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Megan Rapinoe, the USA Women's National Team super-talented midfielder and only out player, has had a spectacular Olympics run.

All the US women have played well as a team, but in the two games the WNT had to come back after falling behind, Rapinoe led the way.

She was on fire in the first two games, against France and Colombia, having a foot in five of her team's seven goals -- two assists and a long ball to the assister on another goal against France, and a goal and an assist against Colombia.

Pinoe played OK in the next two games, when the USA scored three goals and allowed none, and then had her best game ever in the thrilling semifinal against Canada.

In the second half, she scored the USA's first two goals, each one spectacular and each time tying Canada/Christine Sinclair, and set up, in a way, the third tying goal.

More, below.

Rapinoe's first goal was, fittingly, an Olimpico -- scored directly off a corner kick at the 54th minute.

Rapinoe is a great crosser, and takes all of the WNT's corners and direct kicks that are anywhere close to the goal area.

She said she wasn't trying to score, but the ball bounced once and went over the goal line before the Canadian goalie and defenders could stop it:

Sinclair scored on a header 13 minutes later, to put the Canadians ahead 2-1.

Pinoe responded, THREE minutes later, with what she calls the best goal of her life, a powerball from the right side of the box, off a long Rapinoeish cross from Kelly O'Hara:

Others have called that shot a rocket, a missile, a rifle -- whatever, it was one the hardest balls struck from such an angle into the goal ever in a major women's soccer game.

Sinclair then scored AGAIN, off a header three minutes later.

Rapinoe had an indirect role in the WNT's third goal, a penalty kick by Abby Wambach after an unusual, but justifiable, delay of game call on the Canadian goal-keeper that resulted in an indirect kick inside the box at the 80th minute.

Rapinoe hit it hard, and an also justifiable hand ball was called. Wambach hit her PK in off the same left post Rapinoe had hit 10 minutes earlier.

Alex Morgan's last-minute goal was fantastically dramatic ending to one of the greatest high-stakes national-team soccer games ever.

All the goals of this most amazing game are here:

The WNT has yet to get anywhere near London -- first two games in Glasgow, one in Newcastle, and two at Old Trafford in Manchester.

More than 80,000 are expected at the new Wembley Stadium tomorrow to see the WNT play Japan, who beat them on penalty kicks in last year's World Cup final.

The game may well not finish as excitingly as the Canada game, and will probably not feature seven goals.

But it will be our last chance to see these particular marvelous US soccer players play at the highest level for their country.

They know how to play the beautiful game with panache and power, and deserve the largest audience possible tomorrow at 2:45 EDT.

P.S. For more about Pinoe, check out her Tumblr, lots of fan love and great photos/gifs there.

And here's why she's a great soccer player, from someone who knows soccer.

Finally, have some fun with Pinoe and Lori Lindsey on an afternoon off in Portugal:

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

    by devtob on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 07:05:26 PM PDT

  •  I'm just too depressed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, Wufacta

    that the men not only didn't qualify, but friggin Mexico is in the final gold medal match. And Honduras beat Spain and took Brazil to the limit....but I'm happy for the US women, and watched every game. And I admire Megan a lot and find her a joy to watch on the field.  

    •  As I understand it, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      devtob

      the men's game is much more developed, so it's harder for a country like the US which traditionally is not a big football country to just break into the top leagues. But not so much for the womens game? The US has been dominant since the beginning in the womens game since the interest gap has not disfavored the US historically. I don't know much about soccer but that's how it seems to be.

  •  Sinclair and Rapinoe both went (5+ / 0-)

    to the University of Portland.  They've got a good program on the bluff.

  •  Rapinoe's first two goals ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, HudsonValleyMark, crose

    ... were spectacular. What might go missed is what she did to set up the last-second goal -- the one where Alex Morgan scored with about 34 seconds left to go in the game.

    If you watch the full game, you'll see Rapinoe win the ball away from the Canadians. She successfully passed the ball to a teammate. Unfortunately, the Americans turned the ball over again, so Rapinoe -- now half-way down the field in only a few seconds -- wins the ball again for the Americans and passes it successfully to her teammate for the cross to Alex Morgan.

    Unfortunately, most videos only show the last time she won the ball from the Canadians in that sequence.

    She's the best player in the world, and she may be the best defender on the American team! Go USA Women!

    I would tip you, but the man took away my tips.

    by Tortmaster on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 07:24:11 PM PDT

    •  You're right (0+ / 0-)

      Pinoe had a foot in every goal of this magnificent game.

      Rewatching the replay, a Canadian player headed the ball up about 40 yards from her goal in the center, it landed near Pinoe, she half-volleyed a short pass to Wambach, who sent a perfect long ground pass to Heather O'Reilly on the right.

      O'Reilly's first touch on that ball was the cross to Morgan.  

      A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

      by devtob on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 07:53:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  awesome team, awesome player (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob

    And awesome match. So many brilliant moments on both sides -- not only on offense, despite the score.

  •  Also it's true that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob

    I feel sympathetic to the Canadian team. Although it was not the American team's fault in any way, the refereeing was bizarre and the Canadian women can justly feel cheated to some degree. Both teams deserved better out of the refs. Some of the refereeing at these Olympics has been terrible.

    •  yeah, but the US men have been jobbed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      devtob, crose

      so many times I don't feel much sympathy when a US team gets a call, men or womenl. The Canadian goalie was time wasting; she had been warned not to. And soccer is a game where a call can change a game, I don't know any other psort where the refs hold so much sway, but as Shep Messing says, no one pays money to see the referee...

    •  McCloud took 15 seconds to punt the ball (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      devtob

      I'm not saying it was a normal call, but it IS IN THE RULES, she took nearly thrice as long as one is allowed before punting. It probably was the soccer equivalent of calling a balk in the ninth inning of a tied World Series game. I would agree the refereeing for both the men and women has been terribly inconsistent. That being said, the Canadians can't say there wasn't an infraction, just that the referee made a chicken-shit call.

  •   with all due respect.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alefnot

        To all my American friends,

        I have been watching football (soccer) for over 50 years and  that call(time wasting) is never, ever, ever given without a warning, yellow card, etc.... even that is extremely rare and especially not in an important game at such a critical time....

         The Canadians were flat out robbed, and even American players and coaches admit they were baffled by a call they had never seen....

          As if the heavily-underdog Canucks needed that after playing their hearts and guts out.... what a travesty and I would say the same if the Americans or any other country was
    robbed by bad, incompetent or biased officiating.... as for the handball, the ref refused to call an even more flagrant handball
    in the American box about 20 minutes before that....

         I love your country and good luck to the U.S. but this is one game they did not deserve to win...

    •  As an American (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sluggahjells, devtob

      and long time follower of the sport, and fan of the WNT, I have to agree. I've never ever seen that call given at any level -- always a warning followed by a card. That said, it was technically correct, which cannot be said of the handball. That was never hand to ball.

      Still and all, you guys look good for the future. You got a terrible draw in the last World Cup and a terrible call here, but you're hosting the next World Cup and you've got some good young talent in Filigno, Schmidt, Zurrer. Looking forward to a real rivalry here.

      As for the USWNT, they weren't the refs. It's great to see that this team, and individual players like Megan Rapinoe, is picking up fans. This game is evolving quickly, and so are the USWNT. Used to be only Heather O'Reilly on the right knew how to play the wing, now we have Rapinoe on the left as well. With Morgan and Cheney the attack is more creative than ever. Defense could use some sorting out, though. Good luck to them in the gold medal match! (And good luck to the Nadeshiko as well.)

      •   thanks for that... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        devtob

            I've been a long-time admirer of the US team, watching them mow down our game Canuck ladies time after time over the decades (I think they've manged three wins and 5 draws in 50 games, and no victories in two decades.... which is why that call hurt even more... it was probably our best and only chance to beat you in a  major competition... I don't mind losing when it's a fair fight, and I'm not saying they absolutely would have won, but a 1-goal lead with less then 10 minutes to go looked pretty good....

           We do have some good girls coming up, but nothing like the football factory south of the border.... France is also a rising power (they outshot us 25-4 today in the bronze medal game and were clearly the better team)... I feel especially bad for Christine Sinclair, one of the three best players in the world, always having to suck up another loss in a Canadian jersey..  For once, I thought, let her win, just this once Lord... But, no the soccer gods and FIFA incompetence  said otherwise... That being said, congratulations (gulp) on the gold medal, but this one is gonna hurt for a long,long, long time....

    •  disagree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      devtob

      The people complaining about that stuff are missing the context that the Canadian goalie was warned multiple times, and that Abby Wambach was counting the seconds aloud in earshot of the official.  She was trying to speed up the game just as the goalie was trying to slow it down (somehow it's never contested that the goalie really was breaking the rules, even though it's "never called"), so it was some pretty savvy soccer playing by the Americans.

      •   disagree.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        devtob

           The Canadian goalie says she received an unofficial warning at the half, not several times.... I have been watching football for over 50 years
        and have never, ever, ever seen that call...   I don't blame the Americans for gamesmanship and putting pressure on the ref, but the unprecedented, baffling, outrageous call cost the Canadians their best chance to beat the best team in the world in the second most important tournament in women's soccer..... There was less then 10 minutes to go, and the game was evenly contested at that point, unlike the second part of overtime when Canadian legs were tiring (less depth on the roster)....

            As for time wasting, why was Abby Wambach allowed to spot the ball three times before taking the penalty.... is that not a double standard? I am the first to agree the US is the best team in the world, which is why that call hurt all the more... you guys win all the time, while that might have been our only chance to ever play for gold.....

  •  "Unusual but justifiable"? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sluggahjells

    Try "bullshit".

    It was a bullshit call that robbed a team of a victory that they damn well earned.

    If it helps you to cheer on your team knowing that they wouldn't have won except for a ref making a stupid call that gave them an undeserved goal, knock yourself out.

    •  You don't know they wouldn't have won (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      devtob

      There were still more than 10 minutes plus stoppage time remaining. The superior fitness of the Americans was about to be a factor as it was in the overtime when the Americans repeatedly played long balls down the wing to Morgan on the left side and she was able to drive the end line and cut the ball back repeatedly shredding the Canadian defense. And it isn't like Wambach hasn't scored clutch goals in the final moments of matches to tie games (see Brazil, 2011 WC quarterfinal). Tactically the game changed when the Americans went 3-4-3 ( a formation I like as a coach) when they brought on Sydney LaRoux after Sinclair's third goal.

      Maybe the Canadians might have won had not the referee made that call, but to say w/ absolute certainty that the call cost them the game is not accurate. There are no guarantees in football. Just ask Manchester United. With their rivals, Manchester City trailing QPR, 2-1, in the last match of the EPL season, City needed a win or Man. U. would win the Premiership. City pumped in two goals in about 3 minutes in stoppage time, turning a loss and a second place finish into a championship and big egg on the face of Man. U.

      •   maybe.... maybe not (0+ / 0-)

            Thanks for your views on this, and I am the first to admit the Americans have a superior team..... my point is that that call is never,ever,ever made without first giving one or more warnings (the Canadian goalie says she was unofficially warned at the half), or at most a yellow card, certainly not a free kick right outside the box.... I'm not saying they would have won, but there would have been less then 10 minutes to go with a 1-goal lead, and the game was much more of an even contest at that point (I agree the Americans dominated the second overtime.... as for the handball, I have often seen those overlooked when the player is unable to get out of the way of a free kick, unlike the flagrant American handball about 10 minutes before in the American box with the imbecilic Norwegian ref looking on and refusing to call a much-more obvious penalty with Canada leading  at the time by one goal....

           This call was a travesty, unjust, ill-considered, unnecessary and unprecedented, as admitted by the American players and coaches after the game.....  what really hurts is that this the game when Canada had a chance  and deserved to to beat the best team in the world, and were robbed of a chance to compete for gold by a biased or incompetent call...

  •  Apples and oranges (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob

    The men's Olympic soccer is for U-23 players with each team allowed three overage players. OTOH, the Olympics have no restrictions on women's players.

    The USSF had trouble getting teams to release players for the Olympic qualifying tournament. Unlike World Cup qualifiers and other official FIFA international match dates, teams are not required to release players for the Olympics.

    Injuries also hurt the team, but I think hubris and bad coaching were instrumental in the US not even making out of group play. They lost to Canada and tied El Salvador, 3-3, allowing a goal at the death of injury time. The US team lacked major tactical awareness. Their coach insisted on the antiquated 4-3-3 system which puts a premium on possession but the Americans never valued possession football, opting instead to impatiently attempt difficult passes and struggling to get back on defense. The goalkeeping was atrocious and the coaches erred by allowing Bill Hamid to play goal and allow 2 soft goals after he was injured. And then he was replaced, but the damage was done.

    About the only bright spots were the play of Joe Corona and Terrence Boyd.

    OTOH, the US women are one of the top sides in women's football. They have excelled at the Olympics, never missing the final. But for a soft "golden goal" in OT against Norway in 2000, the US WNT might have entered today's match as four-time defending gold medalist instead of two-time returning Olympics champion.

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