The 2021 SheBelieves Cup: CANWNT Preview and Projections

SheBelieves Cup

EDITORIAL – The CANWNT will be making their first-ever SheBelieves Cup appearance next month. They have been grouped with Argentina, Brazil, and the United States of America. The games will be done in a group stage format and each team will play three games. The team that finishes first at the end of the group stage will win the 2021 SheBelieves Cup.

The CANWNT: 2021 SheBelieves Cup Preview

Argentina

Argentina, which is currently tied for 31st in the FIFA rankings, will make their first-ever SheBelieves Cup appearance this year. They have made the FIFA Women’s World Cup three times. This includes making the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. However, they are the only team in the tournament not to make the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Of the three teams in the tournament, Argentina is the only team that does not have a favourable overall record against Canada.

They had faced each other four times, with Canada winning all four games. The last time these two teams met was in the 2011 Pan-American Games where Canada won 1-0 at Guadalajara, Mexico. However, a lot has changed since then as Argentina had its first-ever points in a FIFA Women’s World Cup. They tied with both Japan and Scotland, which resulted in getting two points in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Both games ended in a draw with both teams getting one point each.

Argentina right now only has one NWSL player. That player’s name is Mariana Larroquette. She will start to play in the NWSL with the Kansas City NWSL expansion team this year. She will also be a player to watch if she plays in the 2021 SheBelieves Cup. Since playing for the Argentinian national team since 2014, she has made 16 appearances and scored eight goals.

This is what current KC NWSL head coach Huw Williams said about Larroquette’s abilities:

“Mariana is a talented player who competes creatively and tenaciously. We are happy to sign Mariana as our team’s first-ever free agent.”

According to US Soccer, Japan withdrew from the SheBelieves Cup because of the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic in their country. As a result, they were replaced by Argentina in the 2021 SheBelieves Cup.

Brazil

Brazil’s women’s national team has the same ranking as the Canadian women’s national team. They are both tied for eighth in the FIFA rankings. Brazil has won 11 games, and seven games lost and tied each against Canada. However, it has been Canada that had the better of Brazil recently. In the last three games, Canada has won two games and drew one game. This includes defeating host nation Brazil in the bronze medal game of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

There are likely to be two-three professional soccer players to come from the NWSL. This includes Brazilian captain Marta, who currently plays for the Orlando Pride. Marta has contributed greatly to her country, as she currently has 108 goals in her international career. This places her eighth in all-time goals internationally. She has also excelled with the Pride, scoring 23 goals in 55 appearances.

Débora Cristiane de Oliveira (also known as Debinha) is the other NWSL player. She currently plays for the North Carolina Courage. She has played for the Brazilian national team since 2011, scoring 38 goals in 99 appearances. Debinha has also played well for Courage. In 2017, she scored the team’s first-ever home goal against the Portland Thorns FC. That goal was also the game-winner as the Courage defeated the Thorns 1-0 in the 2017 NWSL season. Overall, she has scored 24 goals in 70 appearances for the Courage.

Lastly, there is also Camila Martins Pereira, who has scored five goals in 49 appearances for the Pride. She has currently been loaned to Brazilian club Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras.

USA

The two-time defending FIFA Women’s World Cup champions are the favourites to win their second-straight SheBelieves Cup. The Americans, who are ranked first in the world, will be the team to beat. Big credit to their success is their professional women’s soccer league, the NWSL. For example, the Portland Thorns FC averaged 20,098 fans per game in the 2019 NWSL season. The NWSL is also the most attended pro women’s soccer league in the world.

Since the NWSL is based in the U.S., there are several players who play in the league. So, this article will only cover a few, most notably, Lindsey Horan of the Thorns. In 2018, she had a breakthrough NWSL season, scoring 13 goals in 22 games.

Julie Ertz has been with the Red Stars since 2014, scoring six goals in 79 appearances. However, what she is most known for is her ability to win the ball in the midfield. Jill Ellis, former head coach of the American national team said this about Ellis and why she is so important for the American national team.

“Seeing her play there frequently with her club is certainly beneficial. We looked at different players in that spot, but ultimately it’s just a really good fit for her.”

Ertz won the 2019 Female Player of the Year Award for the U.S. This was an important year as the Americans won the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup against the Netherlands. There are also other players that play overseas. Most notably is Alex Morgan (who is tied for ninth all-time for goals scored internationally), who has scored 107 goals in 170 appearances for the American women’s national team.

The Americans also have a very favourable record against Canada. Winning 50 times, tying seven times, and only losing three times. Canada has not defeated the US in competitive play since the 2001 Algarve Cup. The last time Canada faced the U.S. was a 3-0 loss in the Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Final.

Overview of the CANWNT and their SheBelieves Cup Overview

The SheBelieves Cup will be a difficult cup to win for Team Canada. Yes, Canada has the second-most NWSL players of the four nations playing in the SheBelieves Cup. This includes players like Christine Sinclair (who has scored the most goals in international play) and Sophie Schmidt. However, the improvements seen in professional soccer leagues, particularly in Europe have made soccer more competitive globally.

Furthermore, Canada’s results as of the late need to improve as they barely got past Costa Rica last year. The expectation for Canada is to finish either second or third. The U.S. is a very strong team and is playing at home. However, Canada should be expected to beat Argentina and has a realistic chance of beating Brazil.

Canada will be playing at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida from February 18-24. Their first game will be against the Americans on February 18th. The Canadian women’s national team will then play against Argentina on February 21st and end their tournament against Brazil on February 24th. All CANWNT games in the SheBelieves Cup will be shown on OneSoccer, a subscription-based streaming service.

Embed from Getty Images


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.