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Match report: Canada falls 3-2 to Germany in women’s international friendly

It was a roller-coaster of a match in Hamilton.

Martin Bazyl / Canada Soccer

Match timeline:

1’ Canada 0-1 Germany [Svenja Huth] — Lena Petermann at 60 yards rolls the ball forward past Kedeisha Buchanan and finds Svenja Huth in alone at 45 yards in the middle between Shelina Zadorsky and Rebecca Quinn. As those two defenders close in to catch her at 25 yards Zadorsky pokes the ball away but over to the right where Huth recovers just inside box and shoots a low 20-yarder past Zadorsky into the left corner of the net past goalie Stephanie Labbe.

58’ Canada 1-1 Germany [Christine Sinclair] — Janine Beckie’s free kick from 25 yards on the right is bent into a charging crowd of players at the edge of the six-yard box. A defender heads the ball down and to the left where it bounces off Quinn. Christine Sinclair turns back and pokes the ball to the 15 yard line on the left and Quinn spins and sends in a cross. The ball eventually falls to Sinclair at on the left side of the net and she pops a header over goalie Carina Schluter.

67’ Canada 2-1 Germany [Jessie Fleming] — Sophie Schmidt intercepts a back pass at the 25 yard line by stepping in front of a defender, then turns and sends a low cross between two defenders just outside box. Sinclair with another defender in front of her dummies the pass and lets the ball roll through. Jessie Fleming stops the ball, steps forward, and shoots low between Joelle Wedemeyer’s legs and into the left corner of the net past the goalie doing the splits six yards out.

69’ Canada 2-2 Germany [Sara Dabritz] — Dabritz rushes up the right from 50 yards out and from with Buchanan closing in on her she blasts a shot into the top right side of the net over the flying goalie.

83’ Canada 2-3 Germany [Turid Knaak] — Dabritz shoots 20-yard free kick around the six man wall and the flying goalie gets a hand to push it into the left post where it deflects back across the box. Knaak heads in into the open net from three yards out.

Robin Glover / Waking the Red

Attendance was a sellout crowd of 22,826 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton on this mild and sunny day with a strong breeze from the north. One year ago less a day, Canada drew 20,628 to BMO Field in Toronto for a 6-0 win against Costa Rica.

This was a game of the FIFA’s third- and fourth-ranked women’s teams (Germany and Canada, respectively). The Germans were using a “B” team, though, so I was told (I don’t follow them closely). All the German players in this game play in the German league. Canada was assembled a few days ago and has three players in this league but also ten in the NWSL, two from NCAA schools, two in France, two from the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite, and goalie Stephanie Labbe, who’s not attached to any club at the moment. A colleague at my workplace said she saw the German team touring Niagara Falls on Friday afternoon.

Canada was using a new 3-5-2 formation but were badly burned less than a minute into the game when Kedeisha Buchanan was caught upfield. After that they settled down and both teams played fairly evenly. Canada even took the lead but the next minute Germany ran upfield and tied it then scored the winner with less than ten minutes to go.

This was Christine Sinclair’s 173rd international goal and she has retired American star Abby Wambach’s record of 184 in her sights. At the press conference (where the record wasn’t mentioned) new head coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller and captain Sinclair said they were happy to have this Tier 1 competition as it will set them up well for World Cup qualifying. Heiner-Moller also praised goalscorer Jessie Fleming and 72nd-minute sub Nichelle Prince who he said was a good impact player and was more dangerous coming off the bench. He was happy with Canada’s resilience to catch up and take the lead. Sinclair said the team was in a good space and adding a new formation (3-5-2) adds another dimension and they expect to qualify.

Elsewhere on Sunday, the Canadian U-17s lost their CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship semi-final game against Mexico in Florida and have one more chance with a must-win game against Haiti. Canada faced a similar situation earlier this year in a third place game which they lost, and failed to qualify for the U-20 Women's World Cup.

This is the only game for Canada’s senior women’s team until World Cup qualifying starts in early October with Canada getting a bye until the final eight. The Germans don’t have another match scheduled in the near future. I was surprised they were here and didn’t play the top-ranked USA. Still, it’s better than the Canadian men’s team who have let the latest FIFA window go by without one game. The USA has had three matches in the last two weeks.

I talked to Cyle Larin, who was at the Sigma FC League1 Ontario game on Saturday about Canada missing an opportunity and he could only shrug. Canada will be in the new CONCACAF Nations League starting in September which will at least force them to play internationals. I asked officials at Soccer Canada watching the women’s game about this. Their answer was that Canada did play New Zealand. Hmm... but that was back on March 24! The home games Canada will play are not great draws — U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Kitts and Nevis.