Bev Priestman called for bravery. Canada showed that and more in frustrating the USWNT

Bev Priestman called for bravery. Canada showed that and more in frustrating the USWNT

Canada returned to the pitch for the first time in a year on Thursday, taking the world No. 1 United States women’s national team toe to toe for 79 minutes. Bev Priestman called for bravery, confidence, and a sheer determination to defend in her first match as head coach. In the end, she got that — a gritty, organized, defensive effort which frustrated the Americans — and while the game was much closer than most would have expected given Canada’s many absences, the result was the same: a 1-0 victory for the United States.

The Americans now hold a commanding 51-3-7 record over Canada and are unbeaten against their rivals over the past 20 years. Despite the loss, Canada came away with significant positive developments.

Priestman rolled out a new look for Canada — both in personnel and setup. She ditched the more defensive 5-3-2 formation which Canada used against the U.S. in Olympic qualifying in January 2020 in favor of a 4-3-3 which clogged the middle of the park and nullified a talented U.S. midfield.

Canada’s backline played as a cohesive unit, with veteran Shelina Zadorsky pairing seamlessly with Vanessa Gilles, who had only featured for Canada twice prior to Thursday. Combined with their fullbacks, they kept a lethal U.S. attack from getting too many clear looks on goal. In the absence of Kadeisha Buchanan — who was withheld from release by her club, Lyon, as they chase a 15th straight French league title — Gilles was terrific, leading all players with 20 clearances. The positioning and quick reaction from the 24-year-old stymied the U.S. attack.

“I thought they were outstanding,” Priestman said of her center backs.

Pushed by Canada, USWNT finds a way to win ugly

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