It was no secret Canada’s strategy against the deeper, more talented Americans was to slow the game down. That included, Wambach said, having goalkeeper Erin McLeod hold the ball as long as possible, even over 15 seconds at times during the first half. Soccer rules say the goalkeeper must get rid of the ball within six seconds.
During the second half, with the U.S. frantically trying to speed the game up while attempting multiple comebacks, Wambach began running near referee Christiana Pedersen and counting off the seconds that McLeod held the ball. She said she often got to 10 and into even the teens.
“I wasn’t yelling. I was just counting,” Wambach revealed on Wednesday during an interview at the team hotel here. “Probably did it five to seven times.”
The last time came in the 78th minute, with Canada trying to milk a 3-2 lead. McLeod made a save and Wambach began counting again.
“I got to 10 seconds right next to the referee and at 10 seconds she blew the whistle,” Wambach said.
This is a significant piece of gamesmanship. Let’s recall that Canada’s coach sort of put Abby’s name out on the street before the game, attempting to alert the refs to the USWNT’s “illegal tactics” designed to “free a key player.” He was referring to what are really bog-standard pick runs on set pieces, which in most cases, the U.S. uses to free Wambach so that she can get her head on the ball. Sounds to me like Abby smartly decided to work the refs right back on Canada.
Even without the provocation, it’s good in-game I.Q.
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