By Michael Lewis
LONDON - Angry and upset at their Olympic semifinal loss to the United States, the Canadian women are ready to vent their frustration at someone - anyone. And France may bear the brunt of it.
Smarting from Monday's 4-3 defeat in which a disputed call led to an equalizing goal, the
"Maybe the referee will wear a Canadian jersey for this game," said Canada striker and captain Christine Sinclair, who scored three goals. "I wouldn't want to be the team that plays us next."
France, which fell to Japan 2-1 in their semifinal, will be Canada's third-place opponent on Thursday.
Sinclair, not particularly known for outbursts of emotions, had plenty to show after the U.S. loss.
"Obviously, we're disappointed and upset. . . . We feel like we didn't lose, we feel like it was taken from us. It's a shame in a game like that, which is so important that the ref decided the result before the game started."
It was a sentiment shared throughout the Canadian locker room.
"We feel like we got robbed in this game," goalkeeper Erin McLeod said. "The referee was very one-sided."
With Canada leading 3-2 and the game approaching the 80th minute, Pedersen ruled that McLeod took more than the allotted six seconds to release the ball.
"The referee said I had the ball for 10 seconds," McLeod said. "She, obviously, counted the time when I was on the ground with the ball. Once I got to my feet I calculate I only had the ball for five seconds.
"There was a warning from the linesman at the start of the second half. She said 'Don't delay the play too much' but it wasn't like a real warning. I have never known this to happen in a game before. It was an interesting decision; referees never make this kind of decision."
Manager John Herdman could not understand the call.
"Go and watch the replay of that decision," he said. "That'll be replaying that for the next 10 years in Canadian history."
The United States was awarded an indirect free kick at the top of the penalty area. Megan Rapinoe sent the kick into a defensive wall, where it hit the arm of Marie-Eve Nault, and Pedersen awarded the Americans a penalty kick. Abby Wambach converted to tie the match at 3-3 in the 80th minute.
Alex Morgan scored the winner three minutes into injury time after 120 minutes of play.
Sinclair gave her team the lead three times only to see the Americans beat Canada for the third time this year, and 44th time in 52 meetings.
"There is something about playing the best team in the world brings out the best from me," she said. "We did absolutely everything we could to get a result tonight."
Herdman praised the performance of Sinclair, who increased her career goal total to 143, tied with Wambach for second-most in women's history 15 behind Mia Hamm.
"To score three goals, that's a moment in Canadian sporting history," he said. "That's special. I don't know how many times she's done that before or how many other athletes have done something of that magnitude against all odds really."
"To come and score a hat-trick in the semifinals of the Olympic Games against their biggest rivals and to come away with nothing, there's just something not right about it."