Being on the sidelines while a massive game is being decided by penalty kicks is not something Christine Sinclair has experienced often during her storied international career.
That was the very situation the talismanic Canadian captain found herself in on Friday, as her team traded penalties with Sweden in the final of the women’s soccer tournament at the Tokyo Games.
While Sinclair was ecstatic about the end result — Canada outscored Sweden 3-2 in the extra session to capture its first women’s soccer gold medal — she was less enamoured with the process.
Sinclair was substituted in the second half of the gold-medal match, meaning she had to watch kick after nerve-rattling kick from the bench.
“I think it’s the first shootout I’ve not physically been a part of, and it was the worst experience of my life,” she said. “I wish people had a camera on Desiree Scott and I throughout that shootout, because we were absolutely going insane and having heart attacks.”
The penalties were an emotional roller-coaster, with Jessie Fleming putting the Canadians ahead early, only to see the team’s next three shooters miss the mark as Sweden took a 2-1 lead.
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Swedish captain Caroline Seger had a chance to win it but her attempt went over the crossbar, and Deanne Rose, needing to score to extend the shootout, came through with a strong effort into the top corner.
Tied after five kicks, the penalties went to sudden death. Canadian goaltender Stephanie Labbe came up with a big save on Sweden’s Jonna Andersson, then Canada’s Julia Grosso buried the winner.
The gold-medal victory was the second game of the tournament Canada won in penalty kicks. The Canadians beat Brazil 4-3 on PKs in the round of 16, with Labbe stopping Brazil’s final two shooters for another dramatic win.
The gold medal is the latest highlight for Sinclair, who leads all soccer players in international goals with 187. She also led Canada to bronze medals at the 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
While an Olympic championship would be the perfect cap to her international career, the 38-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., said she’s not ready to make any decisions about her future.
“Right now, I’m like: ‘I want to keep going forever!’ and then the next day I’m like: ‘Or you can just be done at the top.’ So who knows what will happen.”
Blue Jays need to determine next steps for Ryu after thumping from Twins – Sportsnet.ca
Either way, the veteran lefty has certainly given his team cause for concern. Since a Sept. 6 gem against the New York Yankees, in which he threw six shutout innings and struck out six while allowing only three hits, he’s delivered consecutive duds, getting blistered for 12 runs on 13 hits over 4.1 innings in the process.
The latest thumping came in Friday night’s 7-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins, during which he allowed five runs on five hits in two-plus innings, including back-to-back homers from Jorge Polanco and Josh Donaldson. Put in a wider context, the start marked the sixth time this year he’s allowed more than five runs, with four of them coming in his last eight outings.
“I’ve been leaving a lot of my pitches over the plate too much, more than I’d hope, and that’s resulted in a lot of runs in a single inning,” Ryu said through interpreter J.S. Park. “That’s the struggle this month.”
Mixed into that stretch is a seven-shutout-inning start against the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 21, a 5.2 inning, three-run outing Aug. 31 against Baltimore in which he carried a no-hitter into the sixth and the Yankees gem, which he left early with forearm tightness.
Whether that’s a lingering issue is unclear – Ryu said he felt fine after his rocky last time out Sept. 11 against the Orioles – but with the Blue Jays fighting for the post-season, determining next steps for him is critical.
“Not really in that aspect,” Ryu replied when asked if there was a connection between the arm issue in New York and his subsequent performances. Later he added, “I feel fine. I don’t feel anything different.”
Jose Berrios, who left his outing Tuesday with tightness in his left abdomen, will make his next start Sunday, manager Charlie Montoyo said before the game, with Alek Manoah pushed to Tuesday, as a way to manage his workload. As Sportsnet colleague Ben Nicholson-Smith detailed here, that gives the Blue Jays the option of skipping Steven Matz on Sept. 29 and pitching Berrios and Robbie Ray against the New York Yankees in that crucial series.
That would also keep Ray on turn for a potential wild card game Oct. 5, and Berrios in line for a tiebreaker game Oct. 4, if needed. But such a scenario also calls for Ryu to pitch next Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays and the series opener against the Yankees on Sept. 28, and he made it through just four batters in the third Friday, unable to deliver a shutdown inning after the Blue Jays had given him a 2-1 lead in the second.
Montoyo said skipping a start is “always an option” for any of his pitchers but Ryu “hasn’t complained about anything (physical). His command hasn’t been there and that’s one of the reasons he has struggled.”
“But he’s fine. He’s healthy. He hasn’t complained,” Montoyo continued. “It’s all about his command. If he gets it, he’ll be fine, like he’s always done in the past.”
Ryu’s long track record earns him some rope.
But if something is amiss physically – and even extra rest, a boost that coming into the night lowered his ERA from 5.64 in 12 starts on four days to 2.61 in 10 outings on five days, didn’t help Friday – can the Blue Jays chance it in critical contests?
Friday’s loss dropped the Blue Jays (82-65) a game back of the Boston Red Sox (84-65) for the first wild card and a half game back of the New York Yankees (83-65) for the second.
Montoyo pointed to how much trust he has in his lefty and praised him as “that guy that can make an adjustment just like that from outing to outing.”
Ryu, for his part, isn’t interested in taking a start off.
Asked if he thought that might be beneficial, Ryu replied, “I don’t really want to think about it that way and on top of that, I don’t really want to do that.”
Regaining his usual pinpoint command, the skill which allows him to thrive despite a fastball velocity hovering around 90 m.p.h., was key, he said, and that, “I just need to find myself and try to fight back through this.”
The Blue Jays offence, which got Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s 46th homer of the season and not much else, can’t be expected to bail Ryu as he tries to regain equilibrium, the way they rallied from five runs down to beat the Orioles last Saturday, and the issue isn’t just the result.
To get through Friday’s game, the Blue Jays had to burn through Ross Stripling (who gave up Miguel Sano’s solo shot as he entered the game before throwing three innings), Julian Merryweather (who gave up a Brent Rooker solo shot), Nate Pearson, Ryan Borucki and Adam Cimber.
It’s the type of bullpen usage that usually gets someone optioned, while leaving the relief corps thin for the rest of the series, although Montoyo said his relief corps is fine for Saturday and that several of the relievers actually needed work.
Regardless, a strong outing Saturday from Matz would do everyone a solid with the Blue Jays having started a stretch of 10 straight games without a break.
Berrios can do the same Sunday by showing the Blue Jays that the abdomen tightness issue is behind him, but the rotation stability that has fuelled the club’s recent surge suddenly feels a little unsettled.
It could simply be a brief aberration, one that happens over a long season and something Ryu will soon correct. But if it’s a trend, the Blue Jays don’t have the runway to wait out the struggles until he gets back to normal.
Riders' offence comes to life in win over Argonauts – TSN
REGINA — The Saskatchewan Roughriders ended a frustrating touchdown drought Friday in a 30-16 victory over the Toronto Argonauts.
The Riders entered the game having not scored a touchdown since the third quarter of a 23-10 victory over the Ottawa RedBlacks on Aug. 21. The streak, which included back-to-back defeats against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, ended when Cody Fajardo scored on a quarterback sneak on Saskatchewan’s first possession of the game.
Receiver Brayden Lenius increased Saskatchewan’s lead to 15-3 early in the second quarter when he hauled in 12-yard touchdown pass from Fajardo. Tailback William Powell set up the touchdown with a 33-yard run.
The Riders defence come up with three turnovers in the first half. Elie Bouka and Deon Lacey both forced fumbles that Saskatchewan recovered. The Riders also had a goal-line stand late in the second quarter, stopping Toronto quarterback Nick Arbuckle on a quarterback sneak from the one-yard line and running back John White on the following play.
Toronto trimmed the Saskatchewan lead to 18-9 with a six-play, 66-yard scoring drive to open the second half. Receiver DaVaris Daniels played a big role in the drive, catching three passes for 60 yards including a 21-yard touchdown reception.
Rookie receiver Kian Schaffer-Baker had a breakout game for the Riders, catching nine passes for 99 yards. He scored his first CFL touchdown in the fourth quarter, catching a short pass and breaking a number of tackles en route to a 24-yard score. Fajardo connected with Mitchell Picton on a two-point convert attempt to increase the Riders lead to 26-9.
Arbuckle tossed his second touchdown pass of the game four minutes into the fourth quarter, connecting with Eric Rogers on an 18-yard play. The major narrowed the Riders lead to 27-16.
Powell finished with 122 rushing yards on 21 carries. He had an impressive first half, gaining 86 yards on 13 carries.
Fajardo completed 21-of-31 passes for 212 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also had 58 yards rushing on eight carries.
Riders kicker Brett Lauther was 2 for 4 on field-goal attempts, connecting from 23 and 24 yards while missing from 46 and 41 yards.
Micah Johnson, Deon Lacey, Keion Adams and Jonathan Woodard recorded sacks for the Riders while Nick Marshall had an interception.
Charleston Hughes and Dewayne Hendrix had sacks for the Argos. Crezdon Butler had an interception.
Arbuckle finished with 309 yards passing, connecting on 22-of-33 attempts. He had two touchdown passes and one interception.
Argos linebacker Cameron Judge was injured six minutes into the game after suffering an apparent leg injury.
Elks name Cornelius as starting QB for injured Harris – TSN
Taylor Cornelius will get the starting nod at quarterback when the Edmonton Elks face the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday.
The 26-year-old quarterback has not taken any snaps for the Elks this season, but has three carries and rushed for two yards in five games played.
Cornelius previously played for the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL where he threw for 858 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions in five games played.
The Amarillo, TX native will be replacing starting quarterback Trevor Harris, who was placed on the six-injured list after sustaining a neck injury during September 11th loss against the Calgary Stampeders.
Harris has thrown for 1481 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions over five games this season.
Blue Jays need to determine next steps for Ryu after thumping from Twins – Sportsnet.ca
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