The USA and Canada women's soccer teams may both have qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but the two rivals will undoubtedly be looking to come out on top in what promises to be an exciting encounter in Houston on Sunday.
The pair will contest the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying final ostensibly for pride, as by reaching this stage both are already assured a place in Rio.
Canada were the first to book their place as they ran out comfortable 3-1 winners over Costa Rica on Friday, while the United States thrashed Trinidad and Tobago 5-0 thanks to an Alex Morgan hat-trick.
Here are the viewing details you need to catch the showdown, and read on for a closer look at how both sides are shaping up:
Date: Sunday, February 21
Time: 5 p.m. ET
TV Info: NBCSN
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
The U.S. were rampant against Trinidad as Tobin Heath and Carli Lloyd got on the scoresheet amid Morgan's incredible third career hat-trick. Here are the highlights from their dominant win, per CONCACAF:
Morgan's trio of strikes represented an impressive milestone for the forward, per SportsCenter:
NBC's Jeff Kassouf hailed the 26-year-old's importance to the team:
Indeed, following the retirement of the legendary Abby Wambach, the primary goalscoring responsibility for the team rests on Morgan's shoulders, so if she can carry her form into the Olympics the USA will stand a strong chance of winning their fourth consecutive gold medal.
What will also provide great encouragement is the emergence of 17-year-old Mallory Pugh, who made her fifth appearance for the national side.
Pugh started the semi-final with Trinidad and provided the assist for Heath's goal with a low cross from the left. Sports reporter Caitlin Murray noted her impressive performance against Trinidad, while Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl highlighted her as one to watch in Rio:
With the likes of Pugh and Morgan Brian adding a youthful and energetic verve to the side, Canada will have a difficult time containing their opponents on Sunday.
Per Yahoo's Graham Watson, World Cup hero Carli Lloyd—whose goal was her 24th in 18 games—is anticipating an exciting clash: "I think it’s going to be a great game. I think you’ll see a lot of transition. I think both teams are going to go at one another, so it should be really good. We’ve got to be ready to play and take this one home."
Canada are also in good form having scored 24 goals in their last four outings, including the 3-1 win over Costa Rica. Christine Sinclair's second goal was a particular highlight:
The 32-year-old is steadily closing in on Wambach's international scoring record, per StatsCentre:
According to Fox Sports' Laura Vecsey, Canada coach John Herdman believes his side is ready to take the game to their rivals:
It’s what these girls were really looking forward to coming in here. This group is ready and hungry to take on the U.S. We’re going to give them one hell of a fight as we always do and they’re looking forward to. All Canadians look forward to it. We’re ready for the fight.
With both teams playing well and full of confidence, the two sides should produce an exciting encounter with goals galore.
In the last Olympics, the pair played out one of the best matches in recent memory, with the Americans emerging on top 4-3 in a semi-final clash. Though this match may not matter in terms of qualification, it's a safe bet both teams will be desperate to win.