||1||1||Leonie Maier 53'|
The Road to the 2015 World Cup for Canada's women's team was always going to be rocky from the outset, and today was no different as Canada's defense weathered massive pressure from the Germans for 90 minutes, while creating very little up front. They did have a look or two at goal, but when the final whistle blew, it's kind of hard to argue that 1-0, with a goal coming from Leonie Maier off a brilliant run, wasn't a fair result.
Both teams came into the match with experimental lineups, the hosts trying out new players in the run up towards their own continental championship, while Canada called up a number of younger players to compliment the cabal of NWSL regulars. Coming off a confident showing against the United States just weeks earlier, Kadeisha Buchanan was handed a start, while Seattle University product Melissa Busque was given her first cap. It promised to be a testing ground of a match, and from the get go that proved true.
Erin McLeod was put under pressure consistently through the match, coming up with saves consistently on the German attackers. But the latter didn't really help themselves either; the Germans had 15 corners in the match compared to none for the Canadians, and the visitors found themselves barely troubled by any of them. Many of the Germans' chances came from open play, with Celia Okoyino da Mbabi being the major aggressor, with Dzsenifer Marozsán playing secondary. However, the young Buchanan simply laughed off the threats, playing confidently in the middle of the just about solid Canadian defense.
That's not to say that the back line had the best day ever, either; Desiree Scott had a match to forget with a number of giveaways early in the first half that allowed Germany to have some decent looks at goal, and a crumple tackle with a German midfielder in the second half that could easily have been a yellow. Meanwhile her FC Kansas City teammate Lauren Sesselmann picked up a knock on a slide tackle in the first, and was replaced by Chelsea Stewart at the half. However, Rhian Wilkinson had an excellent match in her place, and easily was the best defender of the group.
Canada created little up front, Diana Matheson had a good shot at putting Canada up early around the 14th minute, just missing a cross from captain Christine Sinclair in what was Canada's best chance. But for all the defensive pressure the Canadians soaked up, something was going to give sooner or later, and it was Leonie Maier that would finally make them pay. Maier would finally find the back of the net for the home side, off a lovely cross shot that McLeod could not save. That would be the only scoring of the match, but Germany didn't let up, and the defensive effort was a full 90 minute effort. Late sub Rachel Melhado came on and immediately conceded a free kick in a dangerous spot; silliness aside, the youngsters showed absolutely no nerves, Buchanan and Melhado meshed in perfectly with their veteran teammates, something that definitely can be looked forward to.
Once the goal was scored though, Canada seemed to get a little more forward; Carmelina Moscato saved what was a certain goal by da Mbabi minutes earlier, and in the 85th minute debutant Melissa Busque would have a run into the Germany box but held onto the ball for far too long, cancelling out what could have been an excellent chance with three Canadians in the vicinity of goal. That would be Canada's last chance, as the match petered out to a 1-0 win in front of a packed house in Paderborn. But don't take this game as some lame friendly though, there were some shenanigans from the Germans during the free kick, a German forward was shown on the replay to have given Sinclair a nice dig, something she would reciprocate minutes later on a German defender on a rush into the offensive half.
On the surface it looked like a rough match, and in a sense it was. Canada was barely able to threaten the German goal, and many of the few run-ins into the offensive half that Sinclair had, were quickly snuffed out by the German defenders. It doesn't make for pretty viewing and probably does little to inspire confidence, but the play of the younger players like Buchanan and Melhado gives heart to the Canadian supporter; but again the gap in talent is evident between the two sides, and highlights Canada's need for a ball-winner in the midfield, amongst other needs.
It will fall to John Herdman and his coaching staff to find that person and the other pieces to ensure Canada can make a long run in 2015 and beyond (and also to replace aging stars), but right now, this one way traffic is definitely not a pretty sight.
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WTR'S GOLDEN TROPHIES/SHAKES OF OUR HEAD
|A Golden Trophy to...Erin McLeod||Amazing saves kept the scoreline respectable.|
|A Shake of Our Head to...Desiree Scott||A horrible game, to say the least.|
|A Golden Trophy to...Kadeisha Buchanan||Played like a true vet; no fear at all.|