They called it an impro vement, but Canada’s women’s soccer team found out they still have work to do to meet their Olympic expectations.
Amy Rodriguez scored a late goal to lift the United States’ women’s soccer team past Canada 2-1 on Saturday in a warmup for the London Games.
Rodriguez received a pass in the goal area, dribbled around defenders and scored in the 85th minute to give the Americans the win.
Despite the loss, it was a much better result for the team following a 4-0 defeat to the U.S. at the CONCACAF women’s qualifying tournament in January.
“We’ve grown so much in the last couple months,” said Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod, who added the team expects to win a medal in London.
There was a learning moment when Canada surrendered the first goal in the 15th minute on a mistake by midfielder Carmelina Moscato.
American midfielder Megan Rapinoe kicked from the right side of the penalty box toward a waiting McLeod, but Moscato got a foot on the ball, deflecting it away from McLeod and into the back of the net.
McLeod said there was a communication problem on the play.
“It’s really, really loud out here,” McLeod said. Attendance at Rio Tinto Stadium was 16,508.
Forward Melissa Tancredi tied the game in the 57th minute after taking a pass from captain Christine Sinclair. Tancredi, who entered the game after halftime, banged a shot off the crossbar past goalkeeper Hope Solo, who had two hands on the ball but couldn’t catch it.
After the game, Tancredi pointed to the Canadian defence as a bright spot that prevented goals from American star forwards Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan. Still, the Americans dominated the first half, kicking seven shots on goal to Canada’s one.
Sinclair fired a shot that looked destined for the net, but Solo dove to her left and pinned the ball against the inside of the goalpost. Midfielder Kaylyn Kyle slid in for the rebound but Solo smothered the ball as she arrived.
Kyle argued the ball crossed the goal-line to no avail.
Canada coach John Herdman said the first half looked lopsided because his game plan called for a strong defence against the Americans at a cost of scoring chances for the Canadians.
“There was a real emphasis on defending and when you put that mindset in you play it tight,” Herdman said. “In the second half we loosened it up a bit.”
The game ended with the Americans putting nine shots on net compared to Canada’s three.
Herdman credited midfielder Diana Matheson as the team’s best player. Matheson spent the game trading dribbles and passes with Wambach, Morgan and the other Americans around the halfway line.
“She controlled things for us,” Herdman said.
Canada now has a 3-43-5 all-time record against the U.S., including a 1-0 extra-time loss in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Canadians have not beaten the Americans since 2001.
Canada and the U.S. are in different groups for the Olympic tournament, but, with the Americans defending gold-medal champions and the favourites in London, it seems likely Canada would face the daunting task of beating their rivals if they happen to reach the final.
The Canadians will get five days off before departing for a pre-Olympic tournament in Switzerland and then moving on to London for the Olympics.