Olympics – What We Learned: U.S.-Canada – Sorry Canadians, But “Tuff S***”

SamuelLJackson: “Don’t know enuf about Soccer refs to know, but TV dude says he’s never SEEN that call made! Wow….we ll… TUFF S***!”

Yup, that’s what Samuel L. Jackson (indeed, that’s the same guy) sent to his 1,256,000 followers after the end of the U.S.-Canada game. I don’t know how much soccer Samuel has watched over the years (although we’ve seen him before), but in a game that is impossible to sum up in 1,400 words, let alone 140 characters, he did a pretty good job.

There is so much to talk about in this epic encounter that to spend too much time talking about a single referee’s decision will take away from how great this game (and this day) was for women’s soccer, but you have to start somewhere and we might as well get it out of the way.

In the 78th minute, Pia Sundhage and the U.S.,  trailing 3-2, had just played its trump card by substituting Sydney Leroux in for Amy LePeilbet and gone to a 3-4-3 formation. Megan Rapinoe put in a rare poor corner and Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod claimed it rather easily, falling to the ground as she did. She rose and was about to kick it quickly, then looked, saw her tired defense slow getting out, realized time was in her favor, took another couple of seconds, and punted the ball, as has been done thousands of times in last two decades (since the 6-step rule was changed to the 6-second rule for goalkeepers by FIFA) and likely hundreds of times at the Olympics.

We know what happened next. I don’t have a big problem with the ensuing penalty call that eventually allowed Abby Wambach to level the game, although common sense usually dictates that if you made one controversial call, you might let another questionable call against the same team go seconds later.

There are some that say that common sense has no place when we’re talking rules. They might be right. They might not.

But there is a rule that states that a goalkeeper must release the ball in six seconds. Not necessarily six seconds after they receive it (from the run of play), but – as it states here – six seconds after they are able to release it (as in not on the ground, how McLeod started). In watching the play again, I counted about eight legitimate seconds that McLeod had the ball.

So technically, she broke the rules, an indirect kick was correctly awarded and the U.S. eventually scored. There is no arguing that from here or anywhere, really.

However, to paraphrase Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee from A Few Good Men: “Yeah, but it wasn’t a real rule, was it? After all, it’s the Olympics. She wasn’t being asked to call a penalty or give out a red card. I mean, surely a referee of Christina Pedersen’s intelligence can be trusted to determine, on her own, which are the really important rules and which rules might, say, be morally questionable?”

If you know the movie, you know the response: “No she cannot.”

(Ironically, McLeod said after the game, she was warned, but “it wasn’t a real warning”. Really.)

In the years since it was adopted, I’ve seen the rule called a few times, usually by inexperienced refs who are subsequently told by more experienced ones that no one calls it anymore. One of my good friends constantly tells the story about how it was called a few years ago in a game where his team had a chance to pull an upset and he hasn’t seen that ref doing games anymore.

Yes, it’s a rule, but after I finish this story (later than I originally planned and rightfully so), I’ll drive down my street to the grocery store at 40 mph even though the speed limit is 30. I’ve driven the same road almost every day for seven years and have never been pulled over for speeding. I’ll let you know if I am tonight.

So, yes, Canada got hosed (excuse the pun) on that call in my opinion, for what it’s worth.

But, you know who else got screwed (in my opinion again, of course): the United States.

We do have short memories, don’t we? Back in the great year of ’11, the U.S. was up 1-0 over Brazil in the second half of the World Cup quarterfinals when Rachel Buehler was sent off and Brazil was given a penalty. That call was questionable (it was a different referee that day), but it wasn’t the one they got screwed on (like Canada). It was the dubious call that immediately followed, when Hope Solo saved Christiane’s penalty and it was ruled that an American (Amy LePeilbet?) had encroached, Marta slammed home the retake and the game was tied.

Encroachment? By less than a yard? When was the last time you saw that called? But it’s a rule, I guess.

Down to 10 women, the Americans fell behind in extra time, but found a way to advance with the now semi-trumped Abby Wambach amazing header.

We don’t talk about that one anymore because the Americans won, just as this would soon be forgotten if the Canadians prevailed.

In the end, as Karen Carney said after Great Britain’s loss to – again ironically Canada – (this is good enough to print in full again):

“It was a penalty but we’ve been beaten by a better team,’’ said Carney. “Yes, the referee wasn’t very good but you can’t focus on that. The referee turns up, you give them respect and let them get on with it.

“We’ve got a lot of fans now and I want to be a role model. We get a lot of positive feedback saying ‘we don’t dive, we don’t swear as much as the men’, so if that’s something they like, we have to continue to do that and be respectful. Even if we had harassed the referee, she wouldn’t have given it, so why bother?

“My mother taught me from 12 years old to show referees respect. I have a five-year-old niece Keira so I’d hate to be a bad role model for her.

“I took her out on the pitch afterwards to enjoy all the Olympic experience. It’s about a legacy, and I look at her and it’s about her and all the other girls like her.”

I tip my hat to Canada, which seems to suddenly have a much brighter future. And if Christine Sinclair’s 143 international goals didn’t make her one of the best ever (she already was, of course), today’s performance will give detractors no argument.

This one will hurt for a long, long time in Canada, probably for three years until (soccer gods willing) they have a chance at revenge against their southern neighbors on home soil in a knockout round game at the 2015 World Cup.

Until then? Tuff s***, unfortunately, Canada, you just have to move on.

Here’s what else we learned in the United States’ thrilling 4-3 extra time win over Canada:

1) Did we mention Christine Sinclair was good?

It looked like, while she was still a huge threat for Canada, Sinclair’s production might be declining and Canada was declining with her. We (and I) wondered aloud what might be left of Sinclair and Canada by the time 2015 rolled around. But this performance was just massive for her and her country. No matter what happens (well maybe injuries or something), there will now be a huge buzz for the host nation heading into the next World Cup. Do we have to wait three years?

2) Canada, obviously, can keep their heads mighty high

As with their previous two games, there was nothing cynical (except for possibly some Melissa Tancredi stuff late after she got frustrated) about their performance. Their first goal was world-class with Tancredi combining with Sinclair, the second goal was a perfect cross from Sophie Schmidt on to Sinclair’s head, and the third was all Sinclair on a corner. They had other chances, never sat back and bunkered (even when they took the lead), and looked every bit the part of a top-four team in the world. Which is much better than they were a few weeks ago, let alone a year ago.

3) However, the United States was still the better team

Perhaps not by the margin I anticipated, but the U.S. led in shots (18-9) and possession (54-46). I thought they had a little better of the play and the chances, although – to reiterate – Canada played well and it was no fluke they were in extra time. But it’s not like the U.S. was outplayed for 120 minutes and stole the game, either.

4) Megan Rapinoe and well-worked set plays

Lost in the shuffle (with some other things) was Rapinoe’s ridiculous second goal that tied the game a second time. An absolutely perfect strike from an angle that wasn’t great at a critical time. Pretty much sums up Megan Rapinoe these days. It’s obvious how much she brings to the table now, but it wasn’t long ago she didn’t have a starting job, so you have to give Pia Sundhage some credit for showing confidence in her (belatedly, probably, but better late than never) of late. It’s certainly made a big difference.

The first goal was a tremendous well-worked corner by the U.S. They knew when Alex Morgan ran short that she would pull Desiree Scott off of the front post (as the second player). Rachel Buehler then charged toward the open area, Rapinoe put the ball in a dangerous area and got the goal. But dragging the player off the front post was the plan all along, methinks.

5) I had no problem with Pia staying with the 3-4-3

It seemed a little crazy, but if you watched some of the lead-up matches, the U.S. was quite dangerous in that formation, and with Canada tiring, why not go for the win? Yes, they were exposed a couple of times, but Canada had scored three times when the U.S. had four in the back, hadn’t they? Does she dare go with a 3-4-3 in the final? Probably not, but with the game on the line late and everything turning into chaos anyway, why not? Go for the gold, right? Besides, you want to get Sydney Leroux on the field, too, right?

6) Alex Morgan didn’t have a great game

Blasphemy, I know. And sometimes all is takes is a goal to give you confidence, and hopefully that will carry over into the final. She was an occasional threat, but made some poor decisions with the ball and was unable to pick out runners in some others. Again, I’m sure that goal will obviously do wonders for her confidence, and if “it” is defined as scoring big goals when your team needs them, Morgan certainly has “it”.

7) It’s hard to find too much wrong with the Canadian defense

They gave up four goals, and probably will feel they should have done better on three of them (minus the penalty), but – given the fact it wasn’t their first-choice operation back there – they did an admirable job. I talked about the first goal. On the second, you can fault Marie-Eve Nault a little, but Rapinoe’s blast was world-class. On the winning goal, they just had nothing left to give, poor Desiree Scott (who is so fun to watch) was hobbling around, no one could get to Heather O’Reilly to stop service, and Morgan was covered on her winning header, it was just perfect. I thought McLeod played perhaps her best game of the tournament as well. Just the way things go sometimes.

8) I don’t think the U.S. defense played terribly, either

You can argue that they should have marked Christine Sinclair tighter and Carli Lloyd was nowhere to be seen on the first goal, but there were no monumental gaffes like there was against France, not even any that didn’t result in goals that I can remember. And we saw Becky Sauerbrunn come in and a tough spot and make some good decisions late, too. So not much complaining from me about the defense, and I think that bodes well for the final.

9) A big night for women’s soccer

The first game between France-Japan saw an amazing second half, but this clearly topped it. When they talk about Games of the Year in any sport, this will certainly be near the top of the list, and that should be great for the game. I say “should” because, well, you know. But people took notice of the U.S. (and women’s soccer) at the World Cup last year, and they certainly will again here. If the lead-in games drew fantastic crowds, what will the celebration games draw? Can we sneak Canada in there for one, because ….

10) If a rivalry isn’t born, it’s certainly renewed

While it’s a little disappointing to see John Herdman’s comments both before and after the game, if he was looking to build a rivalry (even if it’s been 27 games since Canada has beaten the U.S.), he might have one now. And even if there’s a little bad blood, that shouldn’t be bad for business. What I don’t like most about Herdman and Sinclair’s comments is that they question the integrity of the officials. You can say you get screwed, you can say it was the worst call you’ve ever seen, but don’t insinuate the game was fixed or anything. But I’m sure they feel terrible.


Small margins

It’s hard to watch that final goal from a Canadian perspective. Only seconds to go, tired bodies everywhere, they had a couple of chances to clear, couldn’t, the ball falls to Rapinoe to Wambach to O’Reilly, Canadian players trying to close her down, but just can’t get there. And the rest will be history. Small margins, indeed.


Another game

We’ll obviously have a finals preview on Wednesday, but the bronze medal game is still big for a now banged-up Canada against France. Canada had not won a medal in a traditional team sport since Berlin 1936.


Women’s league next year?

Yeah, I won’t even go there.


Been waiting for this one

One of my favorite chants of all-time.

  • Check for the gold medal match preview of U.S.-Japan sometime Wednesday afternoon on AWK.


60 thoughts on “Olympics – What We Learned: U.S.-Canada – Sorry Canadians, But “Tuff S***”

  1. cow pasture alum

    With regard to #8 (a.k.a smiley face), could LePeilbet be faulted for not guarding the post more closely on Sinclair’s third goal?

    Also, regardless of which side they were rooting for, Portland Pilot fans should feel good tonight.

    1. Ray Curren Post author

      Ah, the good old smiley face. LePeilbet probably should have stayed at the post a little longer than she should, but small mistake, I think. It was a great header. Indeed about Portland, certainly a remarkable program there. Clive would be proud.

      1. cow pasture alum

        Yeah, and some of us remember Bill Irwin from when he played for the NASL’s Washington Diplomats, (Does that date me or what?)

      2. Tom from California

        I don’t mind that LePeilbet slid over a step or two. So did Solo, so she merely expanded her coverage area slightly. What were the chances it goes RIGHT there? If she stays on the post, it could have gone more to the inside, still beat Solo and been in the net. Good shot. Goal.

        1. necron99

          Great shot by Sinclair. But if LePeilbet is on the post and Sinclair heads inside of LeP then Solo can dive for it or LeP can step that way. LeP on the post creates a smaller space for Solo to cover. With LeP standing where she was there was an open window, and there is no way that Solo can dive through her. Solo should not have had to worry about that space.

    2. J Footy

      yes I think LePeilbet should be faulted. She wandered away from the post, and as Brandi Chastain commented, Christine Lilly did not wander in 99 or 2001 when she cleared a ball of the line against Norway. I don’t always credit Brandi with much more than her shirtless headlines, but she was pretty good in this game. Cheers to Portland! Great program.

  2. J Footy

    Mccleod had held the ball by my count 14 seconds the previous time she had the ball. Go back and watch it. I remember thinking to myself what a silly rule this is only because it is NEVER enforced. Not men’s women’s or especially on my Sunday leagues. I was astounded it was called the next time and maybe now we can actually be consistent as a soccer body by raising the legitimacy of this rule. I don’t know. I want 6 seconds called to speed the game and the real issue needing to be addressed is time wasting. It happens every game from every team and only when you are losing does it become an issue. But it is an issue.

    1. Tom from California

      Here, here!

      The Ref should hold their hand up and wave 6 times, or something like that to let everyone know what’s going on.
      If you have to punt it out before your players get there, then too bad. You must be too tired to run anymore, and this fitness equation is part of soccer!!!

  3. Tom from California

    Can we start talking about a list of best games in women’s soccer yet? That would be a good post for allwhitekit.

      1. Tom from California

        Thanks. I have been looking for that (actually, my post below).
        Let’s do it again after Thursday!

  4. Tom from California

    Another fun post would be a roster list of the top 11 world all-star team.
    Name a 2nd team, and a 3rd for good measure.

  5. Tom from California

    Finally, for the professional game to flourish, I was thinking the other day that they need to NOT split up the top players from around the world and group them together. That depletes the name recognition and people start to forget who their national hero of interest in that last international competition was.

    USA “A” team
    USA “B” team
    USA college all-stars and up-and-comers
    USA over the hill stars (those past their prime but still name brand recognition).
    2 Latin American all-star teams, grouped by country/region.
    1 or 2 North American (non USA) all star squads
    2 Japan teams
    2 China teams (or some other combo of Asians squads)
    4 European All-star teams
    2 African all-star team

    Then do barnstorming tours and tournaments in various regions/cities around the world – wherever audiences can be found/generated.

    The reason I suggest to keep teams together by country (or region if that’s not practical/competitive) is simply to maintain name recognition of the players. Before “parity” takes place (which seems to be the goal of profit sharing monopolistic organizations such as MLB, NFL, and NBA) there needs to be 1 or 2 dominant CHAMPIONS that build an incredible aura about them because of their unbeatability, the reliability fans end up feeling in rooting for them (because their going to win again) and the SHOCK that occurs when they do get beat. I mean, everyone loves a winner! Or an underdog.

    This was the case, was it not, with the early NY Yankees, the early Boston Celtics (not to mention the NBA’s “real” growth during the 80’s with the Laker’s Showtime and Bird’s Celtics), and still is the case with NCAA football, where there are about 20 reliable teams year after year after year for fans to sink their teeth into. Having a Boise State, Utah, or TCU come along every now and then is healthy for the story lines, but a constant jumbling of things doesn’t help people get involved, which is exactly what they need. A consistent and known product. And after each World Cup or Olympics competition (what with the only TV audience being based on national teams), well, they need to leverage that – not deconstruct and rebuilt the teams.

    With the way the women’s league was set up, with teams constructed of stars from all over the world – how could the casual fan keep up with who’s who? I know I couldn’t. People would say to me, “Let’s drive down to Hayward to see the “Gold Pride”.
    First of all, who the heck is the “Gold Pride”?
    Second of all, who do I know that is on that team?

    Let the Pia Sundhage team stay intact and take on all-comers. See if anyone can beat them. And don’t do 20 game long seasons. Do tournaments, exactly like the one’s kids play in. Bracket of 16, groups of 4. Bracket winners, qtr finals, semis, championship and consolation games. Build excitement into a shorter time period. Just have multiple tournaments in the barnstorming/travel format.

    For the “Mid-Atlantic tournament”:
    Bracket A plays in Richmond
    Bracket B plays in DC
    Bracket C plays in Baltimore
    Bracket D plays in Philly
    Top 2 from each group advance and play in same 4 cities.
    Semi’s in Philly and DC.
    Final in DC

    California tourney:
    A in Oakland
    B in Sacramento
    C in LA
    D in San Diego

    6 tourneys a year, and Alex Morgan coming to a stadium near you!
    Each tournament would include the teams I initially listed, plus some of the local “pro” teams that exist (see wikipedia for a list of them).

    Yes, I am available for hire. 😉

    1. PQ

      Who do you propose will be paying all these players? Not many countries invest in their womens team like the US does, Brazil is an excellent example. I think expecting all of these countries to send teams to the US to play in these tourneys isnt practical.

  6. thesavvyboomer

    Don’t worry, we Canadians will move on but whether the US wins silver or gold it will always have an * beside it which will read *thanks to Christina Pedersen and if you don’t like that-tuff s***

  7. Forgedias

    The fact your trying to justify this has to tell me you are a homer. Give credit where credit is due. Canada played better and should be going on. All I wanted was to see a good match, and what we witnessed was a match of a decade happenning until that silly call on Mcloud,

    The enforcement on the 6 second rule? In a semi final game? I’m pretty damn sure no one here has every seen that call made in their lives. And to see that call made in a match to a gold medal game is shocking. That game SHOULD of been decided by the players involved, not by the referee, and to have an indirect free kick at the 15 yard line is amazingly generous.

    The refereeing of this match has been horrible, so many missed calls and in the end the referee lost control of the match, but one does not decide a match this important by calling a weak foul such as the one called on Canada for that indirect free kick. Its NEVER called in a game as important as this.

    No matter how much I want to see a rematch been the United States and Japan, I can’t agree with this, this match has been tainted by the horrible officiating. Canada was robbed, plain and simple, they should be the ones in the gold medal game, not the United States.

    1. random

      I can’t help but wonder if Herdman’s comments came back to bite him and Canada in the a**. Like, you want to talk about illegal, well lets call the six second rule on the GK and a questionable handball in the box.

      Oh, and it’s Mcleod not Mcloud.

      1. Goaleemama

        I was thinking the same thing… making accusations of cheating might bring bad luck! (*Note to Herdman)

  8. Kevin

    You have to play the ref, which ever sport you play. The one balancing universal figure is that the referee has to call it both ways, you cannot penalize one team for one thing and not the other. The Canadian player was right, the referee needed to take of the American jersey she was dreaming about. The announcer was talking about the handball rule, since the American player’s arm was not extended, no foul. Canadian’s arm to elbow not extended. Sheer physics of her jump elbow to hand extended, not intentional player could not process information to do movement quick enough. Penalty kick? I’m not going into the six second rule, shouldn’t have been called. Sportsmanship? Canada kick out of bounds due to american defender being down. American player clearly out of bounds play on? Canada may have been outplayed but they still one that one. Oh well…nothing you can do, one of those life lessons.

    1. Tom

      I am a die hard US Soccer fan. And I was shocked to see that call the referee made on time wasting, and then the hand ball. I can’t remember ever seeing anything like it at any level. Then it seemed to me she didn’t make another call after that. Canada’s Tancredi had a license to kill for the rest of the match, and that she did. I think she fouled both Wambach AND Morgan on the play that resulted in the winning goal. I’m not complaining, I loved the way Tancredi played.

      I didn’t care about Canada soccer up until yesterday’s match. I didn’t think they were in the upper tier of teams. I was wrong. They played a beautiful match, and left it all on the field. I have a new found respect for Sinclair, Scott, Tancredi, John Herdman…all names I didn’t know before yesterday.

      I expect Canada to rise from this day with great things to follow. I am rooting for them to win a medal in their next match.

      No matter who had won that match, and in spite of what the referee got very wrong, that was as good a football match as I have ever seen.

      Like the old man told me when I was a kid…sometimes you’re the hammer, sometimes you’re the nail.

      I’m more interested in the USA Canada rematch than the USA Japan.

      1. Tom from California

        I’m more interested in both Thursday matches AND in seeing what kind of program can get put together after these games so that we see these teams and players again before 3 years.

  9. hula5150

    Canada= FC Whine

    The clearest penalty kick call which ought to have been made was Wambach being held and then knocked over by Tancredi and Filigno at the same time during a cross from a corner kick denying Abby a scoring chance to go up for the ball.

    Canadian fans and media have a completely delusional inability to see anything other than iffy calls that went against them and not the iffy calls the USA did not get. The refereeing was a two way street.

    Watch the replay. There is nothing unfair going on. And Tancredi deserved a red card long before overtime even started.

    Canada got plenty of breaks. They lost

    FC Whine

    1. Tom from California

      I did see this morning that Tancredi did a deliberate foot stomp on Lloyd’s head in the box. Man, that’s unsporting. She was a complete beast in the game, but that just lost much respect I had found for her. I remember Christian Laatener doing that vs. Kentucky, and he never lost the punk image he earned there.

      1. Marianna

        I agree that the reffing was a two way street, but Canada had it at the most in opportune times…actually I don’t really care they played great

  10. Jayson

    The US should not be moving on for the gold. The game turned into a farce because of Pedersen being so out of her league, it became sickening. Pedersen was an absolute disgrace, how she was chosen to be an Olympic soccer referee, is baffling. Olympic refs are supposed to be neutral, & there’s no way on gods earth Pedersen was neutral in this game. She had the winning team decided before the game even started. The US played well, but they were not the better team in this game. If it wasn’t for Pedersen’s incompetence, her idiotic calls, the game would have been Canada’s & anyone seeing that different, is as incompetent & biased as Christina Pedersen.

    Americans may gloat over their womans soccer team “win,” but when a team secures a shot at the gold medal because of incompetent officiating & not by their own accord, they might be thought of as winners in America, but to the rest of the real world, they’re second best or less.

    1. Marianna

      The next world cup is in Canada…I don’t think she will be refereeing there 🙂 I don’t think that she was completely biased, I just think that she sucked

    2. Goaleemama

      Canada may have played better than their last two meetings with the US, but the cold, hard, truth is that they still had 40 plus minutes (10 +15+15+ ?) of play to get ahead after Abby Wambach’s goal at the 80 minute mark, and they didn’t do it.

  11. mskenny

    Then there was the Wolves supporters version of the chant when it became clear they were going down for this season: “Que Sera Sera, we’re going to Barns-e-lee…”

  12. Tom from California

    * 6 second rule shouldn’t have been called.
    * 2 handballs into both bodies on subsequent shot, calling either one or neither is understandable.
    * Refs are fallible. Refereeing is not an exact science and is part of soccer! That is a constant, and it sucks about the game! Review these injustices lest you think you are alone and were singled out! There are a long list of asterisks in sports. It does little good.

    *Because refs are part of the game, you have to win by more than 1 goal, or else you are subjected to fate. If you are only good enough to win by 1 goal, then you aren’t good enough. That’s my soccer logic. Don’t leave it up to refs to decide your fate. Win by 2 or change the soccer rules so scoring margins are wider, say 7-5.
    * Canada indeed played a great game. The USA was not at all shabby either. Great match.
    * I would like to have seen what Canada might have been able to muster on the attack when Buehler went down. I get the sportingness of it all, but I think there are times when you have to play on and go for the win, especially for a Silver/Gold medal. That’s what I was hoping they had done at that moment. They had numbers. Go for it. Buehler had a cramp, right? She didn’t break or tear anything. It was muscle failure upon landing from a jump. Isn’t that part of the whole fitness equation that goes into the battle of attrition that soccer is partially supposed to be?
    * The USA dominated the overtime period.
    * I feel for you, Canada. Fantastic match!

  13. Soccerpop

    Regarding Canada’s first goal, that goal was borne of Rapinoe and Heath somehow ending up on the same side of the field and neither getting back effectively to defend. The entire defense broke down as everyone waited for the missing outside mid to step forward and pressure the ball, but I would point the final blame at Cheney (much more than Lloyd, who I believe finally did step up to try to cover for the missing mid) for not tracking back with Sinclair as she entered the box unmarked. Rapinoe obviously redeemed herself in the second half. Heath didn’t do much the entire game.

    1. Tom from California

      Tobin Heath had that nice little dance dribble to the top of the left corner box toward the end that could have turned into something really special. If she can do like that, then maybe she can be a middle distributor as they were saying in the broadcast.

      I thought Rapinoe was woman of the match. Forget the fortunate corner or the laser rocket goal, she owns possession in mid field and does nice turns with defenders on her but to switch field or just pivot into free space. If we had more possession like that and dribbling thru 1 player to reach an extra pass to teammate, we’d be even better. Maybe Tobin can be that type to control the midfield and yet still have speed to push forward on the attack. I liked what she was showing, albeit that was the first time for me realizing why she was starting.

      For me, it was Cheney who largely disappeared during the game. But, hey, there are 22 to look at out there, so….

      O’Hara is adjusting well enough, I suppose, to the defender roll, but I watch specifically watching her on Sinclair (NOT) before her header goal (the cross, not the corner). I wanted a body on her before the cross to subtly knock her off balance before the jump on the pin point cross. This is the same that Canada wanted on Morgan before the game winner. In both cases, defenders gave space, 1-3 yards, and the deadly strikers were able to gather themselves, leap straight up when they wanted with pure concentration. Put a body there, O’Hara, and Sinclair is off balance enough to kick it over to top. Can’t leave players unmarked in the box.

  14. D

    Trying to justify bad referreeing with another case of bad referreeing is just wrong. Both calls at the end of this game were terrible and I’m a US fan. Our friends from Canada deserved better and a shot at a rematch with Japan for the gold.

  15. cow pasture alum

    Perhaps the reason one rarely sees explicit enforcement of the 6-second rule is that keepers are warned first, and 99.99 percent of the time they have the sense to heed the warning. McLeod admitted that she was warned and did not take it seriously. If you are a ref, you can’t let players adopt such an attitude and hope to keep control of the game.

    1. Michelle

      THANK YOU. Finally someone points this out. How many warnings did she need before the actions were taken seriously? An AR doesn’t just speak on his/her own behalf, as they are assistants and not the CR! I’d be surprised to hear an AR thinking they could just warn a player without referee approval or prodding.

      And just because something’s NEVER called, doesn’t mean it’s not in the rule book and not subject to being called. I wish professional play was held to the highest standard of law to promote respect for the game to aspiring players. The way it is now – not just in soccer, but pro sports in general – is that pros are above the laws of the games.

      1. Tom from California

        Well, this is a good point to examine – exactly HOW and WHEN was McCloud (butchered that) warned? This has not been reported well to my knowledge.

        1. cow pasture alum

          All of the reports I’ve seen said it was by an AR at halftime. And as Michelle points out, the four officials are a team, constantly keeping in touch via their headsets. Just which official happened to speak for the officiating team in any given instance should not be an issue.

          1. Calcetto

            Why is everyone missing the main points:
            1. When the free kick was not successful, plan B kicked in by awarding a penalty shot
            2. Why is everyone hitting on the ref. she was instructed to make sure that the match was won by he US – FIFA should be under investigation especially that piece of shit Blatter – Platini hyrry up & take charge.
            3. TheUS team is a better team but not on that day

            1. cow pasture alum

              The free kick was about as dangerous as a corner kick; 9 times out of 10 nothing would have come of it, and we wouldn’t be talking about it today.

              With regard to Plan B, the ref didn’t cause two different Canadian players to handle the ball.

  16. laura

    I think it’s too bad such a wonderful match is marred by terrible reffing. But you know what? It happens:

    1996: Norway’s Gro Espeseth gets called for a handball in the box in the 77th min.; US equalizes with the Michelle Akers PK, Shannon MacMillan goes on to score Golden Goal.

    2000: Did Dagny Mellgren handle the ball just before she pushed it past Siri Mullinix for the Golden Goal in Sydney? Julie Foudy thought so (http://nyti.ms/PDnkL0).

    2011: Have we forgotten so soon the encroachment call on the first Brazil PK following Rachel Buehler’s ejection – a terribly blown call on its own?

    I feel for the Canadians, I really do. I think the delay of game was ridiculous – never should have been called. But I also think they gave up three 1-goal leads, and that Canada wasn’t outplaying the U.S. so badly that an equalizer was out of the question anyway.

    But mostly I’m just bummed at all the anger. It was such an amazing game.

    1. Tom from California

      agree agree agree.
      they gave up three 1-goal leads, and that Canada wasn’t outplaying the U.S. so badly that an equalizer was out of the question anyway.
      win by more than 1. the ref can account for 1 goal in any match either way, usually not 2.

    2. random

      Not to mention in 2007 WWC semifinal when Boxx got red carded for Christiane clipping Boxx’s heel and falling in the Brazil game.

  17. Wear Nikes Drink Gatorade

    When Christine Sinclair states that the ref fixed the game, the reaction is that it is disappointing but understandable. When History’s Greatest Monster Hope Solo did the same thing after a WPS game in 2010, the reaction was that it was horrid and damnable offense.

    This brings up an important life lesson: provided that you are civil and modulate your tone, you can say anything you want to, no matter how awful or absurd it may be.

    1. Tom from California

      was wondering the exact same thing. Let’s go thru the game and count all the instances she had it, and other keepers over several various games…

    2. cow pasture alum

      If Solo had been chronically holding on to the ball too long, surely Canadian fans would not hesitate to point it out. Their silence speaks for istself.

  18. BlasianSays

    If Pedersen had wanted to give the game to the US, she would have called Sesselmann for her scissors tackle against Wambach in the area (penalty and at least a yellow card), and Tancredi for her stomp on Carli Lloyd’s head (straight ejection), or have given Tancredi a 2nd yellow for persistent infringement. As it was, the referee was bad on both sides.

    And I’m not about to say that she should have overlooked the laws of the game and not called McLeod for the 6 seconds, because I don’t believe that the laws should only be applied when it suits critics. Is it a law? Yes. Did the referee call it? Yes. That ends any discussion about “should.” Just because something happens one time out of a million doesn’t mean it should not have happened.

  19. K

    Soccer is much too complex a game to be reduced to one factor. There’s a lot of gray area inherent in every match and by the nature of the game the final decisions fall to the referee. Sometimes it works to your advantage, and sometimes it doesn’t. This is part of watching the game. If you can’t handle that, you aren’t cut out to be a soccer fan.

    I don’t blame anyone from the Canadian team, nor their fans, for complaining–to a point. It’s one thing to say the ref made bad calls. I will absolutely not begrudge them that because in their place I would say the exact same thing, and there is absolutely room to argue her calls. But to say that the match was fixed is insulting to the US team and belittles their excellent performance. People act like Pedersen stopped play to roll the ball into Canada’s net herself and count it. Canada had the lead three times, and three times they couldn’t hold on to it. They had less possession and fewer shots on goal. *One* of these 7 goals is contestable. In what universe is that a game that Canada unquestionably had in the bag, but for the ref?

    Maybe it’s true that with a different ref Canada would be en route to the gold medal match–but maybe not. I have my beliefs and everyone else has theirs, and in the end I suspect no one will convince anyone else. It doesn’t matter, because what’s done is done. In any case as a USWNT fan I am incredibly proud of the way my team performed and kept their efforts up to the final second, and I don’t think the officiating nor the post-match finger-pointing should detract from how well they did.

  20. WalesGER

    lets bring it down to the point- the game was epic! brilliant football from both sides…. absolutely high class… but the ref. was piss pour!! thats it… the beginning of the game I asked on twitter if its just me or if Pedersen somehow is making some US-Friendly decisions…. but that changed several times during the game…!! she never was in control of the game…. some harsh and unexplainable decisions on both ends! plus…lines men/women were obviously also not able to see if its a corner or a goal kick!
    unnecessary to say ( as a former Gk) that this 6sec rule is just ******** and as Pia Sundhage said ( a women who has played on her own for about 20years!) she has never seen such a call before! and a warning..well I didnt see that warning -however she called that freekick and she gave the PK at this time instead of clear handball from Rapinoe on the other end and a PK for Abby wambach later….
    the game was epic and even with all disappointment the canadian players and staff and fans are surely having…we should not reduce that to the pour ref!
    Kudos to both teams ! the US Girls showed once more their “never give up” mentality and canada learned a lesson ( not that unfortunately the refs are not holding on with the progress the players are making in that sport) …. a game ends when the whistle is blown ! this time after 3min additonal time on extra time!!

  21. john

    Bottom line: amazing game. Kudos to Pia f/ her positive approach w/ the 3-4-3 continuation. Kudos to the players who made the switch w/ very few glitches. Hats off to Sauerbrunn f/ her “Becky we know you haven’t played much, would you mind sealing the win?” role. I must give credit to HAO f/ that final cross as I had recently stated she usually does not compose herself to hot a directed cross. Sinclair-best forward of all time? She obviously has never had the supporting cast of Mia or Abby. Unfortunately, part of the amazing was the officiating. In my opinion, every close or 50-50 (if you will) call was missed by the respective referee. This includes endline calls, the delay, the handball, etc. and these calls were missed to favor/hamper both sides. Aside from getting the calls right a ref should “manage” the game and perhaps in the end this was the shortcoming.

  22. Wear Nikes Drink Gatorade

    Random thought: Refs probably call six seconds so infrequently because of having to give an indirect kick in the box. Would it be called more frequently if the punishment was a yellow card for the goalie (as it is for delay-of-game on goal kicks)?

  23. Adam

    I thought Morgan had several dangerous crosses. I can think of two Abby missed: one was the gimme she put wide, the other was the header that hit the crossbar.

  24. Kathy W

    Thanks, Jenna, as always, for your measured evaluations. Though I’ve been a fan since I saw the semifinal USWNT v NOR game at Atlanta 1996, I’ve never played the game and always learn tons from y’all.

  25. Quick as a Flash


    The game was a huge plus for women’s soccer. In this game Sinclair’s performance eclipsed any 1 game effort even by the peerless Marta.

    The game also was a reminder of the one big problem with women’s soccer. The refereeing. The simple fact is that female referees have not had sufficient experience to perform in games with large crowds and everything at stake.

    The center referring is always going to be tough. But some line refs were scared to even call the out ball and waited for the center ref to determine the throw in.

    The solution is to set a much higher minimum qualification standard.. This would mean that most referees (but not all) would be from the top ranks of male referees.

  26. jlm

    Announced today that we’ll have the same German referees for tomorrow night’s final as we had at last summer’s World Cup final against Japan. Sure hope the resulting score is not a repeat of last summer …


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