Call it a legitimate complaint. Or call it a big underdog trying to gain some sort of mental edge on the eve of a big game at the Olympics.
Either way, the coach of the Canadian women’s soccer team took a swipe at the Americans on Sunday, accusing the US team of ‘‘highly illegal’’ tactics.
John Herdman said the Americans go beyond the rules with their physical play on set pieces.
‘‘One of the big threats we’ve got to take care of, and what we’ve paid attention to, is the illegal marking in the box on their corners and free kicks,’’ Herdman said. ‘‘Some of the blocking tactics, which are highly illegal, we’ll keep an eye on them in the game. We’ve started working on that in training without trying to injure our players.’’
Herdman said he also hopes to ‘‘raise awareness’’ of the issue with game officials when Canada plays the US in the semifinals on Monday at Old Trafford.
‘‘Obviously they’re trying to free up a key player, but in a very illegal way . . . The US, it’s what they do well,’’ he said.
Herdman cited an example from the Americans’ victory over France in the Olympic opener, when Abby Wambach headed in a corner kick in the first half. He said US defender Amy LePeilbet ‘‘took a good battering’’ while making a move that freed up Wambach.
Canada is winless in its last 26 matches against the US, going 0-22-4 since a win at the Algarve Cup in 2001.
Monday’s first semifinal pits France and Japan at Wembley Stadium.
Focused on Argentina
The US men’s basketball team said it isn’t looking ahead to the medal round yet. Not when Argentina is the next opponent, and not after a narrow victory over Lithuania on Saturday.
The US technically hasn’t clinched the top seed in its pool yet but the Americans would have to lose Monday by the kind of monstrous margin they usually beat teams by to fall out of first place.
‘‘We don’t come here to lose,’’ LeBron James said Sunday. ‘‘We come here to play at a high level and continue to get better. We don’t have time to waste . . . we have the opportunity to get better [Monday] and we’re going to do that.’’
Not to mention the Americans have too much history with Argentina — including an 86-80 US victory in an exhibition last month in Barcelona — and too much to clean up after a close call against Lithuania to think they wouldn’t be focused in the final game before quarterfinal play begins.
‘‘They just try to get under our skins, they try to beat us up and it is what it is at this point,’’ Carmelo Anthony said of Argentina. ‘‘If you want to consider them a rival of the US, then so be it, but we’ll be ready for them.’’
Argentina (3-1) is probably headed for a third-place finish in its group and a difficult quarterfinal with either Spain or Brazil. Unless it loses by at least 17 points Monday, the US will open the quarterfinals Wednesday against Australia.
Phelps moves on
On the first day of the rest of his life, Michael Phelps popped out of bed around 6 a.m.
‘‘I’ve been used to getting up early the last 20 years. We’re going to work on getting on a little different schedule,’’ said Phelps, who ended his swimming career in London as the most decorated Olympian with 22 medals and 18 golds. The only thing left to do is sign the retirement papers, which will remove him from the list of athletes who must undergo regular doping tests.
‘‘I have not officially retired yet,’’ Phelps said, “but very soon I will be signing those papers and it will be official.’’
Phelps isn’t sure what he’ll do next. There will definitely be plenty of traveling. He wants to work on his golf game. He might even take a trip to the beach, which was something he never wanted to do when he was swimming competitively.
‘‘If I go swimming any place, it will probably be in the ocean,’’ Phelps said.
Phelps’s rival, Ryan Lochte, said he’ll be back competing for the US at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, and might even add an event to his agenda. Lochte swam in six events in London, winning two golds, two silvers, and a bronze.
‘‘I’m going to swim as long as I’m having fun,’’ said Lochte. ‘‘I’m definitely going to be training a lot differently and I’ll be training for more of the shorter events, so I’ll be cutting down my training a little.’’
Don’t expect changes
The format of Olympic badminton will be reviewed to avoid a repeat of the match-throwing scandal that blighted the London Games, but the governing body of the sport said Sunday no changes were guaranteed.
Thomas Lund, general secretary of the Badminton World Federation, said a full tournament evaluation will be presented at a federation meeting in November, including a report on the debut of group play in London. Four women’s doubles pairs took advantage of the format by trying to lose group matches to give themselves easier quarterfinal matchups. They were disqualified.
Lund said the federation regarded the group system, in which teams play a set of games before a knockout tournament, as ‘‘a big success’’ compared with having only a tournament. But he added, “There are things that can be improved to avoid similar incidents in future.’’
Lucas rumor untrue
The Brazilian soccer federation released a statement denying that midfielder Lucas underwent physical tests to finalize a possible transfer to Manchester United, which was reported by the British media. The statement said Brazil has not received any requests by English clubs and that even if it did, it would not allow the player to leave the team’s headquarters. Brazil plays South Korea in the men’s semifinals on Tuesday . . . Two Ukrainian super heavyweights joined the swelling ranks of weightlifters who dropped out of the Olympics. Ukraine’s Olympic Committee said Svetlana Cherniavska has not recovered from an injury she received a month ago, forcing her out of the women’s event, and Artem Udachyn was injured during training and won’t take part in the men’s competition Tuesday . . . Officials at the London Velodrome reported three leaks in the roof after heavy rains Sunday morning. The leaks were considered minor and the track has not been damaged.