USA, Canada Play to 1-1 Draw in Women’s Soccer Friendly; Alex Morgan Scores Goal

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VANCOUVER, BC - NOVEMBER 09: Jessie Fleming #17 of Canada tries to check Alex Morgan #13 of the United States during International Friendly soccer match action at BC Place on November 9, 2017 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

The United States women’s national team played Canada to a 1-1 draw at BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Thursday night.

Alex Morgan got the United States on the board first in the first half, and Adriana Leon equalized for Canada 12 minutes after halftime.

Canada remains winless against the U.S. since it beat the USWNT at the 2001 Algarve Cup. 

The United States led after what was an evenly matched first half. The visitors may have enjoyed 57 percent possession, but Canada was dangerous on the counterattack. Each team had three shots on target, while the hosts had a slight edge in total shots with nine to the United States’ five.

Megan Rapinoe nearly broke the deadlock in the 11th minute. Her shot from the left side of the 18-yard box beat Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe and looked like it would nestle just inside the far post. However, the ball hit the post and didn’t cross the goal line, which allowed Canada to breath a sigh of relief.

Twenty minutes later, Morgan left no doubt as she got on the end of a header from Casey Short and fired a right-footed shot to the far post. U.S. Soccer shared a replay of the goal:

No slowing her roll 🙅‍♀️! @alexmorgan13 doing @alexmorgan13 things. https://t.co/nq4w15DJ26

The New York Times‘ Caitlin Murray thought the Canadian defense was culpable for the goal as much as Morgan was responsible for scoring it:

Morgan scores, but it figures she just pounces after Canada repeatedly fails to clear the ball out of the area. Canada needed to do better. #CANvUSA

Canada equalized through Leon in the 57th minute.

The United States couldn’t properly clear a corner kick. Rebecca Quinn’s header from close range was blocked, and she had a right-footed effort carom off the crossbar. Without looking, Christine Sinclair delivered a perfect pass to an unmarked Leon, who had an easy finish to make it 1-1. 

Nafeesa Karim of CTV Vancouver shared the reaction to the goal inside BC Place:

FINALLY a goal for Canada… Adriana Leon makes it 1-1 #CANvUSA #WNTRivalry #CanadaRED #CANWNT 🇨🇦⚽️ https://t.co/ftc1ejG0T1

Canada was arguably the stronger side in the second half.

Its high defensive line gave the USWNT major problems as the visitors struggled to advance the ball much past midfield before ceding possession.

The high line also allowed Canada to break much easier on the counter, and the host country nearly took the lead in the 84th minute. 

Maegan Kelly, who was making her debut for Canada, forced Alyssa Naeher to make a point-blank save on an attempted chip shot. Naeher’s save didn’t erase the danger for the United States, though, as the ball continued bouncing in the path of the goal. It bounced off the same post that denied Rapinoe to keep the score level.

All things considered, Canada was somewhat unlucky not to walk away with the win. SB Nation’s Kevin McCauley offered a critical assessment of the United States:

College soccer players Jessie Fleming and Rebecca Quinn were both better than any professional American who played tonight.

O’Hara and Sauerbrunn were both very good and saved their teammates a lot of embarrassment tonight. Would have been 4-1 without them.

The U.S. has overshadowed the CONCACAF region for years, but this could be Canada’s opportunity to emerge as the best team in North America. The USWNT still sits first in the FIFA ranking, but the team is undergoing major changes as it begins moving on from the generation of stars who delivered a World Cup win in 2015 and Olympic gold in 2012.

The sides will meet for another friendly Sunday night at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California.

Both Canada and the United States will have an eye toward the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, which will determine who qualifies for the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

One result—especially a draw—doesn’t mean there’s a CONCACAF power shift, and Canada’s performance in World Cup qualifying and the World Cup itself will go much further in showing whether it can surpass the United States.

Still, Thursday’s performance from Canada makes Sunday’s friendly a little more interesting. 

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