Canada will advance to the Olympic Games ranked second in their region after an 0:3 loss to USA in the Sunday final of the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship. Canada finished the confederation championship with four wins and one loss as Stephanie Labbé won the Golden Glove and Jordyn Huitema won the Golden Boot.
Canada scored 23 times across four different match through nine different scorers. In the final, they were unable to break the US defence despite holding 52% possession and completing 90% of their passes. Lynn Williams, Lindsey Horan and Megan Rapinoe were the American goalscorers in the 9 February final.
In winning silver, Canada have won 13 medals in 14 Concacaf women’s senior competitions since 1991, including silver at each of the last four Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championships in which they have also qualified for the Olympic Games. Canada are one of only five nations in the world to qualify for each of past four Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments and the only nation to reach the podium at both London 2012 and Rio 2016.
“We definitely pushed for 60 minutes and we can be proud of that performance, but we will need to take care of those small errors we made,” said Kenneth Heiner-Møller, Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team Head Coach. “When we play anyone in the world, we know we have a chance to win because that is how good our team is, but we also know that those small things can have a big impact. We need to be ready to take care of those small things and continue the path we are on towards the Olympic Games.”
Huitema is the first Canadian since Christine Sinclair in 2012 to win the tournament’s top scoring prize while Labbé is the first Canadian since Erin McLeod in 2006 to win the top goalkeeper award at a Concacaf women’s tournament.
“We were happy with our first 60 minutes, but it is now about those last 30 minutes and staying with them until the final whistle,” said Huitema, the tournament’s Golden Boot winner. “We didn’t get to do that in that game, so we are disappointed, but we are ready to come back stronger and if we play them in the Olympic Games get a different result.”
Canada nearly broke through in the 20th minute on a ball sent forward by Ashley Lawrence, but they were just caught with the offside call on the Christine Sinclair run into the box. As Canada continued to push forward, they created a pair of chances just a few minutes later, but both a Beckie chance was cleared and a Fleming lob was high over the crossbar.
USA had their best chance of the first half on a rocket from beyond the penalty area, but the Christine Press right-footed shot hit the crossbar and stayed out.
Then came Canada’s best chance in the 38th minute after Beckie put Sinclair through with a long, cutting pass. Sinclair was into the box, but her shot was stopped by the charging Alyssa Naeher.
In the second half, the USA created a couple of big moments, but the Canadian defence denied them both times. In the 56th minute, a corner kick was nearly headed in at the back post, but captain Sinclair was there to help with the clearance.
In the 60th minute, USA picked out the go-ahead goal after Williams intercepted the ball inside the Canada box and fired it past the outstretched Stephanie Labbé.
USA then doubled their lead in the 71st minute after Ertz played a ball wide to Samantha Mewis on the left wing. The Mewis cross into the box was headed down by Williams to Horan who then beat her defender and beat Labbé with a low shot.
In the 77th minute, Canada came through as Fleming helped Beckie get into a dangerous position inside the box, but the Beckie cross was just out of reach for her teammate at the back post.
USA then scored their third in the 87th minute after Williams played in Rapinoe who then scored with a low shot from inside the box.
Canada’s starting XI featured Stephanie Labbé in goal, Jayde Riviere and Ashley Lawrence as fullbacks, Sophie Schmidt, Kadeisha Buchanan and Shelina Zadorsky as centre backs, and Desiree Scott, Rebecca Quinn, Jessie Fleming, Christine Sinclair and Janine Beckie from the midfield up through to the attack. In the second half, coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller replaced Riviere with Allysha Chapman (65’), Quinn with Deanne Rose (65’), and Schmidt with Jordyn Huitema (73’).
Along with Huitema (seven goals), other Canadian goalscorers in the tournament were Janine Beckie (three), Jessie Fleming (one), Ashley Lawrence (two), Adriana Leon (four), Jayde Riviere (one), Deanne Rose (one), Christine Sinclair (three), and Shelina Zadorsky (one). In the opening match of the tournament, Sinclair became the world’s all-time international goalscoring record holder with her 185th goal.
Looking ahead to the Tokyo 2020 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, Canada will have three more opportunities to get together on the FIFA women’s international calendar (March, April and June). Already announced, Canada will face France, Netherlands and Brazil at the Tournoi de France during the March window (the latter two nations have already qualified for the Olympic Games) and then Australia during the April window (currently taking part in Asian qualifiers).