2012 Summer Olympics

2012 Olympic Games: How USA-Canada Soccer Match Changes the Sport

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06: Alex Morgan #13 of the United States celebrates with her team-mates after scoring the winning goal in extra time during the Women's Football Semi Final match between Canada and USA, on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Old Trafford on August 6, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images)
Stanley Chou/Getty Images
Dustin HullAnalyst IAugust 6, 2012

The USA women's soccer team will move on to the gold medal match of the 2012 Olympics having beaten Canada 4-3 in the second of two semifinal games.

But how the game was played, on top of the significance of it, is what will progress the sport of women's soccer for both countries.

What was so different about this game between the U.S. and their neighbors to the north? Maybe it was the constant determination, advanced skill set or extreme endurance that set it apart.

That could have indeed been the case, with what looked like two countries playing to win like their lives depended on it. This game also showed an advancement of overall play with how the women's game is not only increasing in talent and speed, but also in the constant persistence of the tired athletes late in the game.

The game itself, which went to the 122nd minute, was enough to make any casual soccer fan run around his or her living room in celebration over a goal or fall to their knees over a near miss.

The Olympics help bring that to the game with added attention due to the fact the players are representing their respected countries.

But how the games are played—how the one between USA and Canada was played—is what brands a mark on the game in the long-run.

Maybe it was the stars of these two teams that are taking this game to the next level and inspiring the youth of their countries.

There are plenty of players that have done just that, whether it's the power and greatness Abby Wambach has shown for the U.S. or the way Megan Rapinoe has become an electric and memorable member of Team USA.

Or perhaps it's Christine Sinclair, who completely dominated the game with a hat trick, or Alex Morgan, the athlete of the future for women's soccer who could have the most impact in the United States since Mia Hamm broke onto the scene.

Maybe it was the back-and-forth play, the drama that unfolded into what became the climax of all climaxes.

Sinclair put on one of the greatest shows in Olympic history, while Megan Rapinoe scored on a corner kick that many couldn't at first comprehend.

And then came the winning goal, in that 122nd minute, by the slumping (at least by her standards) Morgan.

She hadn't scored in three matches, but told NBC Sports Network that "As long as we friggin' score" it didn't matter how they won. So maybe it's teamwork. After all, Sinclair scored three goals, but her team still fell short.

There were bigger stars with more skill. There was a will to win that can't be matched. There was even anticipation and controversy, especially after Canada coach John Herdman's comments before the match.

It all created what will likely go down as the best team sports games of the London Olympics, something truly special for women's soccer.

But above all, the North American teams who competed have brought the game to new heights for those who could very well one day follow in their footsteps.

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