A year later, at the London Olympics, the U.S. women’s soccer team escaped with a near-miraculous 4-3 victory over Canada in Manchester. Judging from the way the two teams played, the Canadians had as much right to expect a victory as the Americans. For the duration of the regulation time, Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and friends found themselves playing catch-up to their northern neighbors, led by the brilliant Christine Sinclair of Canada who scored a hat trick. U.S. players had to rally three times to tie the score.
Then came overtime and until the 122nd minute, the score was tied at 3-3. In the 123rd minute, Morgan converted a perfect cross from Heather O’Reilly with a midair header that found the sweet spot in the net. It is no exaggeration to say that it was a header heard round America, if not the world.
So a repeat of the world cup showdown from a year ago awaits soccer lovers. The U.S. will meet Japan in the gold-medal match on August 9 at London’s fabled Wembley stadium.
Here’s my prediction: United States will beat Japan. The thrilling victory over Canada has given the mental edge to Wambach and company who will be riding it to a hard-fought victory against their nemesis. Also significant will be the “avenger” role that will animate every U.S. player to help them redeem the haunting defeat at the world cup a year ago. (It is possible that LeBron James and friends may, just may, face the Russians for the gold in basketball in this Olympics, and avenge the infamous loss at the Munich Olympics 40 years ago). The force seems to be with the U.S. Women’s soccer team in the London Olympics. There is no other way to explain the victory against the Canadians.