USA poses for photographs before kick off during the Women's Football first round Group G match between the United States and DPR Korea,on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Old Trafford on July 31, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, England - Ahead of their semifinal matchup Monday, Canada's women's soccer coach says U.S. players commonly use "illegal tactics" and are "very good at it."
John Herdman said Americans are setting picks on set plays like corner kicks, an illegal way to free players of their defensive assignments. He points to Abby Wambach's goal off a corner kick in a 4-2 victory against France in the Olympic opener.
"That's got to be paid real attention to," he said. "Some of the blocking tactics are highly illegal, and we'll keep an eye on that in the game.
Herdman said North Korea was successful in countering the American tactics late in a 1-0 U.S. victory.
"We've started working on that in training without injuring our players," he said. "The Koreans came up with a good strategy after the eighth illegal block. Obviously they're trying to free up a key player but in a very illegal way.
"Go back and look at some of the goals, and you'll see what they're up to."
The Americans haven't had an opportunity to respond to Herdman's claims, as the news conference for U.S. coach Pia Sundhage and Wambach was held before Herdman's at Old Trafford.
Wambach said she expects a physical game from Canada, but the Americans don't want to get into a scrap.
"We've had historically close matches" with Canada, Wambach said. "Because of the physical nature of the game, sometimes it's closer than maybe we think it ought to be.
"We don't want to make it a physical game. We want to play good soccer. But if it comes down to that, I know we're up for the challenge."
Herdman was otherwise complimentary of the American side, describing striker Alex Morgan as a "Ferrari" and Wambach as a legend of the game. The USA is unbeaten in 26 consecutive meetings with Canada and 43-3-5 in the all-time series.
Said Herdman: "There aren't many chinks in their armor.
"I'm just hoping that our girls can dare to dream. We've grown through the tournament, and our next step is: Can we topple the USA?"
By Robert Klemko