USWNT suffer through horrific field conditions, wins in thrilling W Gold Cup semifinal

The United States Women’s National Team battled through horrid field conditions at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego during its CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup semifinal match against Canada on Wednesday night with a rain-soaked 2-2 draw, advancing to the final after winning 3-1 on penalty kicks in a thriller. 

They will play Brazil in the title game on Sunday evening. Brazil defeated Mexico 3-0 in the earlier semifinal match.

The Americans broke a scoreless tie in the 20th minute after Jaedyn Shaw scored after a Canadian defender had attempted to pass the ball back to her goalkeeper, but the ball died in the box well before reaching its target because of the waterlogged field.

Shaw was able to charge right to the ball and put a shot past Canadian keeper Kailen Sheridan, who was trying to reach the stalled ball. 

But the game took place under horrific conditions, as rain in Southern California soaked the field, which seemed to be dealing with some sort of issue with its drainage system as water pooled and impacted the movement of the ball. 

Pools of water were visible across the field and videos posted online clearly showed water splashing up as players attempted to run and kick the ball. 

Afterward, U.S. coach Twila Kilgore was asked whether the game should have been played.

“Probably not. But those decisions aren’t my decisions,” she said, according to the Associated Press. “If the referees make those decisions, and the game goes on, it’s our job to figure out how to win.

“Being able to adjust to any sort of conditions is always a part of it and it takes a certain mentality to do that.” Kilgore added. “We did that today and we’re not going to shy away from celebrating that because it’s not easy.”

Stadium grounds crew members attempted to try and mitigate the situation by attempting to push the water off the field. 

Jaedyn Shaw of the United States attempts a shot on goal in the first half against Canada during the 2024 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup semifinals. Getty Images

Social media users were quick to criticize the field conditions. 

“So dangerous!! Make the right call for player safety!” San Diego Wave FC coach Casey Stone fumed on X. 

“This is so insane. STOP THE MATCH,” Julie Foudy, a former USWNT member wrote. 

“Why isnt CONCACAF calling this match. Play it tmrw. Someone is going to get hurt,” she added. 

Jade Rose of Canada (left) and Trinity Rodman of the United States collide while chasing after the ball in the first half during the 2024 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup semifinals at Snapdragon Stadium. Getty Images

Samantha Coffey of the United States and Simi Awujo of Canada collide chasing after the ball in the first half during the 2024 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup semifinals at Snapdragon Stadium. Getty Images

“This USA-Canada Women’s Gold Cup Semi-Final is nuts, If this was a youth soccer match the pitch would be deemed unplayable,” another user on X wrote. 

“Why are the players being put in this situation? No chance these are safe playing conditions,” another former  USWNT player, Sam Mewis, wrote.

The Paramount+ broadcast did indicate that the referees had discussions at halftime about the field conditions, but play continues between the two North American squads.

Things were knotted up a 1-1 and headed into overtime, where the U.S. took the lead in the first half on a Sophia Smith goal.

ALYSSA NAEHER SAID “I’LL DO IT MYSELF!”She saves three PKs and converts her own PK to help give the USWNT the win over Canada 🇺🇸 ✅— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) March 7, 2024

The USWNT celebrated with Alyssa Naeher after her unreal goalkeeping in the penalty kick shootout.

USA midfielder Lindsey Horan (10) celebrates with USA goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher (1) after defeating Canada in the penalty kick shootout in the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup semifinalmatch at Snapdragon Stadium. Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports

But in the final seconds of stoppage time in the second half, USWNT goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was called for a controversial penalty after trying to defend a cross into the box.

Canada converted on the penalty kick, sending the game to a shootout.

From there, Naeher made three saves — and even scored on a penalty kick — as the U.S. moved on to Sunday’s final.

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