Canada 2-2 USA (aet, 1-3 on pens): Concacaf W Gold Cup semi-final – as it happened | Soccer

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And so, at long last, good night. Or, for half of the USA and Canada geographically and more than half in terms of population, good morning.

Full time: USA 2-2 Canada (3-1 PKs)

Cue the breathless Alyssa Naeher hype. Truth is she had some bad moments in this game. Even if the penalty call just before the final whistle was a bit harsh, Naeher made a mess of that play, and the field conditions weren’t an excuse.

But there’s one characteristic of the US women that simply does not change – no matter who’s coaching, no matter who’s in goal, no matter who’s in form.

They have a nearly boundless capacity to find a way to get it done.

Two chances. That’s pretty much all they got. Both put away as if they were returning an easy serve on a suburban pickleball court.

Few mistakes. Naeher had a couple of dodgy decisions, Tierna Davidson was lucky not to concede a first-half penalty, and the vaunted US midfield wasn’t particularly effective. But they figured out the field conditions and Canada did not. They stuck with the forwards they were marking and Canada did not. They cleared the ball from danger and Canada did not.

On paper, you might be tempted to favor Brazil in the final. They routed the team that dominated the US earlier in this tournament. They’ll be better rested than a US team that just played 120 grueling minutes running through a wading pool.

But you can never, ever think for a moment that the US can’t find a way to win.

(Except when they run out of tactical ideas in 2003, have a total team meltdown in 2007, and suffer an epic scoring slump in 2021. But you get the idea.)

The USWNT are heading to the W Gold Cup final. Photograph: Omar Vega/Getty Images

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PKs: USA 3-1 Canada (Fleming saved)

Psssst .. Canada? Don’t shoot to the exact spot where Naeher just saved twice!

They did.

And it’s over.

PKs: USA 3-1 Canada (Horan good)

A slight stutter-step from Horan, Sheridan guesses to her left, and Horan hits it the other way.

USA players celebrate during the penalty shootout. Photograph: Orlando Ramirez/USA Today Sports

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PKs: USA 2-1 Canada (Quinn good)

Naeher starts to go to her right again, but the Duke alum blasts it into the upper right.

PKs: USA 2-0 Canada (Naeher good)

Who needs a midfielder to take PKs when your keeper can do it? Placed perfectly.

PKs: USA 1-0 Canada (Huitema saved)

Exactly the same spot as Leon – to Naeher’s right, and nowhere near far enough away from the big American keeper.

Guess who’s taking the next one?

PKs: USA 1-0 Canada (Albert misses)

The young player based in Europe sends her shot far over the bar.

PKs: USA 1-0 Canada (Leon saved)

Canada sends up the woman who just equalized from the spot. The crowd isn’t happy.

Naeher saves. Now they’re happy.

PKs: USA 1-0 Canada (Smith good)

Sheridan guessed right, but Smith placed it perfectly into the lower left corner.

USA will shoot first. It’s Sophia Smith …

So Gilles, at fault on both US goals, draws the foul that levels the game.

What a wild sequence of events.

Canada subs on Shelina Zadorsky, which I could’ve sworn can’t be done at this stage.

Goooooal! USA 2-2 Canada (Leon 120+6)

Naeher jumps to her right. Leon sends it the other way.

And we’re going to penalties.

It’s 1 a.m. on the East Coast, and I have turned down a substitute-teaching assignment for the morning.

This will be very close to the last kick of the game.

Adriana Leon vs. Alyssa Naeher.

I actually thought the first-half PK shout was more substantial.

Leon takes many deep breaths. No way she’s going to make this.

And I’m wrong again …

We’ll have an on-field review.


I think Naeher actually got a little bit of the ball, which would mean no penalty.

The referee disagrees. This will be a penalty, and that’s a brave, brave call. The crowd is unhappy. Naeher gets a yellow card.

Canadian players are trying to move Emily Sonnett away from the penalty spot, where Sonnett has no right to be.

Coaches, don’t let your players emulate any of this.

120th min +1: Well, THAT was interesting! Alyssa Naeher races off her line to grab a long ball floated into the area and gets nothing but Gilles, who was racing forward to get her head to it.

And it’s being checked for a possible penalty.

Still checking …

Still checking …

Just send it for a review. Come on.

120th min: Huitema barely gets a head to a Canadian cross. Naeher collects. One minute of stoppage time, and that’ll be it.

119th min: Midge Purce gets the honor of standing on the sideline waiting to come in while Naeher wastes time. She isn’t waved into the game for some reason.

118th min: Girma calmly deposits the ball out of play to break up a Canadian attack. As mentioned 18 hours ago when this coverage started, she’s the key for the US.

116th min: Lavelle has been superb since her introduction into this game. She disrupts a Canadian attack and wins a throw.

113th min: End-to-end clearances now. That’s not a good thing.

111th min: Gilles holds well under pressure and starts the ball back toward the US goal. The ball eventually goes wide of Naeher’s goal, and we’ll see a long goal kick.

109th minute: Ball down the right for Larisey, and she threads the ball into the penalty area for Huitema. The field must have finally dried a bit – that pass would’ve been literally impossible at some points of this game. But Huitema isn’t able to control and shoot.

107th minute: Emily Sonnett takes the ball to the corner flag. Does she expect to stay there for 13 minutes?

106th minute: Larisey replaces Carle in the final Canadian sub.

Halftime of extra time: USA 2-1 Canada

A whistle, and a roar and scream from the crowd. They realize we have 15 more minutes, right? Maybe?

105th min +1: Quinn battles near midfield and leaves a few bodies strewn about like that classic camera shot of all the dead people and animals in Game of Thrones. Like that battle, it ultimately meant nothing.

104th min: Most of the possession favors the US right now, which is unfortunate for the trailing team.

101st min: USA corner kick, and Horan heads wide. She may be a bit disappointed that she didn’t put one of her chances on target tonight.

Gooooaaaaal! USA 2-1 Canada (Smith 99)

Canada’s defense will be wondering how that happened. A simple flick-on from Rose Lavelle, and all of a sudden, Sophia Smith has a clear shot from 15 yards out. Goal.

Replay … let’s see … oh no. It’s Gilles again. Her backpass was essentially an assist on the first US goal. Now she’s been drawn out of position to allow Smith all the time in the world to line up what will likely stand as the game-winner.

(No, my predictions aren’t worth the virtual ink they’re printed on.)

97 min: Huitema races back in.

Canada play forward for Olivia Smith, but she’s offside. Is that our first offside tonight?


Nope. Second. Both on Canada.

95 min: Assaf Oron writes, “Some refs would have not even whistled for a foul, let alone a yellow card. Red? That’s just so far out. She basically ended the game right there and then. Yes, Brazil were better than Mexico and would have likely won anyway. But from the 29th minute on the match had lost its meaning.”

I was enjoying a nice early evening out watching a colleague sing at a local bar around that time, so I have no opinion of the matter.

But all of this is distracting from what really matters here – rain.

(And, unfortunately, an apparent shoulder injury for Huitema.)

93 min: David Forshaw writes: “I agree with Geoff Danks, the officials have been guilty of this for years. And not just against Canada.”

I’m presuming that means a bit of favoritism toward the US. Since I started refereeing myself, I’ve been a bit kinder to officials, but I think there’s always an inclination to favor the big names, and the US names are generally the biggest.

91 min: Outstanding recovery from Davidson to stop the substitute Smith from bearing down on Naeher’s goal.

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