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US defeats Canada to continue regional dominance

HOUSTON, Texas — The United States defeated Canada, 2-0 on Sunday at BBVA Compass Stadium to win the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament. Lindsey Horan and Tobin Heath scored in the second half for the U.S.

Horan opened the scoring in the 53rd minute, heading in a long ball from Becky Sauerbrunn over the head of on-rushing Canada goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe. Heath doubled the lead seven minutes later, finishing a low cross from 17-year-old Mallory Pugh in a carbon-copy goal of Friday’s semifinal and Olympic berth-clinching win over Trinidad and Tobago.

The match lived up to its billing of an “intense” rivalry, as the Canadians called it. Whether or not it was a “bloodbath,” as Hope Solo said USA-Canada games sometimes are, is up for debate. But without doubt, the match was a physical one, including a 15th-minute incident which saw U.S. defender Julie Johnston crash to the ground hard and come up grabbing her head after being pushed from behind by Canada forward Melissa Tancredi. Johnston would stand up on her own power and play the rest of the match.

Tancredi was also involved in an incident just before halftime in which she appeared to scissor-kick U.S. captain Carli Lloyd in the back in the penalty area. But Lloyd was called for a foul, the reason for which is unclear.

The U.S. women have won the last four CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournaments. Canada has not beaten the U.S. since March 11, 2001, a 15-year, 31-match unbeaten streak which includes 26 victories.

[MORE: Does CONCACAF qualifying system of cramming games need overhaul?]

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