LIVEBLOG: Team USA Women’s Soccer Semifinals Vs. Canada

Liveblogging the game here!  Match has just kicked off, USA retains possession first.  Team USA has never failed to make the gold medal match.

Lineups:

Team USA

G – 1 Hope Solo
D – Rachel Buehler
D – 3 Christie Rampone
D – 6 Amy LePeilbet
D – Kelley O’Hara
M – 17 Tobin Heath
M – 15 Megan Rapinoe
M – 10 Carli Lloyd
F – 12 Lauren Cheney
F – 13 Alex Morgan
F – 14 Abby Wambach

Canada

G – Erin McLeod
D – 4 Carmelina Moscato
D – Rhian Wilkinson
D – Marie-Eve Nault
D – 10 Lauren Sesselmann
M – 13 Sophie Schmidt
M – Diana Matheson
M – Desiree Scott
F – 12 Christine Sinclair
F – 14 Melissa Tancredi
F – Jonelle Filigno

4′ – Megan Rapinoe played the ball into the right corner and fired a nice cross that was in danger of going in the goal, but Lauren Cheney was too tied up to put in a score. Rapinoe sent another cross in but it was reclaimed by Canada.

7′ – Alex Morgan had a chance to put in a shot, but the ball was sent out for a corner. Wambach headed the ball out off a Canadian, so a second corner is in the offing.

8′ – Rapinoe’s second corner is cleared.

11′ – Tancredi took a strong run down the left side on a counterattack, but was overwhelmed by USA defenders.

12′ – Tancredi makes another run but the ball is cleared for a corner. US clears ball to the other side for another corner.

13′ – Second corner clears. This is the’ first real action in on the US side of the field this whole match.

18′ – Ball is changing hands but no real work being done getting into the penalty areas. Rapinoe just took a shot from past the 18′ line but was wide to the top left of the box.

20′ – Rampone called for shoving, so Canada takes a free kick near the baseline. The ball floated dangerously in front of goal before it was cleared by Rampone.

20′ – Solo finally puts her hands on the ball, corralling a loose shot from Canada before it threatens the goal.

21′ – Sinclair scores one-on-one in front of the box against Solo after dancing around defense. First goal allowed by Team USA in seven matches against Canada.

26′ – Oh my, Sophie Schmidt placed perfectly on a header by the USA Goal, but so is Hope Solo. Crucial save. US goes downfield and O’Hara takes shot on goal from the baseline, saved by McLeod.

28′- Rapinoe waits for a call that never comes on an apparent foul, then gets the ball back after Wambach forces it to her, then draws a foul. Free kick for USA deflected back to Rapinoe, then lost on throw-in.

30′ – Rapinoe free kick in prime placement to left of Canada’s goal, backheaded by Morgan and just wide.

33′- LePeilbet is all over the field, playing stingy defense and drawing a foul in Canadian territory. Rapinoe puts yet another great long pass into the box for a Wambach header, but it goes wide and she’s called for hands on the back anyway.

36′ – Morgan crosses left to Wambach in front of the box, header wide.

38′ – Heath and Morgan showing awesome footwork in the penalty area, cross goes wide to Rapinoe, Cheney’s shot is just short.

41′ – Rapinoe free kick straight into McLeod’s hands.

42′ – O’Hara gears up for a shot but is blocked by a diving Desiree Scott.

44′ – Cheney gets free in front of the 18′ and fires a shot, wide left.

HALFTIME

49′ – After a wasted free kick by Rapinoe, Heath steals the ball, gets it to Rapinoe who puts the ball in to Wambach with a good look at goal, but Wambach’s volley sails over the goal.

50′ – Wambach goes down hard on a foul, setting up a corner kick which USA fails to convert.

52′ – USA is playing very aggressively on the ball, keeping the attack on Canada’s side of the field and in front of goal.

53′ – Team USA aggression pays off! Rapinoe’s corner gets credit for the goal though it looked like it bounced off a Canadian player in front of Rachel Buehler. Just squeaks in for the equalizer.

58′ – Wambach and Morgan circling like “sharks” as the announcers call them, McLeod saves a goal.

59′ – Rapinoe playing double duty today, playing defense in front of a vulnerable US goal, with the clearance.

60′ – YC – 11 Desiree Scott

62′ – Solo comes out past the 18′ on a fast break by Canada with the clearance.

 67′ – Substitution Canada: Faligno Out, Kaylyn Kyle in

68′ – Canada leads 2-1, header by Sinclair.

70′ – Megan Rapinoe with the magic foot again!  Brings the ball just inside the 18′, crosses off the left post and the ball rolls in over the line near the right. Fantastic, fantastic clutch play by Rapinoe today. Tied 2-2.

72′ – Sinclair is just insane today. Header to the near post, LePeilbet leaves way too early and Solo was in no position for the save. Hat trick for Sinclair. Canada 3-2.

76′ – Substitution USA: LePeilbet Out, LeRoux in.

76′ – USA Corner straight to McLeod, but she holds the ball too long and USA gets a free kick.

78′ – USA draws Canada into a handball in the penalty box on the free kick!  Wambach will take the shot.

80′ – GOAL USA!  Wambach converts. Tied 3-3.

81′ – Morgan goes down in the box, looks like a penalty but USA settles for a corner kick. Rapinoe tries a long kick, but it sails overhead.

82′ – Kyle overlooks Sinclair open at center, shoots on target but right to Solo for the save.

84′ – Morgan gets free and looks to have the winning cross to Wambach, but Abby is JUST wide of the goal with a sliding shot to the right. She wants that one back.

86′ – Tancredi trying to get into it with Rapinoe, but we have a “talk to the hand” moment. Rapinoe in full battle mode.

87′ – Morgan on the right side this time, gets fancy with the footwork and almost side kicks one in, McLeod is there though.

88′  – Schmidt beat multiple defenders and almost scores the winning goal but Solo in position for a great kick save. Canada fails to convert the corner.

90′ – Morgan’s shot on goal wide left. Three minutes stoppage time.

90′ +3′:  USA corner fails as time expires. Going into extra time.

Full Time

Extra Time, 91′: Canada opens with possession but gives it up immediately. Rapinoe moves it up and launches a shot, over the goal.

99′ – Wambach’s header just too weak, right to McLeod on a scoring threatening chance.

103′ – Matheson’s free kick for Canada clears the penalty area and out the back for a USA goal kick.

104′ – Buehler tackles Sinclair and clears a scoring threat, Canada’s corner.

105′ – Solo brings the ball out herself, living on the edge, but pushes it up to the attacking Americans who put a free kick into a scrum of players in front of goal before McLeod snags it.

End of Extra Time 1.

106′ – Canada honors the age-old sportsmanship tactic of kicking the ball out when an opponent is injured, but they certainly didn’t have to while on the attack there. Rachel Buehler was down on the ground. USA returns the favor and sends it right back to McLeod. One of my favorite traditions in sports.

SUBSTITUTION USA:  Buehler Out, Sauerbrunn In

110′ – Rapinoe about to take USA’s 12th corner.

112′ – Schmidt is off the field right now with a lower leg injury. Wambach made contact with her competing for a ball. No substitution just yet.

113′ – McLeod comes to the front of the box and corrals a deep shot from USA for the save. The Americans are keeping the ball on Canada’s half of the field, playing to a tiring Canadian squad. Morgan falls in the box, but no penalty is called. The referees will let this game go unless there’s a blatant violation.1

114′ – Scott also off the field for now. Painful to play this long, but nobody is complaining. This is for an Olympic medal.

116′ – Solo brings ithe Canadian heat.n a a free kick for a save, starts the counter-attack which culminates with a Morgan cross JUST missing Heather O’Reilly in front of goal.

117′ – USA scrapping for the ball, Morgan dances into the penalty box and crosses but the ball floats aimlessly in front of goal with no American in the area.

118′ – Sinclair brings the ball on a run but into the teeth of the US defense, the ball gets back to Morgan wide left, who sends a clean cross into Wambach who puts a header JUST too high, off the crossbar.

120’+ – US Defense feeling the Canadian heat, but the defenders pressure the ball out of bounds.

120’+ NO NEED FOR PENALTY KICKS!  ALEX MORGAN WITH A BEAUTIFUL WINNING GOAL SECONDS BEFORE TIME EXPIRES!  USA WINS 4-3! Morgan breaks the hearts of willing suitors and Canadians everywhere with that winner. This game was an all-time classic. USA advances to the finals to get vengeance over Japan for last year’s World Cup final.

2012 Summer Olympics – Day 1: New Names and Old Faces

Day One of the 2012 London Olympics has come and gone and we’ve already seen some incredible last-second finishes, suspense, surprise and incredible feats of accuracy and athleticism. Here’s a synopsis of what we saw today. Please bear with me as I’ll pass on talking about stuff like weightlifting, air rifle and table tennis, which you’re welcome to check out if you’re interested on NBC’s website, http://www.nbcolympics.com.

Actually…

Table Tennis

I caught this on TV earlier and I think it’s worth mentioning. Ariel Hsing, a 16-year-old daughter of Chinese and Taiwanese immigrants, made it to the second round of the table tennis tournament. This is a girl who calls Bill Gates and Warren Buffet “Uncle Bill” and “Uncle Warren” and plays ping-pong at Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meetings. That’s mind-boggling. Anyway, read more about the story here, all credit to NBC’s online writers.

Now for the good stuff:

Swimming

Men’s 400m Individual Medley Final

Probably the worst-kept secret in America is now finally out in the open (thank you, tape-delay NBC broadcasts), and the world knows Ryan Lochte has finally established himself among swimming’s elite, handily beating Michael Phelps and six other swimmers for the men’s 400m individual medley gold medal. Lochte set himself up to win with a stellar 100m backstroke – which is his best stroke – but won with a phenomenal breaststroke. By the time he was finishing the freestyle, he was in no danger of losing the gold. Lochte is the fifth-straight American male swimmer to win this event.

First, let’s not knock Lochte for swimming collegiately for the Florida Gators after moving South from Rochester, NY. He’s an SEC man, and that’s good enough. And did you know he’s part Cuban? But to his credit, this isn’t that huge of a surprise. Lochte, who is only about to turn 28, has been a name to watch since the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, where he helped the USA win gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay (WITH Phelps) and won silver in the 200m individual medley. He followed that up by winning bronze in the 200m and 400m individual medleys, individual gold in the 200m backstroke and repeating gold in the 4x200m team free relay in world record fashion.

Let’s also not knock Michael Phelps for finishing a human fourth place by a handful of $5 footlongs. But this was an event he didn’t want to swim this time around, anyway. Arguably his best stroke – butterfly – was the first leg, and he’s only been training on this event for a matter of months, as opposed to Lochte’s obsessive four years of training. Oh, and by the way, as of today he only has 16 medals to his name. Was the all-time iconic performance in Beijing not enough to satiate our need for hero-worship?

Lochte will have more opportunities to win medals, competing in his best event, the 200m back, as well as the 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley. He’ll likely swim relay for the USA, too. Phelps still has the 100m and 200m fly, 200m individual medley 4x100m and 4×200 free relays and the 4x100m medley relays to go. He’ll have swum every event he won in Beijing except for the 200m free.

Which team are you on: Team Ryan or Team Michael?

Women’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay Final

Natalie Coughlin saw the sun set with a bronze tint on her Olympic career as the US women finished bronze in the 4x100m free. Coughlin earned the quickest time on the US team in the prelims but was passed over for the final relay team, though her earlier swim earned her whatever medal the final team won. Instead, she watched as the next wave of swimming stars – Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy, Lia Neal and Allison Schmitt – kept stride with Australia until the final lap, during which they were also passed by the Dutch by less than half a second.

Coughlin joins Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson with 12 medals, the most all-time by an American female Olympian. There’s a slight chance she could compete in 2016 in Rio, but it seems unlikely.

Women’s 400m Individual Medley Final

The USA performed well in the medleys today, as Elizabeth Beisel, only 19 years old, finished a distant second for the silver medal behind a world record performance by China’s Ye Shiwen. American Caitlin Leverenz was also in the final. Beisel faltered early in the butterfly but regained the lead during the breaststroke, only to see Shiwen power past her in the freestyle. Beisel finished with a time of 4:31.27, fractions of a second under the American record. Beisel is the only American Olympian from Rhode Island competing in London.

Men’s 400m Freestyle Final

It was a great day for swimmers from Rochester. In what may be his final Olympics, Peter Vanderkaay snagged the bronze in the men’s 400m free. Vanderkaay had previously won an individual bronze in Beijing and was a part of those golden 4x200m relays in 2004 and 2008.

Preliminaries

American female swimmer Dana Vollmer – also from upstate New York – set an Olympic Record in the 100m fly with a time of 56.36, and Texan Claire Donahue also made it into final with a 57.42. Four-time Olympic medalist Brendan Hansen barely sneaked into the men’s 100m breaststroke final, finishing sixth in his heat but qualifying eighth overall.

Beach Volleyball

Women

Misty May and Kerri Walsh are back! The dynamic duo that once was and almost wasn’t has reunited for a third and final run at Olympic gold in the women’s beach volleyball event.

Now both married (May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings), the greatest force in their sport’s history will operate as the No. 3 seed in a pairing that seemed finished after Beijing. Walsh Jennings, under the assumption that May-Treanor was done competing, asked Nicole Branagh to prepare to play in London as her partner. It wasn’t until May-Treanor woke crying one morning that she realized she wanted to compete one last time, so she initiated the conversation with Walsh Jennings, who then had the unpleasant task of informing Branagh.

The world benefited from the decision, however, and today the duo debuted against No. 22 Australian pairing Natalie Cook and Tamsin Hinchley. Three of the four athletes – Cook, May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings – are all gold medalists. It was a vigorous match throughout, with the Americans taking the first set 21-18 after trading points several times with the Aussies. Team USA seemed beatable, even though coming into the match they had NEVER LOST A SINGLE SET in Olympic play. It remained that way, as another back-and-forth set culminated with an absolutely incredible series of volleys. May-Treanor pulled several digs from the brink of scoring including an acrobatic left-handed dive, then fired into a push by Hinchley to clinch the match, 21-19. They are now 15-0 in Olympic play, winning all 30 sets.

The other US pairing of April Ross and Jen Kessy play Sunday.

Men

Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibb had less of a struggle in their opening match Saturday, defeating South Africa in straight sets, 21-11, 21-10. Gibb, a cancer survivor, led most of the statistical categories. The pair is the No. 2 ranked American team behind Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers, who open play tomorrow.

Soccer

The US Women shut out Colombia today, 3-0, with goals by Carli Lloyd, Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe. You know the latter two as the Pia Sundhage played around with the lineup a bit to start the game today, replacing Shannon Boxx who was injured with Lloyd and starting Heather O’Reilly and Heather Mitts. Wambach’s goal was her sixth Olympic goal, which is the most by an American woman in history.

The game was chippy throughout, and that continued after the match off the pitch when goalkeeper Hope Solo sent a couple of snide comments Brandi Chastain’s way via Twitter. Chastain – an all-time great defender in her own right – is a commentator for the women’s games and offered some criticism of the US defense, which Solo didn’t take a  liking to. But let’s let bygones be bygones – the US is in the quarterfinals.

Women’s Basketball

What a dominant showing by Team USA against Croatia, at least in the closing quarter of the game. Croatia, not considered a relative powerhouse by any means, stuck with the Americans, who struggled to find shots and hit the glass on offense early. The lead was within single digits early in the fourth quarter before USA went on a run and won, 81-56.

A lot has been made of whether the current men’s roster would take out the Dream Team from 1992 (for that matter, would they beat the 1996 team?), but goodness, the women’s roster is incredibly stacked as well. Think of the consensus best players in the country in women’s basketball for the last several years. Got em? Chances are they’re in this list of women on Team USA: Seimone Augustus, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Candace Parker, Tamika Catchings. Sylvia Fowles, Swin Cash and Lindsey Whalen were no slouches in their day, either.

The roster breakdown comprises six former UConn Lady Huskies, two Tennessee Lady Vols and two LSU Lady Tigers. Elite. Talent. Props also to Minnesota and Louisville for being represented.

Oh, and coaching maestro Geno Auriemma is in charge.

Men’s Gymnastics

If you like elite talent in your men’s gymnastics, you might be disappointed this time around. Many of the top competitors underperformed during the qualifying events, including huge slip ups by powerhouses China and Japan. Team USA is sitting in great position for a medal, perhaps gold, when the team finals take place on Monday.

There are some great stories among the men’s team, perhaps none more interesting than that of John Orozco, a kid from the inner-city Bronx who has endured socioeconomic struggles and battled serious injuries on his way to London.

Rowing

I actually really enjoy the Olympic rowing events, so I paid attention today as Team USA advanced to the finals of the men’s eight, an event dominated recently by Germany, and the US also put a boat into the women’s pair finals.

Archery

I know I posted previously, but a shout-out to the USA men’s archery team for clinching the first medal of the Games for us – a silver – and reminding me that even watching people shoot a bow and arrow at a target not only takes world-class precision and skill, but is also pretty entertaining when the chips are down.

TOMORROW’S SCHEDULE

I’ll post a schedule of events tomorrow morning!  Enjoy your evening!