Analysis: CanWNT fall to USWNT in Concacaf W Championship Final


Like last time they faced each other, a late penalty was the difference as the USWNT defeated the CanWNT in the Concacaf W Championship Final yesterday.

Alex Morgan scored the game’s lone goal in the 78th minute after a controversial foul was called on fullback Alysha Chapman.

CanWNT vs. USWNT Analysis

It was a tough loss to swallow for the Canadians, especially considering the defensive effort they put forth. However, holding the back-to-back world champions to just one goal is nothing to scoff at. Here are three reasons for CanWNT fans to look at the glass as half full:

The emergence of Julia Grosso

This tournament will likely gown in history as the moment that made Julia Grosso a star. Yes, she scored the gold-medal-winning penalty in Tokyo. Yes, she was signed by one of the best clubs in the world, Juventus. But Mexico is where she became Bev Priestman’s secret weapon off the bench and where teams started marking her name down as someone to watch.

In the opening match against Trinidad and Tobago, Grosso came on in the 60th minute. Christine Sinclair had opened the scoring, but Canada were struggling to break down the low-block. By the 86th minute, she had scored her first goal for CanWNT, added another, and set up Janine Beckie for the fifth goal of the game.

It was a similar story against Panama. This time, she started the game, but again the Canadians faced the low block. It was Grosso that scored the game’s lone goal in the 64th minute, receiving the ball in the box and rounding the defender, and finishing in one smooth motion.

The 21-year-old finished the tournament with three goals and an assist, winning the golden boot award. In one start and three substitute appearances, she had a goal involvement every 43 minutes.

CanWNT moving on from Christine Sinclair

When Canada drew the Korea Republic at the end of June, a debate brewed online about whether or not the Canadians were too reliant on Christine Sinclair. The 39-year-old sat on the bench for the entire 90 minutes as her team failed to capitalize on a dozen chances and the game ended 0-0.

That debate seemingly came to an end this tournament. Bev Priestman got goals from seven different players not named Christine Sinclair – who played a little over half of a potential 450 minutes.

While she played an important role for the Canadians, Sinclair finished the tournament with just one goal.

Midfielder Jessie Fleming matched Julia Grosso’s three goals, but six of Canada’s goal scorers had just one tally. Perhaps does not need to replace Sinclair, but instead, score by committee.

New backline, same rock-solid defense

Bev Priestman’s named the same XI against the USA that she did in the Olympic Final, with two exceptions: Kailen Sheridan replaced Stephanie Labbé in net, and Jayde Riviere replaced Allysha Chapman at fullback.

The defense remained held down by the duo of Vanessa Gilles and Kadeisha Buchanan but still offered the same attacking threat down the wings. Lawrence finished the tournament with an assist, while Chapman scored a header against Jamaica after running the length of the field.

But it was Kailen Sheridan who made the biggest impression as a newcomer. After keeping three clean sheets in three starts heading into the final, she was Canada’s best player.

On multiple occasions, she kept the team in the game with the US on the front foot. Arguably her best save was just before half:

Replacing gold-medal-winning Stephanie Labbé is a hefty task, but it’s safe to say Kailen Sheridan dazzled in her first tournament as a starter

With the USWNT automatically qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics, the CanWNT will have to beat third-placed Jamaica.