U.S. midfielder Lauren Cheney tries to fend off a tackle by Canada's… (Hussein Malla / Associated…)
MANCHESTER, England -- The U.S. hasn't missed a gold-medal game since women's soccer was added to the Olympic calendar in 1996. But that streak might expire in 45 minutes with the U.S. trailing Canada, 1-0, at halftime of a roughly played semifinal Monday.
Canada broke on top in the 22nd minute on Christine Sinclair's fourth goal on the tournament, which came at the end of a play set up nicely on passes by Marie-Even Nault and Melissa Tancredi.
Nault started the sequence by sending the ball into the 18-yard box for Tancredi, who nudged it ahead for Sinclair. The Canadian then made a nifty move to spin U.S. defender Kelley O'Hara around, leaving Sinclair with an open shot, which she buried into the upper left corner.
That ended Hope Solo's 368-minute scoreless streak in these Summer Games that started 15 minutes into the first game of group play.
Canada nearly doubled the score four minutes later, but Solo made a good save on a header from midfielder Sophie Schmidt.
Canada hasn't beaten the U.S. since the spring of 2001. But the Canadians showed they weren't going to be intimidated -- at least in the early going -- with Tancredi throwing Lauren Cheney to the turf at the opening whistle and Sinclair pushing Alex Morgan to the ground before the first minute had expired.
The U.S. had a chance at the equalizer in the 31st minute on a long free kick, but Morgan sent her leaping header wide of the net. Abby Wambach also missed the net on a diving header later in the half, minutes after she went over the back of defender Carmelina Moscato to drill a header right into the waiting arms of keeper Erin McLeod.
The Canadians, who can't hope to match the U.S. for speed, were particularly rough on Morgan, putting a body on her whenever they could in an effort to slow her down. But they also battered Wambach, with Tancredi taking her down with a open-field arm tackle at one point as Norwegian referee Christina Pedersen struggled to gain control of the match.
With Pedersen proving she's not afraid to call fouls, the Canadians' rough play nearly came back to haunt them several times with Megan Rapinoe and Christie Rampone proving deadly accurate on their free kicks.
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