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United States beats Canada, wins Olympic Qualifying Tournament

Carli Lloyd scissored down in the box by Melissa Tancredi in the 1st half of USA's 2-0 win. Credit: Ray Escamilla

Carli Lloyd scissored down in the box by Melissa Tancredi in the 1st half of USA’s 2-0 win. Credit: Ray Escamilla

In a match in which Canada sprang some surprises in sitting Erin McLeod, Christine Sinclair, Diana Matheson and Sophie Schmidt while the United States went with a full strength squad, the US dominated start to finish in a 2-0 win. It was the thirty-first time in a row that Canada has failed to beat the United States.

A physical first half that saw neither team score was dominated by the United States, as Canada’s makeshift lineup was on the back foot nearly from the outset. The attacking impetus and control that Canada showed in its first four games was gone as Canada came increasingly under pressure over the course of the half.

Canada signaled their intent to get stuck in early on when Nichelle Prince chased a hesitant Hope Solo in the box and slid in, fouling Solo in the process, just as the keeper was able to get rid of the ball.

Prince and Melissa Tancredi were in the mix early and often, each getting whistled for fouls, but the only Canadian player to see yellow in the half was Josée Belanger for running over Lindsey Horan in the 20′.

The onslaught of USWNT opportunities began in the 14th minute when Meghan Klingenberg sent a cross into the box that Carli Lloyd headed wide of the far post. The two connected again in the 23rd minute with Lloyd missing the goal wide by inches.

In the 37th minute, Kelley O’Hara sent in a cross that forced Canadian keeper Stephanie Labbé to palm the ball over the net. Two minutes later, a scramble in the box looked to have resulted in a penalty for a Tancredi foul on Lloyd, but the ref ruled that it was Lloyd that committed the foul.

The United States came out in the second half continuing to attack the Canadians and were finally rewarded for their efforts in the 53rd minute when Becky Sauerbrunn, playing for the 100th time for the United States, sent a ball into the box that Lindsey Horan reached ahead of Labbé, knocking the ball into the back of the net.

Mallory Pugh nearly made it two just three minutes later, but bundled a cross just wide of the net. She made up for it in the 61st minute, however, turning Belanger, getting to the end line then dragging a ball back across the box for Tobin Heath who blasted it past Labbé.

The best chance for Canada came in the 72nd minute off of an Allysha Chapman cross that Tancredi headed on goal far post, but Solo was well positioned and pushed the ball wide.

When the final whistle blew, the Americans were once again Champions of Olympic Qualifying, conceding zero goals for the second Olympic Qualifying tournament in a row.

Next up for the United States is the She Believes Cup in April where they will face a stern test of where the team currently stands against France, Germany and England.

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