The United States women's soccer team wasn't at full strength. Canada sent out several teenagers. But that didn't stop the two teams from playing to an exciting 1-1 draw on Thursday in a result that will likely feel like a moral victory for Canada and a bit of a disappointment for the United States.
Kadeisha Buchanan scored for Canada in the first half, while Sydney Leroux equalised in the second 45 for the States.
Before the match, Canada manager John Herdman talked about what it was like facing the dangerous Americans, per Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun:
They’re bigger than you, they can run faster—and that makes them just a machine. They tend to be just a moving force that no matter who they play, they play the same sort of style. It’s very chaotic.
It’s organized chaos... you’ve got to think carefully how that chemistry comes together to control the chaos that ensues.
He'll certainly be pleased with how his team handled the chaos.
The Americans came out extremely aggressive in the early going, lobbing balls deep and really coming after the Canadian back line. Heather O'Reilly had an excellent chance in the seventh minute, but her screaming effort was pushed over the bar by keeper Erin McLeod.
While the United States controlled possession for much of the first half, Canada was chippy and looked like a threat going forward, though they couldn't quite put together a scoring move.
At least not until the 35th minute, that is. The Canadians earned a corner and Buchanan finished it off, sending the swinging cross into the back post. Fox Soccer Trax broke down the tally:
Canada earns a corner and Buchanan, all of 18 years old, nods it past Solo!!!— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) May 9, 2014
36 Buchanan rose above Krieger as Solo had a pick set up her and headed to the far post, which nobody was covering.— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) May 9, 2014
The goal seemed to energize the Canadians, who finished off the half strong. Diana Matheson floated a cross in from the wing in the 43rd minute that nearly found the net, catching Hope Solo off guard and clanging off the bar.
It wasn't a bad first half from the Americans, but it certainly wasn't the way they likely envisioned the first 45 playing out.
The U.S. nearly equalised in the 51st minute, however, as Abby Wambach was left all alone on the back post on a free kick and headed toward goal. But McLeod was up to the task, making a big save and preserving Canada's lead.
They had another brilliant chance in the 66th minute, as Carli Lloyd crossed a ball to O'Reilly, who needed only to tap home to equalise. But somehow, some way, she spun the shot wide.
But the United States kept on pressing, and Leroux earned the equaliser in the 77th minute. Rebecca Quinn failed to clear a header and the ball fell right to Leroux, who buried it into the net.
The Canadians nearly retook the lead just minutes later, as Christine Sinclair's sliding effort on the counterattack went inches wide. It was a wake-up call for the U.S.
Both teams kept pressing down the stretch, but there wasn't to be a game-winning goal in this one, though neither team sat back and played cautiously. All around, a solid exhibition, though Canada's young players will certainly take confidence from this result.
|United States||Hope Solo||GK||B|
|United States||Ali Krieger||D||B-|
|United States||Whitney Engen||D||B-|
|United States||Becky Sauerbrunn||D||B-|
|United States||Meghan Klingenberg||D||B-|
|United States||Carli Lloyd||MF||B+|
|United States||Morgan Brian||MF||C+|
|United States||Lauren Holiday||MF||C+|
|United States||Heather O'Reilly||MF||B|
|United States||Abby Wambach||F||B|
|United States||Sydney Leroux||F||A-|
|United States||Christen Press (sub)||F||C|
|United States||Allie Long (sub)||MF||C|
|United States||Christie Rampone (sub)||C|
|Canada||Melissa Tancredi (sub)||F||C|
|Canada||Jessie Fleming (sub)||MF||C|
|Canada||Kaylyn Kyle (sub)||MF||C|
|Canada||Robyn Gayle (sub)||D||C|
Player of the Match: Kadeisha Buchanan, D, Canada
Not only did Buchanan score Canada's lone goal, she also harassed Wambach for much of this game—to the point that some USWNT supporters would have probably like a few more calls going Wambach's way.
Anyway you slice it, though, Buchanan played a strong game.
Runner-up honors go to keeper McLeod for Canada, who made some grade-A saves. The entire Canadian back line played quite well, to be fair, so a shout-out to that unit as a whole. A strong display against a dangerous U.S. attack.
The U.S. women will next take on France in a friendly on June 14, while the Canadians will play Germany in a friendly on June 19.