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A Shoddy Sequel: Canada draw New Zealand

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It was a draw that felt like a loss, and it has put a damper on what has felt like a red and white celebration ever since Canada 2015 kicked off.

Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

For 90 plus minutes of Canada's second game of the 2015 Women's World Cup against New Zealand it really did feel like a re-run. As time was expiring the Canadian team was slowly getting closer and closer to the Kiwi goal, looking for another dramatic late winner.

So time ran out on a second straight fairy tale ending, it was more surprising than it should have been. The 0-0 draw felt like an abrupt halt to the nation's soccer momentum.

What remains in the epilogue is not all that positive. After just two games Canada have only scored once, from a penalty kick, after two separate opponents essentially invited them forward.

New Zealand was far more aggressive than China, however, and this in itself caused major problems for the Canadian backline. If not for the crossbar a penalty would have meant a loss for Canada this time around.

Erin McLeod had to stand tall on a couple of other occasions in the Canadian net as the back line looked questionable at best for the second straight game. They haven't conceded yet, but have needed a lot of help from the woodwork to keep that a reality.

The Lauren Sesselmann at centreback experiment hasn't looked good so far, something acknowledged by Canadian manager John Herdman when he replaced her with Carmelina Moscato. The worrying thing is that Moscato really didn't look all that much better.

If it wasn't for Kadeisha Buchanan at the back there is a chance that Canada could be on zero points after the first two matches. Thankfully she has been nothing but fantastic, Canada's player of the tournament so far without a doubt.

Herdman, for his part, might want to eat a couple of his words right now as he boasted pre-match that Canada was a significantly better team than the Kiwis, who he used to coach.

It looks like Canada's coach did a better job with his former employer than he thought, because there wasn't much to pick apart the teams in this one. Another concerning fact.

In the attack Canada looked out of ideas until Kaylyn Kyle came on and started delivering some good balls forward. The Canadian midfield looked best when it was her alongside Sophie Schmidt, Desiree Scott and Ashley Lawrence.

Lawrence actually had a bit of a standout performance, even if she couldn't kick start the Canadian offense. She is certainly one of the most skilled players on the team, and knows how to kick off a good counter-attack as well.

After two matches Canada still sits where they envisioned themselves: at the top of Group A. However, the path they have taken to get there is hardly the easy route and could hurt them as they get closer to the mountain's peak.

That means the last game of the group for Canada, against the Netherlands on Monday, becomes significantly more important than they were probably hoping it would be.

First off, they still need a result in that game to guarantee a place in the round of 16. Knockout football is the bare minimum requirement for this team.

However it also means they will be expected to use the game as proof that they are better than they have shown so far this tournament. Another slim victory or uninspiring draw won't do, this team needs to look like a contender for the first time in the tournament.

The good news is that it is far from over for this Canadian team. On four points there is little doubt that knockout stage soccer awaits and once they get there anything can happen.

It goes without saying that the time and place to have a dud performance in cup soccer is the Group Stage as once you get to the knockouts there is no room for error.

Maybe it's better that there wasn't another lucky bounce that went Canada's way late. It meant Canada wasn't rewarded again for playing sub-par soccer and will now have to look long and hard in the mirror before proceeding.