U.S. women’s soccer team qualifies for 2024 Paris Olympics, beating gold medalist Canada

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The U.S. women’s soccer team qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics by beating Canada 1-0 in the CONCACAF W Championship final, reversing the score from the Tokyo Olympic semifinal stunner.

Alex Morgan netted her 118th national team goal on a penalty kick in the 78th minute, reprising her match-winning-scorer role from the teams’ 2012 Olympic semifinal epic.

The Americans have qualified for every Olympic women’s soccer tournament since the first one in Atlanta in 1996. They’ve won four gold medals, but their two lowest finishes came at the last two Games — a loss in the quarterfinals in Rio and a bronze medal in Tokyo after that semifinal defeat to Canada.

It marked the Canadians’ first win over the U.S. since 2001, and they rode that momentum to gold four days later. Canada can still qualify for the Paris Olympics via playoff with Jamaica next year.

The U.S. played six matches at the Olympics and failed to score in half of them after coming to Japan having scored in 34 of its last 35 matches in Olympic and World Cup tournaments.

The U.S. also qualified for next year’s World Cup and will bid for a three-peat in that quadrennial event. But the Americans head into that tournament in Australia and New Zealand with a different look.

Coach Vlatko Andonovski focused on developing young talent since Tokyo, and up-and-coming players including Sophia Smith and Mallory Pugh have cracked the starting lineup.

A few veterans remain, including Morgan and Becky Sauerbrunn, who both started on Monday, and Megan Rapinoe, who was a reserve against Canada. Carli Lloyd retired after the Tokyo Games.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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U.S., Canada renew women’s soccer rivalry with Olympic spot at stake

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MONTERREY, Mexico — The U.S. women’s soccer team plays Canada in the final of the CONCACAF W Championship for a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The U.S. beat Costa Rica 3-0 in the semifinals Thursday night on goals from Emily Sonnett, Mallory Pugh and Ashley Sanchez. Canada downed Jamaica 3-0 in the late game to advance to earn the other spot Monday night in the championship.

The U.S. extended its shutout streak in World Cup or Olympic qualifying matches to 32 games.

The four teams had already qualified for the region’s berths at the 2023 Women’s World Cup as the top finishers in the group stage. The winner of the W Championship additionally earns one of the region’s two spots in the Olympics.

The loser of Monday’s game and the winner of the third-place match between Costa Rica and Jamaica will play in September 2023 for the second and last CONCACAF spot in the Olympic field.

At the Tokyo Games, Canada stunned the U.S. 1-0 in the semifinals, beating the U.S. for the first time since 2001 en route to the gold medal. The U.S. played six matches at the Olympics and failed to score in half of them after coming to Japan having scored in 34 of its last 35 matches in Olympic and World Cup tournaments.

The U.S. won the last two World Cups, but the Americans are heading into next summer’s tournament in Australia and New Zealand with a different look.

Coach Vlatko Andonovski focused on developing young talent since winning bronze in Tokyo, and up-and-coming players including Sophia Smith and Mallory Pugh have cracked the starting lineup. Casey Murphy got the starting nod in goal.

A few veterans remain, including Alex Morgan and Becky Sauerbrunn, who both started on Thursday, and Megan Rapinoe, who came off the bench. Carli Lloyd retired after the Tokyo Games.

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Simone Biles, Megan Rapinoe join Olympians to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Simone Biles and Megan Rapinoe are the latest Olympians to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Biles is the youngest living person ever to receive the medal out of hundreds, President Joe Biden said Thursday in awarding the medals.

Biden named 17 recipients of the honor last Friday, also including Steve JobsJohn McCain and Denzel Washington.

The medal is “presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors,” according to the White House. “President Biden has long said that America can be defined by one word: possibilities. These seventeen Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation – hard work, perseverance, and faith. They have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities – and across the world – while blazing trails for generations to come.”

Biles, 25, shatters Tiger Woods‘ record as the youngest athlete to receive the honor. Woods was 43 in 2019.

The White House noted that Biles, in addition to her gymnastics accolades, “is also a prominent advocate for athletes’ mental health and safety, children in the foster care system, and victims of sexual assault.”

Rapinoe, an Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion, is a prominent advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice and LGBTQI+ rights.

They join a long list of Olympians to receive the honor, including Jesse OwensMuhammad Ali and Pat Summitt.

It’s the fourth consecutive year that at least one Olympian received the Presidential Medal of Freedom after Jerry West in 2019, Dan Gable and Jim Ryun in 2020 and Babe Didrikson Zaharias posthumously in 2021.

ON HER TURF: Rapinoe honors Griner at Medal of Freedom ceremony

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