This game played out pretty much as you’d expect, although it looked like Canada – despite having little of the ball – was gaining in confidence before they relaxed for a moment and got burned by a wonderful Japanese opener in the 33rd minute (Nahomi Kawasumi). A second snafu just before halftime allowed Aya Miyama to score a header of all things, and all appeared lost. But Canada played much better in the second half, and that may give them some confidence going forward, even if they lost Candace Chapman to injury (with Emily Zurrer out), leaving their backline a little low on numbers. Unfortunately, Sweden doesn’t look like any less of a test.
1) Japan did what France was trying to do today
They aren’t quite as dominant as the Spanish men, but they can be as fun to watch game in and game out. Their first goal was magnificent, Shinobu Ohno saw her spot, made a run, then made a stellar backheel to Kawasumi coming behind her and that was that. It wasn’t the only time that their movement and one-touch passing were praise-worthy on the game. The obvious question is whether is translates into goals, it did enough to win them the World Cup, but regardless of how far they go, I’m sure they’ll be fun to watch.
2) Melissa Tancredi may hold the key to Canada
Tancredi came alive in the second half, and with Christine Sinclair desperately needing help up front, eventually her hard work resulted in the goal that got Canada back into it. It’s going to be tough enough for the Canadians to hold the ball up top, they definitely need Tancredi to join in and give them a chance to get forward.
3) Canada could be in trouble in the back, though
If Chapman’s injury keeps her out at all, and Emily Zurrer’s hamstring keeps her from coming back, that’s trouble, I’m afraid. Carmelina Moscato did not impress me in the friendly matches leading up to the World Cup, while Lauren Sesselmann (who had a great goal line save) got banged up as well. Add in that Erin McLeod made a pretty serious error coming out on Japan’s second goal, and it’s hard to have too much confidence going forward, especially against Sweden (a Karina LeBlanc sighting in that game, possibly). But that’s why I’m here and John Herdman gets paid the big bucks.