The United States prevailed in a physical game against Canada on Sunday (Feb. 21) to win the Olympic qualifying tournament for countries from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
After a scoreless first half in which the Canadians were whistled for nine fouls and drew one yellow card, the U.S. women came out strong and scored twice in the second half.
Canada was stout on defense, especially early in the game, but could do little against Hope Solo and the American backline. The final: 2-0.
Both teams qualified for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Here are five oddities, curiosities or (possibly) interesting facts about the game and its participants:
Though much is made of the “fierce rivalry” between the North American neighbors, the Canadians hasn’t beaten the United States since March 11, 2001, when they took the opening game of the Algarve Cup 3-0. One of Canada’s goals was scored by Christine Sinclair, then 17.
Five players from the two teams are with the Portland Thorns of the National
Women’s Soccer League: Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, Meghan Klingenberg, Christine Sinclair, and Emily Sonnett.
Carli Lloyd failed to score for the first time in more than two months. It last happened on Dec. 16, when the United States lost 1-0 to China in Abby Wambach’s final game.
Canada, ranked No. 11 in the world, is the strongest team the U.S. women have faced since October, when they hosted Brazil (No. 7) in back-to-back games on the Victory Tour. The Americans played Brazil to a 1-1 draw on Oct. 21 in Seattle, then won 3-1 four days later in Orlando, Fla.
Otherwise, the United States hasn’t gone against a Top 15 team since the World Cup final.
Seventeen-year-old Mallory Pugh made her third consecutive start for the United States.
In a single month — she earned her first cap on Jan. 23 — the high schooler has gone from being almost unknown outside youth soccer circles to having an excellent shot at representing her country in the Olympics.