United States, Canada fail to capitalize in Winnipeg
The US Women’s National Soccer team may be considered the best in the world, but that didn’t stop the Canadian Women’s team from giving the number one team a very well fought battle in the international friendly Thursday night. While Johnny Manziel waited for a phone call in New York, the two soccer teams were battling on the turf of Winnipeg’s Investors Group Field.
Although from the start the United States dominated in both possession of the ball and offensive plays, Canada’s Kadeisha Buchanan was the first to score with a movie-moment header off of a well-placed corner kick in the 35th minute. It was the 18-year-old’s first international goal as a member of the Canadian National Team, and her career seems to only be going upward from there. The defender made her international debut in January and has already been referred to as the “Christine Sinclair of defense,” after Canada’s most influential offensive weapon.
Buchanan’s goal, along with a pair huge saves from Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod against Heather O’Reilly and Abby Wambach in the 8th and 51st minutes, respectively, seemed to be the goal that would finally give the Canadians a win over the US for the first time since 2001. US keeper Hope Solo rarely saw a Canadian shot on goal after Buchanan’s header as the second half became almost solely a battle between the American offense and Canadian defense.
The gritty matchup between offense and defense was only made more frustrating as the ball skidded along the turf, making ball control the biggest obstacle both teams had to overcome. The clock ticked agonizingly onward as the US struggled to pull off a goal to even the score.
That saving goal came with only 12 minutes left in regulation, off a cross from Crystal Dunn. The ball went off a Canadian defender’s head and landed at the feet of forward Sydney Leroux, who wasted no time putting it past McLeod and into the net. It was Leroux’s third consecutive scoring game against Canada.
The Canadians came back with a vengeance, showing more offensive prowess than they had the previous 78 minutes of gameplay, and Christine Sinclair nearly nabbed the counter for her team just minutes after Leroux’s goal with a shot from inside the 18. The ball erred wide, however, and the US had a chance to catch their breath before pushing the ball forward once again.
The last ten minutes of gameplay saw quite a bit of back and forth from both teams, with high intensity doing little to make anything happen. Leroux’s goal proved to be the last of the night, and the whistle blew with 1-1 on the scoreboard in Winnipeg.
The game proved several points, however, the first being that Canada is looking to play big in the 2015 Women’s World Cup. With Sinclair leading the charge in the front and now Buchanan holding things down in the back half of the field, the Canadian team is proving to be a very different team than the team that played in the 2011 World Cup.
The United States team has been split between the teams of the National Women’s Soccer League, and it took some time for them to gain their usual rhythm and momentum last night. That chemistry, as proved by the number of failed attempts on goal in the first half, could have been the difference between a win and a draw in Winnipeg. The loss of Alex Morgan at forward could have also been a deciding factor in the score of the game, and it’s going to be up to players like Leroux to fill in the gap Morgan left.
Leroux’s style is different from Morgan’s, but she still plays with the speed and agility that her USWNT star teammate is famous for. What Leroux needs to do is develop the single-mindedness Morgan seems to have with her teammates, especially that crucial bond with Abby Wambach, in order to become the United States next big weapon against international teams.