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September 17, 2011
U.S. Women tie Canada 1-1

Abby Wambach scored the lone U.S. goal against Canada, on a 10th-minute penalty kick.
Abby Wambach scored the lone U.S. goal against Canada, on a 10th-minute penalty kick.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
KANSAS CITY, Kan.—If the U.S. Women needed any reminders that next year’s CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament will not be the cakewalk it once was, they needed to look no farther than Saturday night’s 1-1 draw with Canada in front of a boisterous crowd at Livestrong Sporting Park.

The opening match of the USA’s two-game post World Cup “Celebration Tour” was an even-handed affair, especially in the second half. The U.S. were at their best before the intermission, and took a 1-0 lead on Abby Wambach’s 10th minute penalty kick. Melissa Tancredi scored Canada’s first goal under new head coach John Herdman shortly before halftime, and the teams sparred evenly through the final 45 minutes.

Wambach’s spot kick developed off of one of the USA’s most dangerous chances from the run of play. Heather O’Reilly mounted a blistering solo breakaway into the right side of the penalty area, only to have her point-blank shot saved by goalkeeper Erin McLeod. The rebound popped into the center of the six-yard box, where Wambach was sliding in for a follow-up. The ball bounced off Wambach’s foot and the arm of defender Lauren Sesselmann for the penalty, which Wambach slipped into the left side of the net while McLeod dove right.

Tancredi, who already had sent netminder Hope Solo diving to the base of the left post for a save earlier in the half, leveled the score in the 42nd minute. Kelly Parker launched a ball over the U.S. defense for Tancredi, who outran defender Christie Rampone into the upper right corner of the penalty area, then pulled up and beat Solo to the far side from 17 yards.

Amy Rodriguez launched a number of U.S. attacks from the unfamiliar position of left midfield, forcing McLeod to make a couple of solid near post saves before the intermission. And in the wake of Tancredi’s equalizer, Lauren Cheney had a solid chance to restore the U.S. lead, but her long shot was just off target.

Second-half substitutes Tobin Heath, who replaced Rapinoe after halftime, and Alex Morgan, who came on for Wambach in the 56th, did a lot to energize the U.S. attack. But at the same time, Herdman was packing his lineup – even the front line – with defenders to keep the U.S. attack at bay.

Still, the second half was not without opportunities for the U.S.A. In the 59th minute, Morgan beat Canada’s Rhian Wilkinson into the box for a ball from Heath, forcing McLeod to make a save. O’Reilly started a promising sequence in the 67th, with a ball in from just beyond the right edge of the penalty area. The initial pass deflected off two Canada defenders before reaching Rodriguez near the six-yard box. Her shot was blocked out for a corner kick, which in turn produced an on-goal shot from Cheney.

Two minutes later, Morgan chested down a ball from Cheney and got off a shot through a crowd of defenders, and in the 72nd she put a shot into the right outside netting.

For the most part, however, the packed Canada defense were up to the challenge, and even came close to snatching a win in the 90th minute. Carli Lloyd turned the ball over just outside of the U.S. penalty area, and Chelsea Stewart brought it into the box. She had an open shot, but opted instead to pass left for Sesselmann, who missed the target.

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