||0||1||1||Ellen White 90'+2
|Substitutions||Brown for Bardsley 60'
Nobbs for Asante 60'
Duggan for Aluko 70'
Clarke for Yankey 83'
|Leon for Schmidt 70'
Sjoman for Sesselmann 70'
Zurrer for Wilkinson 72'
Robinson for Cameron 80'
Over the last seven years, TFC has shown us how sitting back and not creating chances usually leads to disaster. Today, it was the Canadian women's team's turn to show us the dangers of such a practice. While Canada were able to generate a few chances, it was mostly a resurgent England, trying to build momentum for a Women's Euro 2013 campaign, that came away from New York Stadium with a 1-0 win, off a late Ellen White header deep into second half stoppage time.
The English team, fresh off having beaten the Canadians in Nicosia, Cyprus in the final of that island's Cup over three weeks ago, was clearly hungry for more revenge after the embarrassment that Canada served to them during the Olympic quarterfinal last year. The Canadians meanwhile are still in a rebuilding phase (where have we heard that one before? Oh right...), with many players thinking about their summer gigs across North America in the National Women's Soccer League. So naturally, you'd assume that there would be a gap in quality based on motivation alone.
If you assumed so, you'd be right. The match opened with both sides feeling out each other, until Steph Houghton would force a save from 'keeper Erin McLeod in the 19th minute. Tiffany Cameron would force two saves from the home keeper Karen Bardsley in the first half, but eventually the English began to take control of the game, with Eniola Aluko and Rachel Yankey (playing in her 125th game) routinely getting chances at McLeod, none more clear than Yankey's corner into the Canadian box at the half hour mark, that Houghton would send skyward.
The Canadians would come out firing, with captain Christine Sinclair's cross finding Cameron, a dangerous shot that forced Bardsley into a crucial save. But after that, it was almost all England when the youngsters were unleashed: Jordan Nobbs and Rachel Brown immediately lifted the home side, inspiring them to further chances. None made their way through including a Fara Williams shot at McLeod in the 66th. Toni Duggan in the 77th, followed by Alex Scott in the 86th also skied their shots, but England remained firmly in control.
Canada almost snatched the opener in the 87th minute when Diana Matheson's run into the England area found Adriana Leon and Sinclair, Leon dummying Sinclair, who took the shot but sent it wide. Ellen White would then make the Canadians pay for their miss in the 2nd minute of stoppage, Jill Scott's pass to Williams was saved, but White was there to put it home in front of 4,900 spectators.
Post-game, coach John Herdman told the media that this was a game for defenders, a fact that was confirmed partially by the selection of Kadeisha Buchanan as player of the match for the Canadians. While he rubbished the match as sloppy on both sides, he also bemoaned the lack of creativity from his charges, something he charges against a lack of critical competition on the horizon. "It will take us awhile to gel, but we are lucky because we have 2-3 years before we play in [the] Women’s World Cup, so it is nice to be able to test a few things at this stage."
It's excellent to see so many new faces being introduced, one being 26-year old Kylla Sjoman, along with the likes of Leon, Cameron and Buchanan; but with only the showdown against the USA coming up on June 2nd at BMO Field, followed by a friendly against Germany in July, there will be very little time for the Canadians to play as a unit, and to gel as such with the NWSL in full swing until late summer. The result and the performance may be concerning for now, but for a rebuilding side, it's another one of those bumps on the road that is to be expected -- even if it feels like it's a step back from the highs of last year.