And both teams played to form before a crowd of 11,292 at Dignity Health Sports Park, with the USA grabbing its ticket to Tokyo by overwhelming Mexico 4-0 behind goals from Rose Lavelle, Christen Press and two from Sam Mewis while Canada earned its berth by outlasting stubborn Costa Rica 1-0 on Jordyn Huitema's second-half score.
Coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller started Stephanie Labbe in goal behind a backline of Shelina Zadorsky, Kadeisha Buchanan and Sophie Schmidt. "I expect a tight match with some hard tackles, but I also expect some attractive play". Later in the half, Allysha Chapman earned Canada's second caution with an ill-timed slide just outside of Canada's penalty area, but the ensuing Costa Rican free kick was easily cleared by the Canadians. It was likely the only time in the history of global soccer such a call has ever been made. The United States hasn't lost on home soil since July 2017. They were both in Canada's starting 11 in four of the team's last five games of 2019.
The United States swept its group stage matches without allowing a goal. And they didn't have to rely on Sinclair to score. They haven't been scored on in this tournament.
There was plenty of rough stuff throughout the game, with several wild challenges from both sides, and a total of 30 fouls and four yellow cards.
By winning its group handily, eighth-ranked Canada avoided facing the United States in the semis.
In the first game, Canada struggled to solve a well-organized Costa Rican defense before Huitema's seventh goal of the tournament in the 72nd minute. For your security, we've sent a confirmation email to the address you entered.
There were some tense moments for Canada in the semifinal.
Second-half substitute Deanne Rose delivered a pass into the box for the Chilliwack, BC native, who hit the post initially, but Huitema was able to convert on the rebound. "We can now look forward to getting back on that podium". "When we got it in between there, we didn't have space enough to actually turn, or the pass was a little bit too slow so their centre back was stepping on to us".
"We have a great front line, we have a great midfield".
Mexico, ranked No. 26, made the field for the 2004 Olympics but has not been back since. We had room to play in behind, we got her in a few times... She's likely to see the field against the United States. Numerous players involved are teammates and adversaries at club level in NWSL, and they've played out some epic encounters over the years, most notably a 4-3 thriller at Old Trafford in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics.
Mexico's lone win against the United States came in qualifying for 2011 World Cup.
Canada is a two-time defending Olympic bronze medallist.
The Canadians are undefeated in 13 previous meetings with Costa Rica. Four years ago in Brazil, Canada beat the hosts for bronze. "I think it really showed tonight how fresh, versatile and hungry our team was as we just pushed until that last whistle".
While all signs point to an easy pathway to Tokyo, the Americans must not take their place for granted. But the ball took a lucky bounce right back to her foot, and Huitema netted her 13th worldwide goal. "And so I think that that's a good lesson to have learned", Press said.