The U.S. womens Olympic soccer team didn’t make it look pretty at Rio Tinto Stadium but they were good enough to defeat Canada 2-1, in front of 16,805 Saturday afternoon.
A Utah crowd eager to watch a high-octane attack led by Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan were sure to be somewhat disappointed as neither player scored in the final tuneup for the USA Olympic Team.
The stands were about 85 percent full on a 90-degree day and throngs wore T-shirts paying tribute to the one they call “Baby Horse.”
Yet Morgan injured her knee early in the second half and spent the rest of the game seated on the U.S. bench, with her right leg wrapped in ice.
The ice was more a precautionary measure with just 26 days before the Americans play their first Olympic Summer Games match.
An own goal opened the scoring for the Americans 15 minutes in, thanks to a wicked, swerving cross from Megan Rapinoe that the Canadians could not clear.
Retreating toward goal, Canada defender Carmelina Moscato awkwardly backpedaled and kicked the ball into her own side netting.
Just 12 minutes into the second, Canada tied the match on a goal from Melissa Tancredi who entered the match at halftime.
It wasn’t until about 15 minutes to play that the U.S. would again be the aggressor, shifting to a Barcelona-style 3-4-3 formation to press Canadian defenders and force turnovers.
The tactic worked, as Rapinoe — clearly the best American attacking player on this day — hit another beautiful swerving cross, leading to yet another bad Canada clearance in its own penalty area.
That bad clearance, coupled with a Canadian deflection led to a golden opportunity for substitute forward Amy Rodriguez — who came in for Morgan, ironically enough in the 51st minute — and Rodriguez slammed home the errant ball from a few yards out.
For the Americans who now head to London along with the Canadians it was a saved three points but a win nonetheless.
U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo didn’t have to work too hard in the match, saving just three shots. But all three were of the magnificent variety, including a sprawling, off-balance save from her wrong foot that she just kept off the goal line into first half injury time.
The Americans out-shot the Canadians 19-4 (9-3 on target) and the match play saw 21 fouls called and four yellow cards issued.
For more on the U.S. women’s soccer trip to Utah, stay tuned to ovalpike.com
Subscribe to the Utah Sports Examiner