‘We never want to lose to Canada’: U.S. players, media react to Canada’s win

Arash Madani joined Sportsnet Central to talk about Canada’s win over USA in Women’s Soccer, and how this represented a passing of the torch from Christine Sinclair to the next generation.

Team Canada defeated Team USA in the semifinal of the Olympic women’s soccer tournament on Monday, setting the stage for the Canadians to challenge for gold later this week.

Considering the dominance of the U.S. women’s national team over the past several years — not to mention, their 20-year win streak against Canada — the 1-0 outcome was a bit of a stunner for many watching the match.

Criticism lobbed at U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski’s tactics, as well post-game quotes from American players about their own lacklustre performance, are among the many takeaways from this closely-contested game that ended 1-0 thanks to a perfectly-executed penalty kick from Jessie Fleming in the 74th minute.

Here’s a roundup of reaction following the game from players, various U.S. news outlets, and from those around the game.

Notable post-game quotes

Rapinoe: Loss to Canada ‘a bitter one to swallow’
Following the game, veteran U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe blamed “too many errors” made by her club, saying, “Obviously we never want to lose to Canada.” Here’s her full quote, via ESPN:

“It’s terrible. We just didn’t have it today,” Rapinoe said after the match. “Just too many errors from us again. I felt like the space was there for us to play and we just couldn’t get into it, too many touches or, you know, an errant touch.

“That’s football. They got, I think, one shot on goal, a PK, and from what it sounds like it was a PK. So yeah, it’s a bitter one to swallow. Obviously we never want to lose to Canada. I don’t think I’ve ever lost to Canada.

“So it’s a bitter one. Obviously there’s still a lot to compete for. That’s what I told the girls and what we talked about in the huddle. It’s not the colour we want, but there’s still a medal on the line. That’s a huge thing and we want to win that game, but yeah, this is … this sucks. It sucks.”

Sinclair: ‘It’s nice to get a little revenge’
Canadian captain Christine Sinclair, who has led the national women’s team through triumph as well as heartbreak on the Olympic field, referenced the team’s loss to the Americans in extra time back in London 2012 — a controversial loss that still stings, thanks to some questionable calls by the referee ultimately affecting the game’s outcome.

“For those of us that were part of the 2012 team [Canada lost to the USWNT in the semifinal after extra time at the London Olympics], it’s nice to get a little revenge in an Olympic semifinal,” Sinclair said (quote also via ESPN).

“I was just sitting there thinking how proud I am of this team … It’s a very unique group. It’s a special group and I’m so proud to be a part of it.”

Sinclair was also pretty candid while talking about not going for bronze again:

“Back-to-back bronzes, we were kind of sick of that,” 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.”

Morgan: U.S. had freshest legs, but Canada had consistency
U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski was quick to rotate his roster with a long list of substitutions — something that brought in a steady stream of fresh legs but also provided stark difference in strategy from Canada, as noted by U.S. star forward Alex Morgan, via the Sporting News:

“There was a lot of rotation, so in a way I think we had the freshest legs of any team.

“But they [Canada] also had the consistency in the lineup. So that’s what you have to weigh in a tournament like this. It’s very different than a World Cup. There was more substitutions than there’s ever been. So it’s a completely different tournament to manage.”

What U.S. media outlets are saying

Sporting News: Lifeless attack in USWNT’s Olympic semifinal loss to Canada raises questions about coach Vlatko Andonovski’s lineups, tactics

Coaching his first major tournament, Andonovski approached the Olympics as though he were playing chess. Everyone else, though, was playing soccer. His constant player rotation left the team disjointed. Against the Netherlands and Canada in the knockout rounds, he subbed out his entire, three-person forward line. In neither of those games did the change produce a goal. – Michael DeCourcy, Sporting News

Yahoo! Sports: The USWNT fell into the same trap every World Cup winner trying to earn Olympic gold does

…their downfall had been coming, for weeks, maybe months, arguably for years. History tried to warn them. They ignored it.

No women’s soccer team has ever won a World Cup and Olympic gold back-to-back, and one reason often postulated is that success restrains evolution. Formulas that lead to trophies are retained, and trotted out again 13 months later, by which point stars have aged, opponents have caught on and tactics have become outdated. … They’d clung to past success, and hoped to recreate it. They couldn’t. – Henry Bushnell, Yahoo! Sports

The Guardian, U.S. edition: USA coach Vlatko Andonovski fiddled but his players burned at the Olympics

A team rich with talent could not establish any rhythm at these Games, and the Americans’ struggles culminated with a semi-final loss to Canada on Monday in which the US had ample time on the ball but few ideas in the final third – a criticism which haunted the team after its previous Olympic failure. – Jeff Kassouf, The Guardian

ESPN: USWNT devoid of chemistry as Olympic gold chance slips away with Canada defeat

Canada came out exactly as the USWNT should have expected. It was physical, gritty and sought to close down the spaces the USWNT loves to play in. Canada’s four-player diamond midfield especially managed to overrun and overwhelm the USWNT’s central trio. But the Americans also made it a lot easier for Canada. They were static in their off-the-ball movement and rarely found the space to create outlets; and when they did try to the move the ball, they did it sloppily. – Caitlin Murray, ESPN

Twitter reaction: Canada will ‘change the colour’ with Olympic final berth

Last fall, during her introductory press conference as Team Canada head coach, Bev Priestman made it clear that while Olympic bronze is an incredible achievement, it’s time to diversify the collection.

“A team like Canada should be on that podium. I do think we need to change the colour of the medal. Two bronzes [are] unbelievable and it’s a fantastic achievement, and credit to John [Herdman] and the staff and the players that achieved that. [But] to keep moving forward, we have to aim higher than that,” Priestman said.

That idea — to “change the colour” — became a bit of rallying cry for the Canadians. Here’s some reaction from those chiming on on Twitter following the game:

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