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June 30, 2012
U.S. Women edge Canada 2-1 in last game before Olympics

Amy Rodriguez closed out the U.S. Women’s pre-Olympic campaign with the 2-1 game-winner against Canada Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Amy Rodriguez closed out the U.S. Women’s pre-Olympic campaign with the 2-1 game-winner against Canada Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
SANDY, Utah—It was far from their most dominant performance of the year, but the U.S. Women’s National Team did what they had to in order to close out their pre-Olympic tune-up tour with a 2-1 win over Canada Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Amy Rodriguez netted the game-winner in the 85th minute. All the rest of the scoring came from Canada, including a first-half own goal by defender Carmelina Moscato and 1-1 equalizer from Melissa Tancredi. The win extended the USA’s unbeaten streak over Canada to 26 games.

Although strike partners Alex Morgan(17 goals in 14 games) and Abby Wambach (20 goals in 22 games) have been scoring at a historic pace, midfielder Megan Rapinoe was by far the most dangerous US player on the field throughout the match. In the first half, she kept the Canada defense scrambling with dangerous runs down the right side and cutback passes, and her well-placed 15th-minute free kick led to the only US goal of the period. Rapinoe lofted a ball from high on the right side into the six-yard box between ‘keeper Erin McLeod and Moscato. Moscato tried to volley the ball away with her left foot, but instead sent it into her own net.

Although the US continued to dominate possession, Canada’s organized defense and McLeod’s solid play kept the Canucks within a goal. And in stoppage time, they appeared ready to equalize on their first dangerous attack of the game. Christine Sinclair teed up a shot from the top of the arc that nutmegged her defender but was deflected on its way toward the goal, sending goalkeeper Hope Solo sprawling to the lower right corner just ahead of Kaylyn Kyle. Replays indicated that the ball passed at least partially over the line, but play continued, and Morgan almost doubled the U.S. lead off the ensuing distribution. Morgan took the ball into the Canadian penalty area, cut back to shake a pair of defenders, then fired the ball toward the empty net, only to see defender Lauren Sesselman clear it off the line.

Morgan’s game was cut short in the 49th minute, when she went down holding her right leg after a 50-50 challenge. Although she left the field under her own power, she was immediately replaced by Amy Rodriguez. When play restarted, Rapinoe once again took control of the U.S. attack, dribbling down the left side before squaring a ball across the goalmouth for Wambach, who crashed the near post ahead of the defense but could not make contact.

Canada’s attacks remained few, but dangerous, and Tancredi was able to level the score in the 57th minute. Sinclair threaded the ball into the top left corner of the box for Tancredi, who easily outran defender Heather Mitts – a halftime sub for starter Amy LePeilbet—and beat Solo one-on-one from the top corner of the six-yard box with a rising shot that cracked off the bottom of the bar and in.

The match was chippy almost from the outset, and by the final 25 minutes, when the 95-degree temperatures were starting to take their toll on both squads, bodies started to fly. In the 67th minute, Canada defender Candace Chapman decked Wambach off the ball in the penalty area, resulting in a delayed yellow card but no pk. And two minutes later, a Canada foul outside the box led to another free kick, which Rapinoe sent low into the six-yard box where it was cleared out by Moscato.

Rodriguez finally out the game away for the U.S. in the 85th minute, off yet another play started by Rapinoe, who served the ball into the six-yard box from well up the left flank. Wambach took the pass with her back to the goal and two defenders closing in, then backheeled the ball to Rodriguez for the short-range finish.

In stoppage time, Canada-born Sydney Leroux almost upped the U.S. lead to 3-1, sending an artful 19-yard shot dipping toward the upper right corner, but McLeod tipped it away.

The WNT roars into the Olympic Games with a 14-1-1 record in 2012, having outscored their opponents 68-8.

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