USWNT defeat Canada on world’s largest slip-n-slide to advance to Concacaf W Gold Cup final

The United States women’s national team defeated Canada 3-1 on penalties (2-2 after extra time on Wednesday) in the Concacaf W Gold Cup amid horrid weather and field conditions at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego, California.

Rain poured down throughout the evening and during the day’s earlier Gold Cup semifinal that saw Brazil defeat Mexico 3-0. By the time the USWNT and Canada took the field it looked more like a swimming pool.

Fans, players, pundits and just about everyone else involved in the soccer sphere are furious with Concacaf for not postponing the game. The game went on even after the center referee paused the game in the first half to question if the game should be stopped.

From what we saw it seemed that a match commissioner informed the referee that the game must go on… for some reason.

USWNT vs Canada Gold Cup highlights

Forcing the players to compete in a high-stakes semifinal on a field that poor was reckless, dangerous and disgraceful from Concacaf. There’s no reason that top players should be playing in conditions that look like this.

There are no tactical takeaways from this game. Playing on a field that waterlogged is practically impossible. The game’s first goal was due to the swamp monster halting Vanessa Gilles’ pass back to the goalkeeper.

Jaedyn Shaw capitalized on the opportunity and opened the scoring in the 20th minute. 

No one from either side passed back to their goalkeeper for the rest of the game.

Both sides had the same approach to the game of boot that ball as hard as you can, pray for a favorable bounce or deflection and hope to be in scoring position.

The USWNT were lucky not to concede a penalty early in the second half when Tierna Davidson clearly fouled Jessie Fleming just inside the box. VAR didn’t even look at the call and the game continued.

The Americans played it safe rarely straying forward and clearing any ball that came too close to the penalty area during the second half. It didn’t make for a pretty game, but it was the USWNT’s best chance of seeing the game out.

Canada continued to fight and finally found an equalizer through Jordyn Huitema in the 82nd minute.

The USWNT had a great response in extra time and pressed forward looking for a go-ahead goal. In the 99th minute their efforts were rewarded as three substitutes combined for a goal. 

Emily Sonnett lofted a ball forward which Rose Lavelle flicked on with her head to get Sophia Smith 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper.

Smith, who has faced criticism and lost the starting striker job to Alex Morgan this Gold Cup, made no mistake with a perfect finish. This was Smith’s first goal of the tournament.

The USWNT defense tried to batten down the hatches for the remaining extra time but gave up a penalty in the final seconds. Some will point the blame at Smith who gave up possession near midfield which allowed Canada to swing a long cross into the box.

Alyssa Naeher came out to clear the ball but was late and ended up punching Gilles in the face. A lengthy VAR check awarded the penalty kick and Adriana Leon finished cooly to send the game to penalty kicks.

Naeher then proceeded to give an absolute masterclass in the penalty shootout as she saved THREE of Canada’s attempts and scored the USWNT’s third kick. Smith and Lindsey Horan also converted from the spot with the only USWNT miss being from youngster Korbin Albert.

Incredible stuff from Naeher to send the USWNT to the Gold Cup final vs. Brazil on Sunday.

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