- The Washington Times - Monday, August 2, 2021

For the second straight Olympics, the U.S. women’s soccer team missed out on the chance to win a gold medal, losing to Canada 1-0 on Monday in the semifinal.

The loss marked the U.S.’ first loss to Canada since 2001, with Jessie Fleming converting a penalty kick in the 75th minute to send Canada to the final. The U.S. will face Australia in the third-place game after Sweden won the other semifinal.

With the U.S. trailing by a goal in the 86th minute, U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd’s shot hit the crossbar.

“That wasn’t good enough,” said Lloyd, the oldest player on the U.S. team at 39 and playing in what was likely her last major tournament with the national team.

The U.S. lost starting goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher when she came down awkwardly after going up for the ball around the 20th minute. Trainers attended to her for some five minutes as backup Adrianna Franch warmed up on the sideline.

Naeher tried to stay in the game, but was replaced by Franch in the 30th minute.

Since women’s soccer was added to the Olympics in 1996, the U.S. has competed for the gold medal in all but the two most recent Games. In 2016, America lost to Sweden in the quarterfinals. The U.S. has won gold in 1996, 2004, 2008 and 2012 before the two most recent earlier exits.

The loss also ends America’s hopes to become the first nation to follow a World Cup win with an Olympics gold medal.

“Not our best game, not our best tournament,” midfielder Megan Rapinoe said, via NBC. “It’s a bitter one to swallow, obviously we don’t want to lose to Canada. We just couldn’t figure it out on the field. I don’t know exactly what it was but, yeah, but this certainly not one of our better performances.”

The U.S. had a rocky start to the Olympics, losing to Sweden 3-0 to end a 44-game unbeaten run. The squad bounced back in the group stage and progressed to the semifinal, but Canada — a team that won bronze the past two Games — will now have a chance at gold.

In the two teams’ previous 61 matches, the U.S. had lost to Canada only 10 times. Carli Lloyd had a chance in the 86th minute to level the match, but her header hit the crossbar, ending the U.S. chances.

“I think this is my first loss ever to Canada,” Rapinoe said. “It sucks not to be able to compete for a gold medal, which is what we wanted. Not a great performance, either. That’s the most frustrating thing.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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