The USWNT beat Canada and the heat in final pre-Olympic test

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The U.S. triumphantly close out tournament preparations with a match defined by stellar individual performances, hard hitting and an awesome goal celebration.

The USWNT can depart to London in high spirits after recovering the lead in the team’s send-off match against Canada.

The side battered their continental rivals in the first half, but only had an own goal to show for it. Center back Carmelina Moscato’s defensive misread put the U.S. up 1-0 and appeared to be a harbinger of more misery for Canada. A second half revival sparked by a timely substitution saw Canada return matters to level terms.  The U.S. answered by throwing numbers forward. The result? A dramatic game-winning goal from Amy Rodriguez and the successful conclusion of the team’s pre-Olympic training regimen.

More bits about the game in bite-sized form:

  • Megan Rapinoe was named Woman of the Match, and rightfully so. The flashy winger put forth one of her best performances in a national team shirt. She wrought havoc down the left side and proved to be her team’s source of invention. She supplied the initial cross that resulted in the United States’ game-winning goal. (She also technically had the assist on Moscato’s own goal). Rapinoe missed out on the Beijing Olympics due to an ACL tear. It appears she’s making up for lost time.
  • At 32-years-old, Abby Wambach continues to remind folks of her skill set’s breadth. Today it was her commanding hold-up play and fine close control. Wambach showcased both in the play that led to Rodriguez’s late goal. She managed to control Rapinoe’s pass while under heavy defensive pressure, swivel her out of trouble, and dish the ball off to an available teammate. It was vintage Wambach.
  • Hope Solo probably has as many critics as she does admirers, but there’s one thing that can’t be disputed. What is it? Watch this video and you’ll see.
  • Canada’s attack was virtually non-existent in the first half. Christine Sinclair was reduced to an ad hoc role in defense as her side struggled to pry possession away from the U.S. Canada – and head coach John Herdman – saved face after the insertion of striker Melissa Tancredi. The substitution and subsequent formation change reinvigorated Canada. Tancredi’s equalizer was probably helped by some shambolic defending from the rejiggered U.S. backline, but ‘Tanc’ deserves much of the credit.
  • The aforementioned tactical tweak led to more open play in the second half. The equalizer instilled a sense of belief in Canada and a sense of alarm in the U.S. Pia Sundhage tipped Sydney Leroux as her last sub of the match as she replaced outside back Kelley O’Hara. The switch resulted in a change to a 3-4-3 formation designed to overwhelm weary defenses. It paid dividends nine minutes later as the U.S. reclaimed the lead. Might we see this contingency plan repeated in the Olympics?
  • Alex Morgan came into today’s match having scored an almighty 17 goals in 14 games this year. An 18th goal wasn’t to be, but a goalless performance didn’t seem all that bad in light of an injury scare. An awkward tackle felled the 22-year-old early in the second half. It could have been a scene from a recurring nightmare, as Abby Wambach missed out on the 2008 Olympics after breaking her leg in the final pre-Olympic send-off match. Morgan’s injury – a twisted knee – appears to be significantly less severe. Breathe easy, U.S. fans.
  • A crowd of 16,805 took to Rio Tinto Stadium today. The stifling heat appeared to have an effect on some of the players (blotches of sun screen were visible on faces) and made it difficult to make out the numbers on the substitution boards. The climate was the polar opposite when the USWNT last appeared at the venue in March 2010. The team defeated Mexico in what was practically an all-out blizzard. Thus the neat snow angels goal celebration after the go-ahead goal.