Alex Morgan put the United States Women’s National Team ahead after the first period but Canada battled back to earn a 1-1 draw in front of a big crowd of 28,017 fans at BC Place in Vancouver. Adriana Leon’s second-half tap-in negated the U.S. lead but the Canadians still haven’t beaten their rivals in 16 years. The USWNT is now 47-3-7 in the all-time series.
It was a messy game overall but Canada played better at the back than the U.S. did for the most part, and the U.S. midfield was non-existent at times in the match. Both teams passed sloppily throughout but after halftime the Canadians looked the better side, especially after five second-half subs by the USWNT, who all failed to make much of an impact.
Jill Ellis went with a 4-3-3 with goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher behind a back line of (L-R) Casey Short, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, and Kelley O’Hara. The midfield consisted of Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis, and Lindsey Horan, behind an attacking line of Megan Rapinoe, Morgan, and Lynn Williams.
Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris was on the bench, while Chioma Ubogagu was left off the match day roster and did not get her first cap.
Both teams came out pressing, creating a frenetic pace to the first half, but it was a sloppy game, with both teams scrambling to avoid pressure and misplaying balls on what appeared to be an awful artificial turf surface. Both teams were passing below 70% throughout the opening period and, as a result, chances were few.
The Canadians had the better play early but couldn’t create any clear-cut chances with their pressure. As a result, the first good chance came on a U.S. counter, with Rapinoe getting down the left side of the box and sending a shot off the inside of the back post that somehow stayed out in the 11th minute.
Deanna Rose sent a soft chip in that Naeher handled on the bounce a few minutes later for Canada’s first shot on target. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. started getting more of the ball and settling into the game. Morgan tried to send Rapinoe in at the 15-minute mark but the Seattle Reign star was a tad offside and the pass was overcooked anyway.
Morgan got hold of a decent strike at the 26-minute mark that skipped in toward the back post but Stephanie Labbe was there for the save. But five minutes later, Morgan drilled a half-volley past Labbe to open the scoring at the 31-minute mark as Canada was unable to clear the ball on a U.S. attack.
Morgan’s goal was her fifth in her last six international appearances and had the visiting USWNT ahead, 1-0.
Canada tried to strike right back after Morgan’s goal, playing the ball over the top and forcing Naeher to make decisions. Adriana Leon tried a shot from a tough angle at 34’ but it was right at the U.S. keeper. A minute later, there was a desperate scramble as the ball got played over the defense and in front of Naeher. The keeper came out but lost possession and O’Hara had to make a huge block of a Christine Sinclair effort to retain the lead.
The U.S. settled down a bit after the Sinclair chance. Morgan earned a free kick on a questionable foul in the 38th minute, setting up a free kick for Horan that was headed for the net before Labbe intervened.
That was about the last good chance of the half for the USWNT. Canada got an opportunity late in the half off a corner but Rebecca Quinn nodded her free header well over the bar.
The U.S. took its 1-0 advantage into the locker room.
That advantage didn’t last too long. Canada came out much more sharp in the second half than the USWNT did. There were a few early warning signs, including Leon getting past Dahlkemper and into the box that required a sliding challenge from O’Hara to break up.
In the 51st minute, Janine Beckie took a cross from Leon all alone at the back post but fired the volley off target. Five minutes after that, Beckie tried a curling effort from distance that Naeher parried over the bar for a Canadian corner.
Canada’s equalizer came off the ensuing corner kick. The initial ball in landed in the box and was sent toward goal but was saved. The rebound came out to Quinn near the top of the box and she fired off the crossbar. Sinclair gathered up that rebound with an overhead kick back across the face of goal and Leon tapped it home to make it 1-1 in the 57th minute.
The United States had a couple of golden opportunities to regain the lead. The first came in the 65th minute, when Ertz sent Rapinoe into the box. Her shot deflected off the defender and changed directions and Labbe was able to kick out a foot at the last second to keep the ball out.
Off a corner kick 11 minutes later, Morgan was denied twice at point-blank range. Horan headed a corner back across the box and it pinged around back out to second-half sub Andi Sullivan on the left. She tried a half-volley shot that missed the target but fell to Morgan at the back post. The Pride striker tried a right-footed shot that Beckie blocked and then an off-balance Morgan tried again with her left as she fell but that too was blocked and we remained tied in the 76th minute.
From that point on, Canada had the better opportunities to find a game winner. Substitute Maegan Kelly came on to make her Canada debut and got involved right away. In the 82nd minute, Kelly fired a shot on target but right at Naeher. Two minutes later, she got in between Taylor Smith and Dahlkemper and took a beautiful pass from Desiree Scott. Naeher got a piece of Kelly’s shot and it was just enough to send it off the far post.
Christen Press nearly set herself up for a shot at a game winner in the 88th, but she took a heavy touch as she tried to cut to her right to free herself for the attempt and the defense was there to thwart the opportunity.
A few minutes later, the full time whistle blew and neither side could claim the victory.
The two teams will do it again Sunday night at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, CA, at 9 p.m. ET. It will be the final game of 2017 for the USWNT.