Aug 6, 2012; Manchester , United Kingdom; USA forward (13) Alex Morgan heads the winning goal in extra time against Canada in the semi finals during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Old Trafford. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
45 seconds left, penalties are all but a certainty. Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan make their way into the box. Heather O'Reilly puts the ball in...and an eruption of cheers. Alex Morgan scores arguably the most important goal of her career, setting up one of the most hyped rematches in soccer history; USWNT versus Japan, this time for Gold in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
This Olympic Final match between the US and Japan almost wasn't meant to be, as Canada, led by Christine Sinclair, was much the better side this afternoon. Shocking the USWNT in the early minutes of the match, Sinclair scored first, giving Canada a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute. An equalizer wouldn't come for the US Women until the 54th minute when Megan Rapinoe's cross found its way into Canada's net. The game did not stay level for very long, as Sinclair picked up her second goal of the match off a beautiful header in the 67th.
From here on, the goals would come fast and loose, with Rapinoe picking up the equalizer from range in the 70th to tie the match at two a piece. Sinclair wasn't done yet though. Just three minutes later, she picked up her hat trick, giving Canada a late 3-2 lead. Then something bizarre happened. The refferee of this match called Canadian keeper Erin McLeod on the old, never used six second rule (a goalkeeper is supposed to get rid of the ball within six seconds of picking it up), giving the the USWNT an indirect free kick right outside the box.
Rapinoe took the kick, and the ball hit the arm of one of the Canadian players, giving the USWNT a huge opportunity to equalize with a penalty shot. Abby Wambach took the PK and equalized the match at three a piece in the 80th, already making this fixture an instant classic. With the game all knotted up at three, the match went into extra time.
During the two fifteen minute extra time periods, each squad had ample opportunities to win the match, but this one looked destined to go to penalties, despite the fact that a women's Olympic soccer match had never come down to a penalty shootout. With three minutes of injury time added, it looked like history would be made. Instead, the unthinkable happened.
Had Canada won this match, Christine Sinclair easily would have been the MVP. Instead, Alex Morgan, with just 45 seconds left to play, picked the perfect time to end her goalless drought, scoring the game winner with a perfect header off a cross from Heather O'Reilly. Obviously, the fairytale ending is highly reminiscent of the USWNT's last second equalizer from Abby Wambach against Brazil in the 2011 World Cup. Morgan's is arguably the better goal, with it being the winner, but both matches will go down in history as some of the best soccer, men's or women's, ever played.
The stage is set, Wembley is ready. The USWNT will finally have a chance at revenge against Japan. On the line? The USWNT's third straight Gold Medal win at the Olympics and fourth overall. The match will kick off this Thursday at 2:45 p.m. ET live from Wembley Stadium on the NBC Sports Network. As always, the Final will be live tweeted on Twitter @tBGLIVE.