Rain impacts USWNT and Canada

Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports
Puddles severely impacted the USWNT and Canada's contest.

SAN DIEGO — Trinity Rodman received the ball in space and dribbled toward the box. No one was in her path except the goalie. As she gained pace with a few dribbles, she faced an unimaginable test: a puddle. The puddle dispossessed her, stopping her chance of getting a shot off. 

Moments like these were familiar in Wednesday evening’s CONCACAF W Gold Cup semi-final contest between the USWNT and Canada, one that was impacted by rain. The USWNT won in a penalty shootout. 

The weather forced teams to abandon their tactical plans within minutes. Players could not advance the ball on the ground, and dribbling was incredibly difficult. Team members were forced to capitalize on mistakes and hope for bounces in their favor. 

“Probably not, but those decisions are not my decisions, and if the referees make the decision that the game goes on, it’s our job to figure out how to win,” said USWNT head coach Twila Kilgore on whether the match should have been played.

Three minutes into the match, Canada’s Vanessa Gilles passed it backward towards goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, but it stopped due to water. Jaedyn Shaw intercepted the pass but sent a shot wide. 

Then, again, 21 minutes into the match, Gilles passed it backward, and Shaw took it away. This time Shaw would not be denied, giving the USWNT a 1-0 lead. She became the first USWNT player to score in their first four starts with the goal. 

The field dried as the rain stopped around halftime. But, chances were still minimal. Then, 81 minutes into the match, Jordyn Huitema hit a header over Emily Fox and past goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to tie the game. 

The match went into extra time, adding 30 minutes of slipping and sliding in the rain. The conditions had improved by then but were still not ideal. Nonetheless, 99 minutes into the match, Rose Lavelle headed a ball to Sophia Smith, who scored to put the USWNT ahead 2-1 in extra time.

But again, Canada responded. This time, in the last seconds of the match, Adriana Leon tied the match for them. A VAR check deemed that USWNT Naeher fouled Gilles, winning Leon the penalty to send the match to a penalty shootout.

There, Naeher made three saves and a penalty. Her excellent goalkeeping led the USWNT to victory.

“It’s not easy to make three saves and contribute to the goal tally,” Kilgore said. That speaks volumes about her mentality and how these types of experiences that she’s faced over and over again in her career lead absolute confidence for us in her ability to do these things.”

Next, the USWNT plays Brazil in the tournament’s finals. Brazil enters the match, having dominated its past two opponents, which could make it a difficult match for the USWNT.