a referee is simple. Keep control of the proceedings and ensure you do not directly effect the outcome of a match. Something the Norwegian official was apparently unaware of. In all my years of watching, playing, coaching and now covering the game, I have never seen that call made. It simply is not called. Period.
As far as the handball that led to the spot kick, in my mind, it was not the correct call but it is the old ball-to-hand/hand-to-ball argument. Unfortunately, it is nothing more than a judgement call. At that moment, you see what you see on the field and make a call. As a player, you may not like it but you can live with it. It was that initial "six second violation" that is the problem and will never sit well with any of these ladies...nor should it.
To make matters worse, having Morgan score the winner when she did, made it almost too much to stomach. Canada were literally seconds from a shootout and just like that, it was over. Just watching it was devastating! Total heartbreak, for a side that showed they belong among the elite soccer nations in the world.
Give Team USA credit, they fought back three times to tie this game up, before finding the winner and showing why they are the premier side in women's game. While losing is always difficult, the Canadian women need to re-group and get ready for Thursday's Bronze Medal match. They will be taking on another strong side in France, who were edged out 2-1 by Japan in the other semi-final.
Heading into these Olympic games, Canada's goal was to reach the podium.While it may not be the medal they had hoped for or feel they should be playing for, the situation is what it is and the opportunity for a medal is staring them in the face. Now it's up to these ladies to go out and bring home that Olympic medal. For their sake, lets hope they have enough left in the tank and don't leave London empty handed. Though with the courageous effort and level of play they have demonstrated at these games, that would be next to impossible. Bravo ladies, you have done us all proud and left us with one of the greatest moments in Canadian Olympic history.
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