Leroux equalizer forces USWNT draw in Canada

Leroux USWNT ISI

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By CAITLIN MURRAY

It looks like Jill Ellis’ odds of becoming the U.S. Women’s National Team coach might’ve just gotten a bit worse.

In what was likely her last match as interim coach of the USWNT before U.S. Soccer decides on a permanent replacement, the USWNT settled for a 1-1 draw Thursday against a Canadian side that outplayed the Americans for most of the match.

As the rivalry since the dramatic 2012 Olympics showdown between these two sides seems to dictate, it was Canadian-born Sydney Leroux who silenced the rowdy Canadian crowd of 28,255 in Manitoba and scored the late equalizer for the Americans.

In a rare poor clearance by a Canadian defense that had been quickly quelling the American’s best efforts in the final third all game, a loose ball in the box bounced to Leroux’s feet for a deft far post finish in the 78th minute.

The Canadians looked to be the better team Thursday, connecting well up the field on the attack and forcing frequent turnovers on defense. It was their finishing that betrayed them as they forced few saves out of Hope Solo and were well out-shot, 14-4.

Canada opened scoring from 18-year-old defender Kadeisha Buchanan, who headed a Diana Matheson cross to an undefended far post and past Solo. The 35th-minute goal robbed Solo of tying Briana Scurry’s all-time USWNT clean sheet record of 71 games.

Christine Sinclair nearly brought Canada ahead again a minute after Leroux’s equalizer, sliding onto a loose ball that skipped just inches wide of goal.

The result will likely be a confidence-builder for the Canadians as they prepare to host the women’s World Cup next year, with some matches played at the same venue for Thursday’s friendly, Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

But for an American squad in transition, the performance may raise even more questions as they look for a new leader and ahead to next year’s tournament.

U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati had said he planned to name a new USWNT coach in mid-May after the Canada-USA friendly and Ellis has said she wants the job. But former assistant USWNT coach Tony Gustavsson is also in the running and ESPN analyst Julie Foudy reported Thursday that former USWNT coach Tony DiCicco, another suspected short list candidate, had been interviewed by U.S. Soccer for the job.

Coach Tom Sermanni was fired a month ago after the USWNT ended a 43-game unbeaten streak and suffered their worst loss in team history. Gulati and players had said Sermanni was not a right “cultural fit.”

Ellis again fielded the USWNT in a 4-3-3 – which could become the squad’s formation of choice as they look to get more of its forwards in front of goal – with Abby Wambach playing target forward and Leroux and Heather O’Reilly on the wings. But the Americans struggled to find a rhythm and couldn’t capitalize on their chances as Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod came up with a few massive saves.

Watch highlights of the match below:

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22 Responses to Leroux equalizer forces USWNT draw in Canada

  1. a says:

    whats the deal? why’s the WNT been so less than SUPERSTAR the past few months? usually they’re winning by 5-0 games and lately seems they’re in a funk. is it because the players want a new style? are they breaking in newer stars? are we just wanting different from them?

    • Brent from Waco says:

      I just think overall the women’s game is just getting better.

    • Ezra says:

      Morgan’s been injured + Abby’s looked awful + Coach being fired + Canada getting better = tie game

      • Chris says:

        Abby is looking worse every game. I hope the new coach is willing to bench her, because she’s definitely not a starter anymore. Keep her on the team in case we need a late goal and we’re reduced to lobbing long balls into the box, but otherwise her time has passed.

        • Citronomics says:

          I agree Chris. Watched the game last night and Abby got bossed by the Canadian CB (not using hyperbole here…), and seems to have lost some ability to hold off, turn defenders that you know are going to be on her.

    • Ali Dia says:

      In my view, it is many, many things. It is a difficult thing to process… One core factor is that soccer has only recently joined the extremely limited ranks of “team sports women can play and earn a professional income” (and many would dispute that this is even true, given the actual wages paid and the uncertainty of the career path). As such, the nat’l team dynamic is different and longer-cycled. A player’s likelihood of establishing herself as a long-term starter is based to a much higher degree on performances in the nat’l team setup over the past 5 years, rather than club form, which is at-best difficult to monitor and does not offer any prospect of stardom compared to the int’l arena.

      The other major factor here is the expectation level we have for our women compared to our men. In a bizarre way, the ’99 USWNT is like the ’92 US Mens Basketball team (aka the “Dream Team”). The ironic impact on the “average” US sports fan is that subsequent triumph in these competitions yields a sense of relief rather than pride, and failure causes people to dismiss the relevance of the competition entiriely.

      This is a lot of pressure for these women to deal with– a poor showing at a WC or Olympics genuinely jeopardizes the professional opportunities for the current and future player pool. This is entirely different from how we feel about the USMNT, who all can look forward a professional income for their entire careers, and who don’t face the prospect of lynching when they don’t finish a major tournament with elite hardware

    • z says:

      Part of the problem stems from Sermanni’s constantly shifting lineups. Changing out half the team from game to game leads to an obvious lack of chemistry between the players, which leads to poor communication and players not being anywhere near being on the same page with passes and runs they need to make. Another part of the problem is using players in positions they’re not suited for, O’Reilly isn’t a forward, wide or otherwise, and Brian isn’t a defensive holding mid. There’s also an over reliance on a fast fading Abby Wambach that needs to be addressed immediately because not even Alex Morgan returning can fix how poor she’s been playing for the better part of the last year. Getting some players back, like Morgan, Rapinoe, O’Hara, Heath, might help, if they get played in the right positions. But the next coach really needs to use the players properly and build back the chemistry that made their games so much fun to watch, a team clicking on the same page and playing as a whole is better than a team of talented players that aren’t playing as a team.

      • USAFan says:

        Tend to agree about Brian not being a holding midfielder, but she is aan excellent player almost certainly one of the top 23. Where would you play her? Up top? Attacking mid? She has shown a lot. In fact, it is amazing that she has done as well as she has in the holding midfield spot given that doesn’t seem to be her natural position.

  2. dude1 says:

    Canada is far from a bad team. But the fear is, that the US has become too high maintenance of a squad. That it needs a very, very talented coach to keep the the engine purring. The team needs to soul search a little, IMO. Their success can’t hinge on having a coach as talented as Pia.

    • The Garrincha says:

      Dud1, I would say you are mostly correct accept for the fact that they could have Hope Powell, who was a soccer prodigy, and is much more of an evolutionary coach I dare say than Pia was, she had the luxury of having Wam, in her prime, this is obviously not the case any more.
      The USWNT has an abundance of attacking midfielders, false 9’s
      and perhaps a true number 10 or two. this 4-3-3 formation is archaic and ineffective ,(to be used sparingly in the rite situation for maybe a half?) furthermore it was not very appealing or attractive soccer. A 4-5-1 with Wam, as a one may work better with the talent available.
      One could see very few good chances created and possession given away too easily.
      Not having players such as Tymrak, Hagen, Rapinoe and Heath left the team with very few with the quality to take on players in the attacking 3rd.
      In closing, somewhere there is a good mix of youth and experience.
      Canada started THREE teenagers, and the player of the match was their 18 year old phenom Bucannon, already looking more and more like the best women’s defender in the world.

    • STT says:

      I wouldn’t say Pia was a “talented” coach – good, yes, but not amazing. Sweden hasn’t really benefited much from have her on board, either. It’s just that, under Pia, there weren’t really an upswell of younger talent to challenge the veterans. She could play the old starters and no-one would really question it. Younger talent then started coming on board, fans started criticizing, and then Pia jumped ship for Tom to take over a talent pool ready to explode. I’m not saying the players caused his outing, but just having so many options made it hard to balance seeing the new talent with settling on a squad, and he wasn’t given enough time to try all the different permutations to see what worked best. I do think that the vets are becoming high-maintenance, though.

  3. Riel says:

    Despite the goal from Benedict Arnold, the bad karma stung the US.

  4. wood chip zip says:

    So Abby got what she wanted, three forwards so she can still start. Look how that’s working out. And good coach and good guy got fired over it.

  5. bluenun says:

    1) Abbey has have a lesser role. She spends more time on the ground and waving her arms than scoring.
    2) We need Morgan, Heath, Rapinoe and O,Hara on the field. Team has more of a flow when they are.
    3) This 4-3-3 formation does NOT work for us. We don’t score goals.
    4) Time for Cox, Loyden and Klingenberg to go for many reasons.

    We have to start building some team chemistry and flow!

  6. kernel_thai says:

    Two things r worrying. First Canada plain out hustled the US. No matter what system u r playing ur not going to win like that. Second, this was Jill Ellis chance to plan a game strategy for a very predictable and well know opponent. She failed miserably. She somehow got out coached by John Herdman which is something Sermanni had never done.

  7. Waiting says:

    Couldn’t agree more. It was scarier still that Ellis couldn’t adjust tactics and personnel enough to give the US control. You get the sense the vets want her because she’ll let them do as they please. Unfortunately that doesn’t work now and certainly won’t in 2015 and 2016.

    It’s seemed the US Soccer was hoping for an emphatic victory in Winnipeg so they could appoint Ellis permanent coach. WIthout it, and with the team’s problems revealed even more starkly, will they move on to the reported #2 candidate, Gustavsson? If not, the pretense of a search will be revealed as a sham. It will be very interesting to see what happens next.

  8. Warren says:

    It’s this kind of performance that made me sad that Sermanni was let go. If the USWNT wants to stay on top, we need to begin transitioning out the older players and making room for the new players to step in and grow. As quite a number of the USMNT players of old knew, you’ve got to pass the torch.

  9. Brittany says:

    Really wish O’Hara would have played. I feel like she has been forgotten about and has been kicking but for Sky Blue. But if Ellis wants a natural lefty as LB she might be in some trouble because I’m not sure she is naturally left footed. Dunn is great but I honestly feel she should be in the midfield if we are going to do this 4-3-3.

    • Alex says:

      Agree. O’Hara and Dunn need to be the starters and replacements. Kling should not be a starter. Dunn changed the game when she came on. And Ellis subbing Rampone in for Engen was a WTF move when our mid/forwards were struggling and Engen was fine