‘Stupidly good’: America loves our Sam
Australia may still be mourning the Wallabies' early exit from the Rugby World Cup but soccer superstar Sam Kerr showed athletes from Down Under can still dominate on the global stage.
The Matildas captain powered the Chicago Red Stars to a 1-0 win in their semi-final against Portland Thorns, scoring in the eighth minute to set up a clash with North Carolina Courage in the decider of America's National Women's Soccer League (NWSL).
Goalscoring extraordinaire Kerr finished brilliantly from just inside the area after latching onto a through-ball from Yuki Nagasato, sliding the ball along the turf across the Portland goalkeeper and into the bottom corner.
Nagasato gained possession near the centre-circle on Chicago's side of halfway, took a touch then split the Portland defence with an immaculate pass that allowed Kerr to slide in behind the Thorns' back four without breaking her stride.
The vision and execution from Nagasato was top-class and Kerr did her teammate justice by slotting the ball into the back of the net.
"She puts the ball on a platter and I don't have to do much," Kerr said of Nagasato's contribution.
There was plenty of love for Kerr from those watching on Stateside. Sports Illustrated soccer writer Grant Wahl said on Twitter the goal was another example of "more Sam Kerr magic" while others were just as impressed.
I know this is obvious, but I have to say it: Sam Kerr is a stupidly good soccer player. #CHIvPOR— Natalie Fertig (@natsfert) October 20, 2019
sam kerr is on a mission— justin 6lock (@JBlock49) October 20, 2019
Thrilled for Chicago Red Stars who overcame history of playoff heartbreak and will face up to seemingly omnipotent @TheNCCourage in Sunday's Final. Whatever happens, hope their delirious fans savor every second and make great Memories. With Sam Kerr, Everything is Possible🙌 pic.twitter.com/R5kZDIait3— roger bennett (@rogbennett) October 20, 2019
I can’t tell if France hesitated or slipped or just isn’t super human enough, but that sucks. Great counter-attacking goal by Kerr. #BAONPDX— Jayme Fraser (@JaymeKFraser) October 20, 2019
Kerr has a record 77 regular-season goals in her NWSL career and is the league's three-time Golden Boot winner, but she had never scored in her three previous playoff games.
The win ended the Red Stars' luckless record in the playoffs, having been knocked out in four consecutive semi-finals and it was the first time since 2013 they had beaten Portland.
Portland attempted to spark their offence by inserting Matildas star Hayley Raso from the bench after the halftime break and the forward caused Chicago trouble.
The Thorns also feature Matildas Ellie Carpenter and Caitlin Foord while Chicago's reserve goalkeeper is Australian Mackenzie Arnold. T
North Carolina made the final after a 4-1 win against the Seattle Reign, who feature Australians Steph Catley and Lydia Williams.
The teams were locked 1-1 at the end of regulation in North Carolina on Sunday but the Courage stormed home in extra time to win 4-1 and book a place in next weekend's championship game.
With Peter Mitchell, AAP