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The USWNT and Canada battle to a 1-1 draw in Vancouver

Everyone knew that Canada was going to take their two November friendlies against the FIFA world #1 very seriously as both teams battle for an advantage going into  2019 Women’s World Cup Qualifying, but by the time all 28,017 attendees showed up at BC Place on Thursday night, it was clear that the hosts were gunning for the win. They almost achieved it, drawing the USA 1-1 behind an equalizing goal from Adriana Leon, after Alex Morgan put the USWNT up 1-0 in the 31st minute.

The match started somewhat frantically, with both teams bypassing the midfield and trying to gain the early advantage. The USA particularly had some trouble early with the playing surface, with final passes in front of the Canadian goal rolling too quickly for anyone to catch, and a couple of noticeable slips while defending. Canada also came out with an aggressive press, and the USA had to find patches of space on the counter in order to put together sequences in front of the Canadian goal. Megan Rapinoe came closest to danger in the early going, with an unlucky bounce off the far post in the 11th minute.

Canada kept searching for the first goal, but it ended up being the visitors that struck first when, in the 31st minute, the Canadians struggled to clear a ball sent into the box, which finally fell to Alex Morgan, who half-volleyed the ball past Stephanie Labbe to put the USA up 1-0.

Canada responded with much of the possession in front of goal to close the first half, but the USA escaped with the score-line intact going into the second 45 minutes. However, Canada continued pushing early in the second half, and the USWNT had trouble coping with the Canadian press. The new faces in the USA defense, Casey Short and Abby Dahlkemper (both so good throughout the 2017 NWSL season) had rough games, and if not for the impressive play of veterans Becky Sauerbrunn and Kelley O’Hara the scoreline might not have been so forgiving. Eventually Canada found gold in the form of the Adriana Leon equalizer in the 57th minute after the USA had their own trouble clearing a corner kick.

Both teams spent the next half hour looking for the game-winner, but the match would ultimately end in a deserved draw. Canada will have to be feeling confident going into the re-match in San Jose, CA on Sunday evening, and the USWNT will have to be wondering just how long they can tinker before they lose their edge against their long-time rival. USA-Canada round 2 kicks off at 6pm on November 12th, and will air on Fox Sports 1.

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