It's Thorn vs. Thorn in This Olympic Semifinal Soccer Game

How does the Portland coach feel about his players facing each other? Proud. And nervous.

By Margaret Seiler July 30, 2021

Lindsey Horan of Team USA and Christine Sinclair of Team Canada pictured in a divided heart.

Thorns teammates Lindsey Horan (left) and Christine Sinclair were born on opposite sides of the 49th parallel, and will be on opposing teams when the US and Canada face off in the Olympic soccer semifinal Sunday night/Monday morning.

On Monday evening in Kashima, Japan (1 a.m Sunday night/Monday morning Pacific time), the US Women's National Team will face Canada in a semifinal game, for the chance to face either Sweden or Australia in the gold medal match on August 6 (or 7 p.m. August 5, Pacific time). It's a repeat of a 2012 Olympic semifinal between the same teams—and many of the same players—that's considered one of the most intense matchups of all time. The 122-minute overtime 4–3 win for the US was a nailbiter for American fans, and a heartbreaker for Canadians.

In this year's semifinal, Portland Thorns captain Christine Sinclair, who scored all three goals for Canada in that 2012 match, will be facing up to four of her Thorns teammates, with Crystal Dunn, Lindsey Horan, Becky Sauerbrunn, and goalkeeper Adrianna Franch all suiting up for the US. While Portland fans plan a long day of soccer (the Thorns play Kansas City at Providence Park at noon), there may be no one more glued to the screen than the Portland coach.

"I'll absolutely be watching," Thorns manager Mark Parsons said in a July 30 press conference, adding that he'd gotten up very early and might be due for a power nap going into the busy weekend. The British citizen's home team was knocked out by Australia early Friday morning, in a game that overlapped with Canada's besting of Brazil on penalties and the US's shootout win over the Netherlands.  

His wish? "Everyone stay healthy. Everyone be happy. Everyone win. Everyone score goals, or save goals. That's what I hope for. I love our Thorns. I love every Thorn that's here, I love every Thorn that's competing in the Olympics. We got a really amazing group," Parsons said. This is the sixth and last season with Portland for Parsons, who will take over the Netherlands team when its current coach, Sarina Wiegman, leaves to manage England's women's national team later this year.

"When I break down and analyze and get super-detailed, when I'm on the laptop, it's work mode," he continued. "I love just being a person who supports and believes in people as well, and I take great pride in that. Watching this game is going to be so tough, but I'm going to take pride in supporting our athletes, our Thorns that are there. They are incredible people, incredible players. It's a special privilege that we get to support our own competing at the Olympics."

US vs. Canada: 1 a.m.Pacific Monday morning, August 2

Sweden vs. Australia: 4 a.m.Pacific Monday, August 2

Bronze medal game: 1 a.m. Pacific Thursday morning, August 5

Gold medal game: 7 p.m.Pacific Thursday, August 5

Live games and replays air on a mix of NBC's cable channels and streaming services, as well as Telemundo. Check NBC's listings here