TOKYO — Canada was left off the podium for the first time in nine days at the Tokyo Olympics, but the women’s soccer team guaranteed that won’t be the case on Friday.
Jessie Fleming scored on a 74th-minute penalty as the Canadians edged the United States — their longtime nemesis — 1-0 in a semifinal Monday at Ibaraki Kashima Stadium.
That means the Canadians will win their third straight Olympic medal. And this time, the colour won’t be bronze. Canada finished third both at the 2012 London Games and four years later in Rio de Janeiro, and the team had stated that this time they wanted an upgrade.
“Back-to-back bronzes, we were kind of sick of that,” team captain Christine Sinclair said. “And this team, I mean, wow, what a performance, what a fight. Just so proud of our team, and one more to go.”
Canada will face Sweden for gold on Friday at Tokyo’s Olympic stadium. Sweden advanced with a 1-0 win over Australia in the other semifinal.
The last time Canada and the United States met in Olympic soccer was in the semifinals of the London Games. In a wildly entertaining contest, the Americans won 4-3 in extra time despite a hat trick from Sinclair.
Canada’s previous victory over the Americans was a 3-0 decision at the Algarve Cup in March 2001. The Americans hold a decisive 51-4-7 record in head-to-head matches between the teams.
Canada dropped a 1-0 decision to the U.S. when the teams last met at the SheBelieves Cup in February.
“We’ve played the U.S. so many times but this time around we came into this tournament with the mindset of changing the colour of the medal. And we showed that. I’m just super proud of the team,” defender/midfielder Ashley Lawrence said.
Canada has a 5-14-4 record against Sweden, with the last result being a 1-0 loss in the round of 16 at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.