You again?  Canada and the United States to face off in controversial 2012 women’s Olympic football semi-final

You again? Canada and the United States to face off in controversial 2012 women’s Olympic football semi-final

Canada and the United States will face off once again in the women’s soccer semifinals at the Olympic Games.

There are still some familiar faces on both sides of the London 2012 Games showdown which saw the United States win 4-3 after overtime despite a hat trick from Canadian superstar Christine Sinclair. This match is widely known for the calls made (and not made) by the referee.

“It really made a difference to people,” said Dr. Clare Rustad, Olympic soccer analyst and former member of Canada’s National Women’s Team.

“I think what stands out for people is an amazing individual performance from Christine Sinclair, probably the best game she’s ever played, interesting referee decisions – and I will say I think they end by going both ways, ”said Rustad, who is now a family doctor in British Columbia.

“It will be interesting to see how they deal with this go-around against them.”

Heading into the game on Monday (4 a.m. ET,, here’s a look at both teams’ performance at the Tokyo Olympics so far and some key players to watch in the semifinals.

Find live broadcasts, must-see videos, breaking news and more in a perfect Olympic Games package. Following Team Canada has never been easier or more exciting.

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Penalty kicks required in quarter-final matches

Both teams needed shots on goal in their respective quarter-finals to qualify for an Olympic podium.

Canada beat Brazil 4-3 on the spot after the game ended 0-0 after extra time. Vanessa Gilles converted the decisive shot and goalkeeper Stéphanie Labbé sealed the victory with a two-handed diving save on Brazilian defender Rafaelle.

The Canadians are looking for their third consecutive podium after winning bronze at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

WATCH | Labbé saves the day as Canada defeats Brazil:

Vanessa Giles scored on Canada’s fifth kick before Stephanie Labbé made the winning save to send the Canadians to the soccer semifinals. 1:23

The United States won 4-2 on penalties against the Netherlands – a rematch of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup – after extra time they were unable to resolve a 2-2 stalemate.

The Americans have won back-to-back World Cups and three of the last four Olympic gold medals, but missed the podium in Rio five years ago. This tournament saw the United States abandon their opener 3-0 against Sweden and draw 0-0 against Australia; these two teams will face off in the second semi-final on Monday at 7 a.m. ET.

WATCH | Megan Rapinoe seals the victory of the United States over the Netherlands:

US goalie Alyssa Naeher made two penalty saves to push the United States past the Netherlands and into a semi-final clash against Canada. 1:45

“The United States didn’t look as sharp as it did, say, looking at the [2019] World Cup or even before these Olympics, ”said retired Canadian goalie Karina LeBlanc The extra hour host Brendan Dunlop on Friday.

“But I don’t want the Canadiens to think we have this in the bag, because there is one thing that Diana [Matheson] and myself I know the Americans always show up for Canada, ”said LeBlanc, referring to her longtime teammate who also appeared on CBC Sports.

Depth in the front, vulnerable in the back

Despite the vulnerabilities the United States has shown in these Games, Rustad said there is still a multitude of talent up front.

“It’s almost comical sometimes when they bring submarines up front, and they bring [Megan] Rapinoe in a submarine or Alex Morgan in a submarine, ”she said.

But there are areas that Canada could tap into – particularly the right side of US defense, Rustad said. She pointed to forward Nichelle Prince’s dynamic play as a potential key to breaking through the back line.

“If they flip her over to the left side of the park and have her run against Kelley O’Hara and Abby Dahlkemper on the right side of the US defense, I think she can break through,” said Rustad.

Canadian forward Nichelle Prince could play a pivotal role in Monday’s semi-final. (Silvia Izquierdo / The Associated Press)

Matheson, who scored the bronze medal goal at the London Olympics in 2012, also highlighted the depth of American substitutes including Rapinoe, Morgan and Christen Press.

“These aren’t three bad players to line up towards the end of the game,” Matheson told Dunlop. “It’s going to be a fight … it’s going to be a street fight.

“I am delighted that we are facing them with them.”

WATCH | Relive Canada’s bronze medal goal at the 2012 Olympics:

Diana Matheson’s bronze medal-winning goal against France at the 2012 Olympics gave Canada its first Olympic soccer medal since 1936. 1:57

Watch out for the offside line

While Rustad commented that the American midfielder has not played as a unit consistently at these Games, she warned they could still pose a problem for the Canadians.

“Don’t give them time on the ball, don’t give them time to lift their heads and look for that run behind because players like Christen Press up front will burn you,” said Rustad.

Despite American inconsistencies throughout the tournament, Christen Press remains a deadly offensive force for the team. (Ayaka Naito / AFP / Getty Images)

The US attack was also hampered by offside calls throughout the tournament, Rustad added, which Canadian defenders can take advantage of.

“As long as they’re all communicating, all keeping a good line, I think they’ll be able to block a lot of the American attack because they’re just not paying attention to the offside line,” she declared.

And, of course, there’s Sinclair, whose 186 most important international goals of all time. While playing a different style than she did in that 2012 semifinal, the Canadian captain can still play a decisive role in this game.

“I think [Canada is] much more creative and there are a lot of youngsters who have come into this team which has been very beneficial, “said Rustad.” And although they haven’t always scored goals and always been creative up front, I think we’ve seen enough previews to say it’s coming.

“They’re a beatable American team for sure.”

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