Hope springs eternal for Canadian supporters, and once again on one of the biggest stages, two old foes meet once again: one having conquered all its foes so far, albeit unconvincingly; the other still seeking redemption from the year before. One already pre-determined for gold, the other is still looking for something. It certainly sounds like a fairy tale, but that's the story between Canada's and the US's women's football programs.
Canada is coming off their best performance so far at these 2012 Olympic Games so far, controlling and dominating the host Great Britain 2-0. This was in stark contrast to the shabby, flat 2-1 loss to the world champions Japan in the opening match -- how far they have come, in such a short time!But history will be weighing heavily against the Canadians, who haven't beaten the US in over 11 years, and were recently on the wrong end of a 2-1 decision against the Americans in Salt Lake before the Olympics.
Roster wise, one note for concern for the USA is the knock Alex Morgan picked up against the New Zealanders, but by all accounts should be ready to go. For Canada, Candace Chapman is still day-to-day, and isn't likely to be ready until the medal games are played. Lauren Sesselman will be tapped to continue her excellent play so far -- otherwise, there should be no drastic changes to be expected for either side.
For Canada, today's key word will be control. So far in the tournament, the US has not really asserted dominance except for when they were forced to by France: the Canadians must stamp their authority on the match first, and hold onto it for dear life if need be. Diana Matheson's role in the midfield today will be absolutely crucial, in keeping the ball away from Carli Lloyd and Lauren Cheney (the latter taking over from Shannon Boxx). Rhian Wilkinson's speed will also come in handy on the flanks, as well.
A win today will mean a guaranteed medal, with just the colour to be determined. Lose and they'll still play for a medal anyway. But when gold is on the line, and being it's the United States -- why not?
For too long, the Canadians have been under the shadow of the American program -- for today, the Canadians must find those wings that a certain Winnipeg band speak of, and start flying towards those distant roads, of glories that beckon to them. A home World Cup is coming in less than 3 years from now, and where better to slap away a few hands from the trophy and stake our claim, than on the green turf of one of football's greatest shrines?