Cal at the Olympics: Alex Morgan a Key Part of USA-Canada Soccer Rivalry

Former Cal star scored the winning goal against Canada in 2012 Games, setting the stage for Monday's semifinal match
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It’s unfortunate that the United States’ semifinal women’s soccer game against Canada at the Tokyo Olympics is at a time when most people on the West Coast will be in bed, because it promises to be a classic. And former Cal star Alex Morgan is an important part of the USA-Canada rivalry.

The USA-Canada match will begin at 1 a.m. Monday Pacific time (4 a.m. Eastern time, 5 p.m. in Tokyo), so only Sunday night insomniacs in the United States will see the drama play out live.

As is the case this year, USA and Canada faced each other in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The Americans won that game 4-3 when Morgan scored a stoppage-time goal just before the match was to headed to a penalty-kick shootout.

Video of that goal;

The Canadians were angry afterward, complaining about several calls late in the game that went against them, including one that led to an Abby Wambach penalty kick that tied the game with 10 minutes left in regulation.

The Business Insider referenced a Toronto Star story that reported these postgame reactions from Canadian players:

Forward Melissa Tancredi: “I couldn’t believe what happened. That was our game. That was our win. And it was just taken away."

Christine Sinclair, who had all three of Canada's goals: “We feel like we didn’t lose, we feel like it was taken from us. It’s a shame in a game like that that was so important, the ref decided the result before it started.”

The United State went on to win the gold medal, beating Japan 2-1 in the 2012 Olympics title game. 

Here's what Morgan said in 2016 about that 2012 game against Canada:

But that was five years ago, and she has a different take on that 2012 match heading into this year's confrontation with Canada.

”2012 was a long time ago,” Morgan said this week, according to The Sporting News. “We’ve played them every year since then pretty much. And we know them so well. Obviously, a lot of their players play in the NWSL alongside us — opponents, teammates. We’re ready to play them.”

Alex Morgan. Photo by Erik Williams, USA TODAY Sports

Alex Morgan. Photo by Erik Williams, USA TODAY Sports

But the Canadians, who took the bronze medal in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, probably remember the 2012 contest well.

The current U.S. Olympic team has seven holdovers from its 2012 squad, and four Canadians who played in 2012 are on this year’s team. One of the returning players for Canada is Christine Sinclair, who had all three goals for Canada against the U.S. in 2012 and has 187 international goals, the most by any player – man or woman – in international soccer history. She was also one of the players who complained about the referee in 2012.

Christine Sinclair. Photo by Soobum Im, USA TODAY Sports

Christine Sinclair. Photo by Soobum Im, USA TODAY Sports

The stakes are similar this time, and both teams advanced to the semifinals with penalty-kick-shootout victories in the quarterfinals, with the USA getting past The Netherlands and Canada eliminating Brazil.

The Americans have scored eight goals in their four games in these Olympics, while the Canadians have scored just four.

And this will be the first time the two neighboring countries have met in an Olympic Games knock-out round match since that 2012 matchup.

Canada’s most recent win against the Americans was in March 2001 in a friendly competition. The United States’ all-time record against the Canadians is 51-3-7.

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Cover photo of Alex Morgan is by Erik Williams, USA Today

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Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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