Two strong teams who are traditional rivals at everything, one team trying to keep its dominance, the other trying to break into the elite.
I sat on the patio of The Football Factory here in Toronto, and watched one of the most exciting football matches I have been a witness to. The second Women’s Olympic football semi final between the United States and Canada was an epic match. The result, well that didn’t quite turn out the way most of my Canadian readers would have wanted. But what took place on that most famous of pitches in the Manchester suburb of Trafford was what was football is all about.
You had it all, two strong teams who are traditional rivals at everything, one team trying to keep its dominance, the other trying to break into the elite. You had two star players who are both chasing an all time scoring record. An individual performance that is worthy of being mentioned in the same breathe, as the great male performances in the game. Controversy through out (I’ll get to that later), and a last second winner in the 121st minute.
The Canadians had the lead three times during the game. All three goals being scored by the incomparable Christine Sinclair, who for my money rubber stamped the fact that she is the best Women’s footballer on earth right now. Only to have each goal answered by a strong and relentless American side who proved why they are ranked number one in the world. They for the most part controlled possession, and created more chances. Truth be told they could have scored 6.
I would be a fool to not speak on the controversy surrounding the game so here’s my two cents. That might have been one of the worst reffing jobs I’ve even seen in football…period, and I’ve watched a lot of football. However the free kick call on Canadian keeper Erin McCloed was technically right. If she is judged to have been holding on to the ball too long, the ref can award a free kick. However the issue here in two fold, 1) When to apply the rule, and 2) The consistency of application of the rule.
In all the years I’ve watched the game, both men’s and women’s. I have NEVER seen a ref award a free kick for what can be considered time wasting. The usual practice is to card the keeper and get on with it. So if there is someone out there, with a better sight line as to why the free kick was given in this instance. Please reply to this post and let me know. As for consistency, American kepper Hope Solo held the ball for just as long on several occasions. Why was a free kick not awarded to Canada in these instances? These are questions and thoughts that may never get a solid answer, as the referee does not need to explain her actions in an Olympic setting. But as I mentioned above controversy, is a part of the game.
However it should overshadow the excellent performance from both teams, who truly left everything on the pitch, and provided the world a football spectacle that will not be soon forgotten. There was heart, determination, passion, excellent tactics, great goals and drama by the bucket load.
To our ladies, there is nothing to be ashamed of…nothing to be sorry about. You left it all in Manchester and that’s all we could have asked. Now it time to lift your chins and get ready for France, Bronze is yours, now go take it.