WINNIPEG, Manitba – A goal in each half sealed a 1-1 draw between the U.S. and Canada on Thursday at Investors Group Field as the home side got a tremendous performance from a young back line of teenagers Sura Yekka, Rebecca Quinn, Kadeisha Buchanan, and veteran Rhian Wilkinson.
Buchanan scored her first senior goal for Canada off a header in the 35th minute before Canadian nemeses Sydney Leroux continued to haunt her country of birth as she scored the tying goal in the 78th minute. Leroux has now scored in three consecutive matches against Canada.
Winnipeg’s own Desiree Scott was the main focal point, and attraction for the 28,255 fans. Scott had a great match patrolling the midfield for Canada. But the Notts County player was happy with her young defense’s performance.
“The future is bright,” Scott said. “Kadeisha Buchanan’s an 18-year-old going toe-to-toe with some of the best strikers in the world and she scores a goal tonight, unbelievable performance. I’m like her big sister, and there she goes having a fabulous performance tonight. Sura Yekka, coming on and doing a phenomenal job so we’re excited for what they are going to bring to the team and future.”
Christine Sinclair was kept off the score sheet, but she believes this was one of the best overall matches Canada has played against the world No. 1 United States.
“I think it’s one of the best games we’ve played against the U.S., but it’s obviously frustrating to give up a goal late,” Canada’s captain said. “I thought tonight was our night; I thought we could have beaten them. We proved tonight that we’re capable of beating any team in the world. It was a battle from start to finish, and neither team gave each other an inch. There was a lot of blood lost on the field.”
With the win, the U.S. improved to 47-3-6 against Canada and hasn’t lost in the series since 2001.
[KASSOUF: Three observations for USA-Canada]The U.S. had the best of the early chances, including a corner, a free kick from Lauren Holiday, and a great shot on target that forced a save from Erin McLeod in the 7th minute. Heather O’Reilly had a terrific attempt that McLeod tipped over the bar. Nothing came from the ensuing corner, but McLeod did well to keep the U.S. at bay while Canada looked to settle in and get comfortable.
The supporters have not forgotten what happened when these two teams met during the 2012 London Olympics and in the 14th minute the crowd began to sarcastically count as Hope Solo took her time before kicking the ball away. Solo’s counterpart was reminded by that game in Manchester, England, by the play of Canada in Winnipeg.
“I thought it was a great game for us,” McLeod said.” I thought that we came out at them pretty well, it reminds me of the Olympic performance. We didn’t sit back, we were very physical. Tactically there were a couple of things we were going to try and they worked really well. We had a lead for so much of the game, and it kind of hurt that they got one, but at the same time for us to be upset about a tie against the Americans is an awesome feeling.”
Canada seemed content with booting the ball up the pitch whenever the U.S. got anywhere near the Canadian box. Buchanan continued to be a thorn in the side of Abby Wambach. The world’s all-time leading scorer was given no space or time to do anything in the first half. O’Reilly earned her team a free kick in the 24th minute after the West Virginia University defender took her down.
The young Canadian back four the United States played a strong opening 45 minutes, and Schmidt, Scott, and Wilkinson were able to connect with precise passing play.
John Herdman and former Canadian men’s national team defender Jason deVos have been working on corners all week at training. Canada have been emphasizing and teaching young defenders like Buchanan how to position themselves correctly during a corner. It paid off on Thursday, when Buchanan leaped up and headed home Diana Matheson’s corner past Hope Solo. The crowd erupted, as Canada had finally broken through with a crucial goal against their biggest rival.
Kadeisha Buchanan was the big story in the first half as she gave out hard tackles, and scored a terrific goal. Jill Ellis’ side didn’t look all that determined to score after a flurry of action in the first 10 minutes. Canada’s confidence grew, and their passing and ball possession resulted in an important goal.
Wambach was able to sneak behind Buchanan in the 52nd minute and she almost headed home the equalizing goal. Lauren Holiday sent in a lovely cross that Wambach got her head on, but McLeod came up with a huge save that she didn’t know much about.
“Yeah, I kind of laughed it was a bit flukey,” the Canadian goalkeeper said. “I like to pretend like I planned that, but it happened how it happened. Sometimes you get a bit of luck and all you can do is laugh about it.”
All was going well for Canada, but just as the sun began to set on Investors Group Field, Leroux came out of nowhere to score the tying goal. Crystal Dunn entered the match in the 58th minute and she played a big role in the Leroux equalizer. The Washington Spirit rookie sent in a cross that Rebecca Quinn headed backwards to a wide open and unmarked Leroux for the tap-in.
Canada had a great showing, and played one of the best matches they’ve played in recent memory against the U.S. Jill Ellis was able to get her team to re-group, and focus on earning a result after Canada played a strong defensive first half.
Canada’s youth showed great promise, while the U.S. still looks for an identity under interim head coach Jill Ellis.
Canada Starting XI: Erin McLeod, Rhian Wilkinson, Kadeisha Buchanan, Rebecca Quinn, Sura Yekka, Diana Matheson, Desiree Scott, Christine Sinclair (C), Sophie Schmidt, Josee Belanger, Jonelle Filigno.
USA Starting XI: Hope Solo; Ali Krieger, Whitney Engen, Becky Sauerbrunn, Meghan Klingenberg, Carli Lloyd, Morgan Brian, Lauren Holiday, Heather O’Reilly, Sydney Leroux, Abby Wambach(C).
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