It was a win that confirmed that, for the time being, the size of the American heart is still enough to beat the best women's teams in the world. But it was a loss that showed that Canada knew the weaknesses of the American team, exploited them, and by some measures played the better game.
Before Monday, the US women were 43-3-5 against the Canadians. But let's just call it 1-0, because for these cross-border rivals, something beautiful was born at Old Trafford: a new beginning.
Canada might not quite be on level terms yet – the Americans ran the match virtually from start to finish. But there is no question that the Americans had no answer for Christine Sinclair. And that is thanks to a stroke of brilliance from the Canadian coach.
Sinclair, the No. 3 all-time scorer in women's soccer history, had always been a forward, and logically so. But there, she always went head-to-head with a team's best defenders – and sometimes two of them. By slotting Sinclair into the Canadian midfield during the Olympics, coach John Herdman made a tactical masterstroke: Does an opposing team move a defenseman out to get her, leaving space behind her for the Canadian forwards to attack, or does a less defensively adept midfielder drop back to pick her up?
In the Americans' case, the answer was: neither. With the American midfield famous for wanting to push forward on offense, Sinclair repeatedly found spaces in which to operate, most notably on the first goal, when a brilliantly executed Canadian counterattack cut the American defense to shreds.