Winnipeg, Canada-For those expecting to take in an a casual international friendly between the U.S. Women’s national team and their Canadian neighbors, someone forgot to inform the players. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw with this match marking their second meeting this year. Both national teams brought an intensity usually saved for a bigger stage and showed why this rivalry is growing with each game.
The first half featured a U.S. team that wasn’t able to capitalize on their 4-4-3 formation that had Abby Wambach on the front line surrounded by Sydney Leroux and Heather O’Reilly. Though the team had opportunities in the first several minutes, Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod showed why she is one of the best in the world by keeping the U.S. attack largely at bay.
The Canadians didn’t notch their first shot on goal until the 36th minute, but they broke open the game with a goal by Kadeisha Buchanan. Buchanan headed the ball into the upper left portion of the goal off of a Diana Matheson corner. It was the first international goal for the 18 year-old.
Buchanan also showed she wasn’t afraid to be a physical force on the backline for Canada despite her youth. Buchanan took O’Reilly down in a rough slide tackle halfway through the first half and then brought fellow forward Wambach to her knees with another questionable tackle at the end of the first forty-five minutes.
The 66th minute nearly brought the equalizer for the U.S. when O’Reilly missed wide right from a few yards out after a brilliant cross from midfielder Carli Lloyd.
Yet it was Leroux who was able to tie the match in dramatic fashion in the 78th minute when she drove the ball past McLeod after a poor clearance by the Canadian defense. Crystal Dunn, playing at the right back position delivered a beautiful cross that bounced off the head of a Canadian defender to the feet of Leroux.
Leroux, with dual citizenship who chose to play for the U.S. several years ago, has a knack for scoring against her home country and came up big by saving the Americans from what would have been a disappointing loss.
The U.S. Women were led by interim coach Jill Ellis who took over the head coaching position after Tom Sermanni was let go after only fourteen months on the job. Due to a poor showing at the Algarve Cup in March, the U.S. Soccer Federation relieved Sermanni of his duties following a match against China last month.
Ellis is considered to be one of the top candidates for the position with an announcement expected in the next few weeks per U.S. Soccer.
The game took place in front of over 28,000 fans at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, one of the sites of next summer’s Women’s FIFA World Cup. It gave the Americans a chance to check out the turf that has drawn criticism from a number of the players who prefer grass to the slick surface of field turf.
The U.S. Women will return to their respective club teams with their next national team duties coming in June. There are two friendlies scheduled against France, the first on June 14th in Tampa, FL and the second a few days later on June 19th in Hartford, CT.