While this space is generally dedicated to Real Salt Lake, it feels like a challenge to talk about anything other than the United States’ dramatic victory over rival Canada in the semifinals of the 2012 London Olympics.
For whatever reason, it just wouldn’t feel right to have a major international soccer tournament without a stunning finish from the Red, White and Blue.
That moment arrived on Monday afternoon, and it came courtesy of 23-year-old star Alex Morgan.
Morgan, who hadn’t found the back of the net since the U.S. defeated France 4-2 in the opening match of the Games on July 25, deftly hit an arcing header over Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod in the dying seconds of stoppage in extra time.
It was yet another example of the resiliency of an American team that just doesn’t know how to quit.
“For some reason we like to make things dramatic,” said U.S. forward Abby Wambach. “This team doesn’t give up. This is what we’re about. I’m so thankful that people kept believing in us, that we kept believing in ourselves. We stuck with it until the end.”
Morgan’s dramatic goal, served up by the foot of Heather O’Reilly, will undoubtedly be long remembered, even amongst the already storied history of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team.
And while it undoubtedly deserves to remembered right up there with Wambach’s header goal against Brazil in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany, and Brandi Chastain’s winning penalty kick against China in the 1999 World Cup final in Pasadena, Calif., the goal itself doesn’t really tell the true story of the match or this generation of American players.
The true story of this group of United States players is one of resiliency. Of not quitting, no matter the situation.
Trailing not just once, but on three different occasions on Monday, the United States dug deep and fought back.
“This team has got some heart and some guts,” midfielder Megan Rapinoe tweeted after the match. “Never say die. Ever.”
Finding a way to win has been a trademark for the United States, and never more so on the biggest stages of international competition.
“I’m still in shock; we’re in the final,” said Morgan. “Now we’re up against Japan, and we really watched that rematch.”
And now, thanks to the former University of California star, they have just that.
After playing three matches in eight days in two different countries, Real Salt Lake finally got a change of pace for a few days.
Returning home after a 1-0 loss to Colorado, Salt Lake boss Jason Kreis elected to give his players nearly three days off to recover from the grueling schedule.
“You just do what you can. You talk to the players. You can see that a few guys needed a rest,” Kreis said. “We’ve just got to be mindful of that as we go through the last part of the season. We’ve had some experience before where we’ve worn our guys out so to speak and then we get to the playoffs and we don’t have enough energy to do what it takes.”
You can follow Justin Johnson on Twitter at: @jjohnson801 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.