Canada is not leaving the Rio Olympics without a medal in Olympic soccer. That’s the simplified version of what Christine Sinclair told her teammates after a 2-0 loss to Germany in Tuesday’s semi-final.
It was a heartbreaking loss, one that likely means the last chance Sinclair, and a number of her veteran teammates have at an Olympic gold medal. So close, yet so far, from Olympic glory for the second straight games.
But just like in London, they still have a chance at the podium, a chance to change the narrative from negative to positive. A bronze medal, at these Olympics, with this team, is certainly a massive accomplishment. It would put an exclamation point on what has already been an impressive showing in Rio for this Canadian team.
Just like it was four years ago in London, today will be about recovering for the Canadians. The loss to Germany was heartbreaking for different reasons than that infamous loss to the United States, but it hurt nonetheless.
It was France who Canada overcame in London to win Bronze, but today might just be a tougher task against the host Brazilians. Brazil has been loud and proud for the country all Olympics, and one can only expect that to continue in Sao Paulo.
This tournament has been a bit of an odd one for Brazil. They were very strong out of the gates, beating China 3-0 before crushing Olympic finalists Sweden 5-1. However, a loss against South Africa in their final group stage game seemed to derail their tournament.
They haven’t scored since, and needed penalty kicks to get past the Australians in the Quarterfinals. It was by that same fashion that they were eliminated in the semis, to the Swedish team who they decimated just a week earlier.
Putting a semi-final loss behind them should be far easier for the Brazilians, who will play in front of their home crowd in Rio. For the Canadians, a lot of that inspiration will have to come from within, just as it has all tournament.
The veterans on this team have shown their ability to rebound from a loss, they have a bronze medal back home to prove that. It will be the youngsters, however, those who doesn’t have an Olympic medal that can really make the difference today.
Kadeisha Buchanan has had a bit of a rough tournament between the suspension, the yellow cards and the brutal tackle against Germany. But a solid performance in a win today and all would be forgiven.
Janine Beckie has been a revelation for many this tournament, and undoubted Canada’s best player. She could cement her legacy at this tournament by scoring a goal in the bronze medal game.
For many of the veterans, this will be their last chance to play on the world stage, and that in itself should be a huge motivation. Diana Matheson, the hero of London, will be an interesting player to watch in this match. She was perhaps Canada’s best against Germany in the semi-finals, and stands to make an impact today.
This tournament has already been a positive story for the Canadian women’s national team. But today, they have a chance to give themselves a happy ending.