PREVIEW – Nearly a year after their dramatic semi-final penalty shootout wins at the Tokyo Olympics, the CanWNT will face off against the USWNT again – this time in the CONCACAF Championship W Final. The Olympics represented something of a new chapter in CONCACAF: it was the CanWNT’s first tournament win in a decade and the first time they had beaten the USWNT since 2001.
Both teams had similar routes to the finals: the Americans scored nine goals in the group stage and conceded none, then won their semi-final game against Costa Rica, 3-0. Canada scored nine goals and conceded none in the group stage, and beat Jamaica 3-0 in the semi-finals. However, narratives surrounding each team are vastly different.
CanWNT USMNT Concacaf W Championship Final on Monday
A classic rivalry will write another chapter.
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) July 15, 2022
Beverly Priestman’s super subs
Discussion around Canada has largely surrounded how they can build upon winning the Olympics and continue to be one of the best team’s in the world as Christine Sinclair enters her 40s. Priestman has critiqued her team’s effectiveness in front of goals, but her group has still managed to win each game relatively comfortably.
Their success in this tournament has largely come as a result of the 34-year-old coach’s substitutions.
When Priestman joined on as coach in 2019, she arrived with clear ideas on how to capitalize on Canada’s squad depth.
“I knew coming into this tournament that I wanted to be the best coach at this tournament at utilizing depth and using the five subs, which was unique to this particular tournament,” said Priestman in 2021.
CanWNT’s road to the Concacaf W Championship Final
With the five-sub rule being implemented in this tournament, she has again done great at utilizing all the talent available to her, this has clearly, worked, especially with the first game against Trinidad and Tobago.
In the first game against Trinidad and Tobago, it was a 6-0 win when wonder kids, Julia Grosso and Jordyn Huitema, were brought on. Grosso had a brace and an assist, while Huitema scored a goal. They then won 1-0 against Panama thanks to a game-winning goal by Grosso. For Canada against Costa Rica, it was the veteran Sophie Schmidt who came on and put the game out of reach.
Finally, the CanWNT faced Jamaica in the semi-finals, Adriana Leon came on and put a wicked ball in for Allysha Chapman to head in, before scoring a goal of her own off of a Huitema header.
The Canadians are yet to face any real adversity in this tournament, other than their own inability to break down low blocks. The jump in competitiveness that will take place when they face the Americans in the final will surely bring plenty of adversity. But Priestman knows she can rely on a group of talented, hungry players off the bench.
New-look Americans under pressure to perform
The Americans, on the other hand, seem to be going through an identity crisis. While the Canadians only had one big change going into the tournament – swapping Stephanie Labbe for Kailen Sheridan in the net – the USA have been playing without their two starting midfielders, Julie Ertz and Sam Mewis, as well as defender Crystal Dunn. The back-to-back World Cup champions have struggled to adapt to coach Vlatko Andonovski’s new tactics and have received much more criticism for failing to trample every opponent in their wake.
The 45-year-old coach, who took over the team after they made a mockery of the 2019 World Cup, has not been overly impressed with his team’s performances thus far in the tournament.
He went so far as to say they “weren’t ready” for the World Cup after their 1-0 win over Mexico – but that they will be in a year’s time.
CanWNT USWNT meet in the finals
📸 #CANWNT 👌
— CAN Soccer’s WNT (@CANWNT) July 16, 2022
Monday’s contest will not only be a matchup between two of the biggest rivals in the sport, but it will also decide each team’s route to the 2024 Paris Olympics. The winner will automatically qualify for the Olympics and the inaugural CONCACAF W Gold Cup, also scheduled for 2024. The runner-up and third-place teams will enter a play-in series, with the winner qualifying for the Olympics and Gold Cup. The CanWNT and USWNT should also be a good match for who is superior in Concacaf.
The game will be shown live in Canada on OneSoccer and live in the U.S. on Paramount+. It is also likely to be televised nationally on CBC in Canada. However, it is unclear if the CBC broadcast will be televised live or on tape delay.
Photo Credit: CAN Soccer’s WNT on July 16, 2022.