"It's definitely draining," U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe said Tuesday before boarding the bus to London, where the Americans will play Japan in the Olympic final on Thursday. "We played 123 minutes. And, on top of that, all the emotion."
The basic facts and bitter words were evident after the 4-3 result at Old Trafford on Monday night. Alex Morgan scored the winning goal in the final minute of extra time, but it was Wambach's out-loud timekeeping that led to the game's pivotal moment: Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen's decision to whistle the Canadian goalkeeper for holding the ball too long, a call that led to the tying goal for the United States in the 80th minute.
It's a rule rarely enforced, akin to an umpire in baseball deciding the batter hit by the pitch didn't make a sufficient attempt to get out of the way of the ball. It gave the United States an indirect kick, which turned into a hand ball, which turned into a penalty kick.
The Canadians were furious. And they made their feelings known after the game.
Coach John Herdman: "The ref, she will have to sleep in bed tonight after watching the replay. She's going to have to live with that. We will move on from this. I wonder if she will be able to."
Forward Christine Sinclair: "We feel like it was taken away from us. It's a shame in a game like that, which is so important, that the ref decided the result before the game started."
Goalkeeper Erin McLeod, a Penn State graduate: "I think the referee was very one-sided."
Soccer governing FIFA is weighing disciplinary action against Canada for those remarks. Regardless, when such serious allegations are made, it's imperative to look closely at what happened.
The goalkeeper is supposed to control the ball with her hands, including bouncing it to herself, for no more than six seconds. In many ways, it's a laughable rule: U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo is one of the quickest in the game at getting rid of the ball, but it's not unusual to see her go over that limit.
But McLeod pushed the rule to the extreme. The first time she caught the ball Monday night - off a deflected header - she held it for 17 seconds before punting it away. A couple of minutes later, she controlled it for 16 seconds. There was another 16-second possession later in the half as she cradled the ball, gave it a bounce, walked forward, and directed traffic.
With Canada leading at 76:36 on the official clock, McLeod fell to the ground making a two-handed catch of a corner kick by Rapinoe. McLeod took three to four seconds to get up, still cradling the ball. She started to run forward, then slowed to a walk. At 76:44, she started to wave her players forward. She bounced the ball once, then started to punt it at 76:47.
Wambach was keeping track.
"I had gotten to 10 seconds counting out loud next to the referee," Wambach said. "And at 10 seconds she blew the whistle, and I think it was a good call. Yes, it's uncharacteristic for that call to be made in a soccer game, but the rules are the rules."