Explaining why Olympic soccer champion Canada was shut out in Mexico – Sporting News

Canada’s women’s national team used the formula of airtight defending and timely goals in its historic run to 2021 Olympic gold. But if it’s going to take a next step ahead of the 2023 FIFA World Cup, it’s clear that’s going to have to come in the attacking end of the field.
The Canadian women were shut out by a committed Mexican side which managed to come away with another result, 0-0, against the gold medalists, just three days after pulling off a shock 2-1 victory over Canada.
Facing the No. 28 team in the world in its two-game friendly set in Mexico, No. 6 Canada was hoping for a much better finish to the calendar year. That much was evident in the words of coach Bev Priestman, who bemoaned the finishing struggles in attack.
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“I’m frustrated. I think we’ve got to have that arrogance to put the ball in the back of the net,” Priestman said on a postgame media conference call.
“With the year we’ve had, I’m frustrated to leave at the end of the year feeling like this. I’ve said to the players: ‘We have to keep this hunger and desire in our stomach now ready to enter into 2022, and really take that next step forward as a group.’
“We have to finish them chances. We can’t hide from that.”

Goalscoring was a concern heading into the Olympics, but the successful Olympic run and post-Olympic celebration matches erased those memories. That is, until Mexico.
Canada had enough clear looks at goal in the 0-0 draw that it should have found a way to break through. Three different forwards had chances that they will definitely want back.
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Deanne Rose had the best opportunity in the 19th minute when she did the hard part by rounding the ‘keeper, but with a wide-open goal in front of her, she managed to put the ball wide. Second-half subs Jordyn Huitema, who scored on Saturday, and Cloe Lacasse also had attempts at goal, with Lacasse’s coming one-on-one against the Mexican ‘keeper.
Lacasse was one of a group of new players who were invited to the November camp to make her case for future camps in 2022. Priestman noted that the chance to assess Lacasse and others will prove one of the useful aspects of the winless trip to Mexico.
Priestman has to keep looking for reinforcements, because as things stand the team is dependent on its elite names who weren’t available for the games against Mexico.
Janine Beckie was a match-winning performer at the Olympics, Adriana Leon has contributed key goals, and Ashley Lawrence is arguably the most influential figure on the team. They weren’t in Mexico City to help Les Rouges, and Priestman noted just how costly their absence was.
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“I felt we missed the quality of some players. We’ve got some top players in Europe missing,” she said in her postgame comments.
“We asked some big things of some new players who are still learning our system, style of play, and they had to step up. Credit to them, they put everything they had into the game, but moving forward we have to finish them chances. We could’ve put the game to bed in the first half and then again in the second half.”

(Getty Images)

The absence of the quality of Beckie and Lawrence was glaring in the first half against Mexico. Canada regularly got into the opposition half by creating turnovers and making runs out wide — especially through Rose down the right side in the first hour. But once the Canadians reached the Mexican box, the ideas weren’t always clear, crosses were off, or teammates weren’t available to combine.
Canada often relies on midfielder Jessie Fleming for that final pass, but she wasn’t her sharpest, and veteran captain Christine Sinclair wasn’t a factor in the game outside of a blocked shot in the first half. Julia Grosso brought more quality to midfield when she entered the match.
Canada starting lineup vs. Mexico (4-2-2-2, left to right): Kailen Sheridan-GK — Allysha Chapman, Vanessa Gilles, Kadeisha Buchanan, Sura Yekka — Quinn, Desiree Scott — Christine Sinclair, Jessie Fleming — Nichelle Prince, Deanne Rose
Canada subs: Marie Levasseur (54′ Yekka), Victoria Pickett (54′ Fleming), Julia Grosso (54′ Quinn), Cloe LaCasse (62′ Rose), Jordyn Huitema (62′ Prince), Jenna Hellstrom (81′ Sinclair)
The Kadeisha Buchanan-Vanessa Gilles pairing in central defense was rock solid all game, and Mexico couldn’t mount many threats of its own. When El Tri reached the Canadian area, especially toward the end of the match, Gilles and Buchanan were always there to block the path to goal.
The lone big chance for El Tri in the 77th minute was gifted by Canada goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, who misdirected a pass right to a Mexican forward. But Sheridan made up for the error by blocking the ensuing point-blank shot.
After a memorable 2021, Canada’s sights are now set on the 2023 FIFA World Cup and the regional qualifying path scheduled for July.
Priestman will hit the ground running with her team in 2022, participating in a four-nation exhibition tournament that will be held in England this coming February: Canada will face No. 8 England (Feb. 17), No. 3 Germany (Feb. 20) and No. 10 Spain (Feb. 23).

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