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Washington Spirit at the Olympics: USWNT stunned, Sweden goes for gold

Kelley O’Hara started as the U.S. fell to Canada, while Julia Roddar has a shot at gold

USA v Canada: Women’s Football Semifinal - Olympics: Day 10 Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Yesterday’s Olympic semifinals featured three Washington Spirit players, but only one got good news. The USWNT fell to Canada in a major upset given the history between the teams, while Sweden managed to ride some good luck to get past Australia. That means all three Spirit Olympians remaining in the tournament have a shot at a medal, but only Julia Roddar will get a chance at bringing home a gold.

Here’s how it went for the group:

Kelley O’Hara

O’Hara started and played 80 minutes at right back for the USWNT, and was heavily involved in their bright start to the game as an overlapping option on the right flank. The U.S. took advantage of space on the touchline afforded by Canada’s diamond 442 set-up, and O’Hara had three cross attempts from near the endline inside the first 10 minutes of the game.

However, following a long stoppage for Alyssa Naeher’s worrisome knee injury, the U.S. lost their edge, and had trouble finding O’Hara from there. She picked up a yellow card in the 32nd minute, and still had some fairly spicy challenges after that as one of the players most interested in answering Canada’s physical approach.

Vlatko Andonovski subbed O’Hara off as part of a late-game move to a 334 formation after Canada had taken the lead through Jessie Fleming’s 75th minute penalty kick. She didn’t look particularly fatigued on a day where most players looked drained by the 30th minute, but it would not be a shock if there’s more rotation for the bronze medal game, which starts (like every other game of this entire brutal tournament) less than 72 hours after the semifinal ended.

Emily Sonnett

Sonnett was in uniform, but did not play in this one. Just as it seems fair to suspect that O’Hara may be rotated to avoid overuse in the bronze medal game, there’s good reason to expect Sonnett to end up rotating in. It’s unclear where that might be, though, as O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, Crystal Dunn, and Julie Ertz have all had to log serious minutes in positions Sonnett can play.

The stunning U.S. loss, which is just the fourth win for Canada in 62 meetings between the teams, sends the USWNT to the bronze medal game. They’ll wrap up their Olympic tournament against Australia in Kashima on Thursday in a (huge dramatic sigh) 4:00am Eastern kickoff.

Julia Roddar

Sweden left Roddar out of their 18 as they beat Australia 1-0 in Yokohama. It was a fortunate victory for the Swedes, who had their shakiest performance of the tournament, and really should have trailed 1-0 at halftime after Sam Kerr had a goal inexplicably called back. Sweden got themselves in front on a strange play thanks in part to a looping deflection, and Fridolina Rolfö’s goal ended up being all the difference.

It seems unlikely that Roddar will be rotated in for Sweden in the final, but given how exhausted the teams are at this point (it’ll be five games in 16 days for the teams in the gold medal game), it’s something Peter Gerhardsson will have to consider. Amanda Ilestedt’s first half knock wasn’t enough to put her out of this game, but it could have consequences for the final, and that would open the door for Roddar to be in the 18.

Sweden, as you can probably figure out if you’ve read this far into the article, moves on to face Canada in the gold medal game Friday, with the game taking place at the National Stadium in Tokyo at 8:00am Eastern.

Saori Takarada

Takarada and Japan were knocked out in the quarterfinal by Roddar and Sweden. Per Richie Burke before this weekend’s loss in Chicago, Takarada was flying back to the DMV over this past weekend, and the plan was for her to get reacclimated to the time change and begin training this week.

The Spirit will very likely take their time with Takarada after the physical and emotional grind of this tournament. It’s possible that she’s in uniform this weekend against Portland.