Olympics: Semifinals – An Epic USA Win Amidst Poor Refereeing. And, Japan Wins, Too.

[Just a short write-up. Highlight videos linked.]

The United States Women’s National Team battled back three times after Canada, via their captain Christine Sinclair, scored three go-ahead goals to send the two squad’s Olympic semifinal match into extra time where Alex Morgan ended her miniature goal-scoring drought and headed home the ‘winner in the waning seconds of added time.

But, subpar officiating by Norway’s Christina Pedersen overshadowed — and, at the same time, added to — the epic nature of this match. What will be most talked about is the bizarre 77th minute indirect free kick awarded to the United States for time-wasting on Canada’s goalkeeper Erin McLeod. (E.g., see this ProSoccerTalk.com post.) However, that decision was only the most obvious in a match that had a series of poor refereeing decision, most notably regarding fouls not called and cards not given to players on both teams. For more on the poor officiating, see this BigSoccer.com referee forum thread on the match. (Note: Expect a more detailed post on this topic in the next day or two.)

If you missed the USA/Canada match and have a qualifying cable/satellite subscription, you can watch it on-demand via NBCOlympics.com.

Also, some news stories specifically on the refereeing: “Canada coach Herdman upset with calls made by referee, says US got lucky to advance” (AP, via Washington Post); “Canadians: ‘We feel like we got robbed’ in loss to U.S. team” (USA Today);

In the earlier semifinal, Japan defeated France by 2 goals to 1, via a Yuki Ogimi goal that off a mishandled free kick grab by France’s goalkeeper, Sarah Bouhaddi, and a Mizuho Sakaguchi header, that was also off of a set piece play. France got a goal back late through substitute Eugenie Le Sommer and had a chance to equalize on a penalty kick minutes later, but on-field captain Elise Bussaglia directed her shot just wide of the right goalpost.

AND, SO IT SHALL BE — A rematch of the 2011 Women’s World Cup final in the Olympic Gold Medal match, between the United States and Japan, at not-so historic New Wembley Stadium on Thursday, August 9th at 2:45 p.m. EDT. Meanwhile, France and Canada will play for the Bronze Medal earlier in the day at 8:00 a.m. EDT.

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SEMIFINAL RESULTS (Monday, August 6th)

United States 4, Canada 3. (NBCOlympics.com highlights)
USA Goals: Rapinoe (54′, 70′), Wambach (80′ PK), Morgan (120+3′).
CAN Goals: Sinclair (22′, 67′, 73′).
See Also: London2012.com page, FIFA.com page, USA write-up, USA quote sheet, CAN write-up.

Japan 2, France 1. (NBCOlympics.com highlights)
JPN Goals: Ogimi (32′), Sakaguchi (49′)
FRA Goal: Le Sommer (76′).
See Also: London2012.com page, FIFA.com page.
Notes: France’s Bussaglia missed a potential equalizing penalty (77′ or 78′ mark).