The US women's soccer team is headed to the gold medal match after Monday's thrilling 4-3 win in extra time against Canada in the semifinals. The team trailed 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 in that match, but couldn't be put away as the US came back to tie the score each time.
Just seconds before the end of extra time, Alex Morgan got her head on a cross and put it into the back of the net for the decisive goal. It took away the uncertainty of penalties and put the US through to the finals.
Now the club must set their sight on Japan, the reigning World Cup Champions that defeated the US just over one year ago in improbable fashion. Homare Sawa tied the World Cup final in the 117th minute before Japan took the win on penalty kicks.
Redemption will certainly be on the minds of the United States Thursday as they look to avenge their 2011 defeat. Here are the keys to the gold medal match and redemption for the US.
Since last year's World Cup, Alex Morgan has grown into one of the top scorers in the sport. Just a substitute in Germany last year, the 23-year-old has quickly become one of the stars on the squad.
She scored twice in the opening match against France to help the US come back from a 2-0 deficit en route to a 4-2 win, but her best performance came against Canada. Her goal not only clinched the win in tremendous fashion, but she put pressure on the Canadian defense the entire game and set up her teammates countless times in the box. Expect her to have a great match against Japan.
Who is the biggest key to a gold medal for the US?
They Refuse to Lose
It sounds simple enough, but the United States really just can't be put away. They are 19-1-1 on the year and are never out of a match, no matter what the score.
They scored four consecutive goals to defeat France after a poor start and were relentless against Canada. Coming back on three separate occasions in the second half was remarkable. In extra time the US took over, but waited until the last possible moment to score the winning goal.
The US seems to play their best when backed against a wall, so even if Japan jumps out to an early lead, these women just can't lose.
Best Player in the World
Abby Wambach has become one of the top goal scorers in the history of women's soccer. It has come to the point where you can mark her down for a goal every game she plays. Thus far in the Olympics, that's exactly what she has done.
Her five goals in the five US games have given the club a consistent threat that not even Japan can contain. This year, Alex Morgan adds another dimension to the offensive attack meaning even more opportunities for Wambach. She won't disappoint on Thursday, expect at least one goal and a gold medal for the US.