Team Canada narrowly fails in Concacaf W Championship final against USA – Team Canada

AP Photo/Fernando Llano

The longstanding women’s soccer rivalry between Canada and the United States produced another memorable and consequential clash on Monday night.

The Americans prevailed 1-0 from a late penalty in the Concacaf W Championship final, avenging Canada’s very similar win in the semi-finals at Tokyo 2020.

This competition served as a qualifying tournament for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup and for Paris 2024. Canada qualified for the World Cup thanks to their top-four finish, but only the USA secured a spot at the next Summer Olympics by winning the final.

Canada will have another chance to qualify for Paris with a play-off against Jamaica in September 2023. The Jamaicans beat Costa Rica in the tournament’s third-place game earlier on Monday.

A hard-fought final

The Canadians and Americans entered the final with identical records: four wins in four games with 12 goals scored and none conceded. Canada had been in calm control for the vast majority of their previous four games.

But against the Americans, ranked No. 1 in the world, it was, predictably, a whole different story.

In the first minute of the match, Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan had to show some quick hands to prevent American striker Mallory Pugh from close range. Three minutes later, Alex Morgan again sent Sheridan sprawled, but his shot curled just past the goal post.

The Canadians also had their first chances thanks to Nichelle Prince. The 27-year-old had several shots on goal from the left side, including a 17th-minute shot that deflected off an American defender and then the crossbar.

Things then settled into a back and forth possession battle, with both teams looking for ways to unlock the opposing defence.

Pugh had another quality chance in the 31st minute, capping a 50-yard offensive run with a hard-hitting shot. But Sheridan was up to it, rushing to catch the ball in the air. She had an even better chance 10 minutes later. A turnover in midfield gave the Americans a 4-2 run, but Pugh put his shot over Sheridan’s crossbar.

Sheridan won again just before half-time in a rush to the goal area with American striker Sophia Smith. The ball bounced near the goal line but Sheridan, with help from defender Kadeisha Buchanan, kept it out of the net.

leave it late

USA increased the pressure in the second half and it almost paid off in the 64th minute, as Morgan put Smith on goal with an excellent through ball. Smith found his way around a charging Sheridan but put his final shot into the side netting.

As she had done in previous matches, Canadian head coach Priestman brought in the attacking trio of Julia Grosso, Jordyn Huitema and Adriana Leon as second-half substitutes. But it was the Americans who continued to pepper the Canadian goal with dangerous opportunities.

The barrage finally broke in the 76th minute when Allysha Chapman, who had also come on as a substitute for the injured Jayde Rivière, was found guilty of fouling Rose Lavelle inside the penalty area.

Morgan stepped in to take the penalty and, as she has done before in her career, broke the Canadians’ hearts by scoring the winning goal.

Canada threw everything they had at the Americans in the final 10 minutes of the game. Jessie Fleming unleashed a long-range effort in the 84th minute, but it was managed by USA goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.

In the 88th minute, Huitema headed in a long cross from Chapman, but put it just above Naeher’s goal. It was as close as Canada would come, as the Americans ran out of time with substitutions and conscious possession.

Although the team fell short of their Olympic qualification goal, two Canadians were recognized for their individual achievements. Grosso was named the tournament’s top scorer, while Sheridan received the honor of top goalkeeper.

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