Tag Archives: SheBelieves

Canada women’s soccer headed in right direction despite frustrating SheBelieves Cup

In their first action in nearly a year, it was a mixed bag for the Canadian women’s soccer team at the SheBelieves Cup.

With a new coach and a plethora of injuries and roster challenges, what should we make of their one-win, two-loss performance?

Did the tournament help answer any roster questions ahead of the Tokyo Olympics five months from now? What are the main areas that need to be worked on? We address those questions and more.

Was the tournament a success for Canada?

Yes and no.

It was a bit of a mystery what to expect from Canada going into the SheBelieves Cup given it had been 11 months since they last were together.

They have a new coach in Bev Priestman along with major roster challenges prior to the tournament, like injuries and club commitments.

WATCH | CBC Sports assesses Canada’s performance at the SheBelieves Cup:

Signa Butler is joined by John Molinaro and Harjeet Johal, to assess Team Canada’s performance in their debut at the SheBelieves Cup and which players made the most of their opportunity, for the notably short-handed Canadian side. 7:20

Given those hurdles, the team played fairly well. With half the players on in-season form and the rest just getting started, they put up a stout performance against the world champion United States, keeping a clean sheet until Rose Lavelle’s goal in the 79th minute.

Priestman also had the opportunity to build the program’s depth, giving four players (Evelyne Viens, Jordyn Listro, Jade Rose and Samantha Chang) their first cap.

Can we already give Bev Priestman a fair assessment?

No, but the team seems to be heading in the right direction.

No coach, especially one thrust into the position just four months before, should be judged based on a team missing six to seven starters, including three of its top players — Christine Sinclair, Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence.

The team defended very well outside of the miscues versus Brazil where it conceded two goals. Centre back Shelina Zadorsky’s leadership and quality was on display as the only defender consistently in the starting 11.

Canada also played quite well out of the back and stayed patient, which was something Priestman had hoped the team would accomplish. There was rarely a panicked clearance or ill-advised pass up the pitch.

From all player accounts, they’ve been impressed with Priestman’s preparation and communication. According to Desiree Scott, who wore the captain’s armband in Sinclair’s absence, there was a “good vibe” at camp.

Priestman’s next appearance on the sidelines with Canada will be in an April 13 friendly against her native England, with whom she served as an assistant for over two years.

What areas must Canada address ahead of Tokyo?

Canada’s goal for Tokyo is well-stated. After back-to-back bronze, it’s about changing the colour of the medal.

However, to do that Canada will need to beat top tier opposition and score goals. Two things the Canadians have been lacking the last couple years.

In its last 10 matches against top 10 nations, Canada has zero wins, eight losses and two draws. Not exactly confidence-boosting results. The last win against a top nation came against England in April 2019.

Goal scoring has been even more of a concern.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Signa Butler explains the SheBelieves Cup:

Signa Butler breaks down the basics of the SheBelieves Cup, and what participating in the tournament means for Team Canada 2:41

Canada scored just one goal in three games at the SheBelieves Cup and if you look at those last 10 games against top 10 nations, Canada was outscored 20-3. Remember, these are the majority of teams you have to beat en route to the medal round in Tokyo.

But Priestman looks to the opening game against the No. 1 Americans as a reference point in this tournament of what Canada is capable of, even without key players.

“I think the group is more determined than ever. They’ve told me they want to change the colour of the medal and to do that we need to get fitter, we need to keep pushing forward, we need to be more clinical,” she said post-tournament.

Other than Sinclair, Janine Beckie is Canada’s top goal scorer among active players with 31 and she was among those irked by missed chances at the SheBelieves.

“It’s frustrating to look at this tournament and see that we only put one chance away. As a forward, I take that on my back, along with the others who play in the front line,” Beckie said after Canada’s final game.

Biggest battles going into Tokyo squad selection?

Goalkeeping appears set in stone with Kailen Sheridan and Stephanie Labbe. Sheridan suffered an injury early in the opening match against the U.S., so that will need to be monitored. It’s a position of depth with McLeod, Sabrina D’Angelo and uncapped Rylee Foster, a former youth international who made the roster for SheBelieves.

To make the 18-player roster, having the versatility to play multiple positions is definitely an asset.

The fullback situation is intact from Rio with returnees Allysha Chapman, Buchanan, Zadorsky and Lawrence. Two leading candidates to join them are Gabrielle Carle and Jayde Riviere, who suffered an injury in the Brazil game. Both can play wingback and move forward in attack.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Signa Butler chats with Canadian soccer player Deanne Rose:

Deanne Rose speaks with Signa Butler about going in the first round of the NWSL draft, dealing with the pandemic, and the SheBelieves cup. 3:07

Playing her way onto the radar in a big way was Bordeaux centre back Vanessa Gilles. What she may lack in pace, she makes up for in positioning and hard-nosed defending.

The biggest battle will be in the midfield and it’s a position Canada needs to solidify especially if they expect to compete against those top nations.

The five returning midfielders are Scott, Sophie Schmidt, Diana Matheson, Quinn, and Jessie Fleming. Julia Grosso, who did not play at the SheBelieves, Canada’s lone goalscorer Sarah Stratigakis and Listro wait in the wings.

To inject some youth into the midfield lineup, Priestman may have to make tough choices or make room through carrying less forwards or defenders. The 2023 World Cup isn’t far off, so having some younger players at the Olympics will be crucial for carrying on the team’s legacy once the veteran core retires.

As for the strikers, four of the five from Rio are still playing and appear to be locks — Sinclair, Beckie, Nichelle Prince and Deanne Rose. Again, if Priestman carries five strikers there is just one position up for grabs and several candidates to take it — Huitema, Adriana Leon and Évelyne Viens.

The 19-year-old Huitema (13 goals in 33 appearances) and 28-year-old Leon (19 goals in 69 caps) have the upperhand on Viens, who made her first appearance for Canada at any level in the SheBelieves, coming in as a substitute in all three matches.

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CBC | Soccer News

Canada exits SheBelieves Cup on sour note with shutout loss to Brazil

Canada paid for some slack defending in the first half Wednesday, beaten 2-0 by Brazil in the SheBelieves Cup.

The Canadian women were second-best for much of the game at Exploria Stadium.

Debinha and Julia scored for Brazil, which punished Canadian mistakes in the tournament finale for both teams. After an uneven start, the Brazilians took control and showed their attacking flair against a Canadian backline that was pretty green other than centre back Shelina Zadorsky.

Brazil played deeper as the second half wore on, allowing the Canadians more room on attack in the final minutes. They could not convert, although Zadorsky came close in the 84th minute, kicking out a leg twice while on the ground to force consecutive goal-line stops from goalkeeper Barbara and defender Bruna off a Janine Beckie set piece.

WATCH | Canada blanked by Brazil:

Debinha scored the game-winner in the 15th minute, as Brazil went on to shut out Canada 2-0 at the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando, Fla. 1:32

The two teams came into Wednesday’s game tied for eighth in the world rankings, with 8-8-7 records against each other. They drew 2-2 last March when they last met, at a tournament in France in Canada’s last outing prior to the SheBelieves Cup.

Canada opened the Florida tournament with a 1-0 loss to the top-ranked United States before defeating No. 31 Argentina 1-0. Brazil beat Argentina 4-1 and lost 2-0 to the U.S.

The defending champion Americans (2-0-0) faced Argentina (0-2-0) in the late game Wednesday.

The Canadian women’s next game is an April 13 away friendly against No. 6 England.

Coach Bev Priestman made four changes to her starting lineup, with Desiree Scott, Deanne Rose, Sarah Stratigakis and Jayde Riviere coming in against Brazil. Scott captained the team in place of Sophie Schmidt.

WATCH | Canada earns lone win against Argentina:

Canada picked up its first win at the SheBelieves Cup and the 1st victory under Bev Priestman. 1:15

The starting 11 came into the match with a combined 604 caps, with Scott accounting for 157 of those. Schmidt came on during second-half stoppage time for her 202nd cap.

Canada showed more purpose in the early going, stroking the ball around and stretching the Brazilians. But Brazil went ahead in the 14th minute after a giveaway by 18-year-old centre back Jade Rose, earning her second cap.

Adriana outmuscled Jessie Fleming for the ball and, after a nice interplay with Debinha, charged into the Canadian penalty box and slid a diagonal shot through goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe’s legs from close range. The ball hit the far post and bounced back towards the shooter, with Debinha poking it into goal before Labbe and Zadorsky could corral it.

Another goalie hurt

It looked like more bad news for Canada in the 27th minute when Labbe went down, clutching her calf after planting her leg expecting a shot. Labbe stayed on, however, while the uncapped Rylee Foster — the only other goalkeeper left in the Canadian camp after injuries to Erin McLeod and Kailen Sheridan — warmed up on the sideline.

The goal spurred Brazil on and Canada paid for some more sloppy defence late in the half. Julia hammered home a shot in the 39th minute after a penalty box scramble that saw Rose, Riviere and Gabrielle Carle all unable to clear the ball.

Nichelle Prince had a chance to pull one back soon after a clearance by Barbara went straight to a Canadian. But Prince’s long-range effort did not make it on target.

Adriana’s shot from distance hit the crossbar in the 45th minute, thanks to a touch from an outstretched Labbe.

Brazil outshot Canada 8-1 (3-0 in shots on target) in the first half and had 58 per cent possession.

Canada brought on Evelyne Viens and Jordyn Listro to start the second half. Brazil, meanwhile, gave both Debinha and Marta the second half off.

Riviere limped off in the 56th minute, favouring her knee, giving way to Lindsay Agnew at right back. Canada came close in the 72st minute but sliding substitute Adriana Leon could not get a foot to a low cross from Beckie, perhaps Canada’s best player on the day.

Canada went into the tournament missing injured captain Christine Sinclair and midfielder Diana Matheson. McLeod, Sheridan and defender Bianca St-Georges subsequently were hurt and dropped out.

Defenders Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence and forward Jordyn Huitema were not released by their French clubs because of pandemic-related quarantine issues. Defender Vanessa Gilles returned to her French club after the loss to the U.S. as part of a pre-tournament agreement.

With players missing, Priestman used the tournament to give Listro, Viens, Jade Rose and Samantha Chang their first caps with the senior side.

The only four Canadians to start all three games at the tournament were Zadorsky, Fleming, Beckie and Prince.

Allysha Chapman and Quinn, who goes by one name, were unavailable Wednesday due to injury.

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CBC | Soccer News

Patience, relentless pressure keys to Canada’s SheBelieves Cup battle with Brazil

Heading into its final game of the SheBelieves Cup, the Canadian women’s soccer team is focusing on being both patient and relentless.

It’s two characteristics may seem in contradiction of one another, but Canada will need equal parts of both to contend against Brazil Wednesday night (4 p.m. ET). 

At this point of the four-team tournament in Orlando, Fla, it’s been a mixed bag for coach Bev Preistman’s side. First, a hard-fought 1-0 loss to arch rivals from the United States in which the Canadians didn’t allow a goal until the 79th minute. Then a 1-0 stoppage-time victory over Argentina, though the match was frustrating with a staggered tempo. 

“We need to improve on our patience, building up out of the back … making sure we find our players, but then once we get forward in the attacking third, being more dangerous,” said midfielder Sophie Schmidt, who recently picked up her 201st cap for Canada. 

“I think that we’re a bit sloppy with our passes, we need to find people’s feet and then put shots on goal and score some more goals. 

“It’s an easy recipe but harder to execute.” 

Now on Wednesday, it’s a familiar opponent in Brazil, the team Canada beat 2-1 for the bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

The last time these two squads met was 11 months ago, and this time the Canadian team will look a whole lot different. 

There is no Christine Sinclair or Diana Matheson (both missing the SheBelieves with injuries), nor Kadeisha Buchanan, Ashley Lawrence and Jordyn Huitema (who weren’t released from their clubs). 

WATCH | Canada drops opener to U.S.:

The United States defeats Canada 1-0 with Rose Lavelle’s goal in the 79th minute. 1:04

Roster challenges

The roster challenges haven’t stopped there. Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan picked up an injury in the early minutes of the U.S. game. Quinn, who was very strong in midfield against the Americans, sustained an injury in training and will be re-evaluated ahead of the Brazil match. And one of the standout players for Canada in the opening game, centre back Vanessa Gilles, was sent back to her FC Girondins de Bordeaux, as part of a pre-tournament agreement. 

Those aforementioned roster challenges, as well as the back-to-back-to-back match format of the tournament, has forced Priestman’s hand to play newer and younger players, which is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, one of them, second-half substitute Sarah Stratigakis, scored the winning goal on Sunday against Argentina. 

Another positive saw four players — Evelyn Viens, Jordyn Listro, Jade Rose and Samantha Chang — all earning their first caps in the tournament. Only goalkeeper Rylee Foster has yet to earn her first appearance at the senior level. 

But for all the affirmations, creating quality chances and scoring goals is still a sore spot. 

In Canada’s last five games dating back to last March’s Tournoi de France, Canada has scored just three times. Two of them came in a 2-2 draw against Brazil on March 10, 2020. The other was the one against Argentina over the weekend. 

Priestman said while she would obviously like to see more balls in the back of the net, it’s more about trusting the process. The team is only back together after nearly a year, there are a plethora of new faces and partnerships are just starting to mesh. 

“It’s going to come and it does take time,” she said after the Argentina game. “[As a] group we’ve been doing extra work at the end of training for forwards to get more reps in and things like that. We’re doing everything we can. The group is aware of it.” 

WATCH | Canadian women rebound against Argentina:

Canada picked up its first win at the SheBelieves Cup and the 1st victory under Bev Priestman. 1:15

Killer instinct lacking without Sinclair

Without Sinclair and her 186 international goals, the question has been who will find that killer instinct in front of goal.   

What few quality chances Canada has created at the SheBelieves Cup, the final pass or final finish hasn’t been there. Janine Beckie, who has 31 goals for Canada, had two golden opportunities in the six-yard box against the U.S., Jessie Fleming had two quality scoring chances against Argentina and Nichelle Prince has been lively in both games but hasn’t scored.

However, like Priestman said, it feels like only a matter of time before everything clicks and they’ve been putting the emphasis on moving the ball quicker, taking less touches and finding that forward pass.  

“The group needs to keep believing and keep pushing, whatever it takes to win,” she said. “I think going into this Brazil game I’d like for them to see a mindset where we really take it to Brazil. I felt we did that early against the U.S.” 

Brazil more defensive

Like Canada, Brazil has a new coach on board, though a very experienced one at that. Pia Sundhage took the reins of the team in July 2019 after a disappointing exit in the Round of 16 at the World Cup. The former U.S. and Sweden coach has brought more defensive organization to the club, who’ve been known to have blistering offensive attacks with the likes of Marta and Debinha but are lacking in the defensive third. 

“Their shape is harder to break down,” said Priestman. “They’re dangerous on the counter attack so again we have to put an emphasis on competing and being hard to beat. I think they have some threats for sure. They’re a tough team to play against.” 

Added Schmidt: “We’ve faced them so many times, we know each other very well and I think it’s going to be a good match and a test of where we stand as a team in this year.

“They’re a great side, very tactically smart, amazing with their feet and I think it’s going to be a battle once again. 

“Looking forward to it.”

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CBC | Sports News

Canadian forward Evelyne Viens enjoying 1st taste of international soccer at SheBelieves Cup

It has been an eventful 13 months for Canadian forward Evelyne Viens since being taken fifth overall by Sky Blue FC in the 2020 NWSL draft.

The 24-year-old from L’Ancienne-Lorette, Que., made her pro debut in last summer’s NWSL Challenge Cup. opening her scoring account against the Chicago Red Stars, before travelling to France to join Paris FC on loan to get some more playing time.

And Viens, finally called up by the Canadian women’s team, has won her first two caps coming off the bench at the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando.

Canada (1-1-0) wraps up play at the four-country tournament on Wednesday against Brazil (1-1-0) in what should be a battle to see who finishes second behind the top-ranked Americans.

“I think we’re going to be ready for Brazil and score some goals,” said Viens.

Canada and Brazil, who are ted for eighth in the FIFA world rankings, have played each other 23 times. Each has eight wins with seven draws.

The teams tied 2-2 in their most recent meeting last March at a tournament in France.

‘Pretty amazing feeling’

Viens earned her first cap off the bench in Canada’s 1-0 loss to the U.S. last Thursday.

“It was a pretty amazing feeling when I got in,” she told reporters Monday.

“For me just being able to step on the field and getting my first minutes against the best team in the world was a such a learning experience,” she added.

While her family was unable to attend the game at Exploria Stadium, Viens had support in the stands in the form of friends from the University of South Florida where she had been a goal machine.

Viens scored 73 goals in 77 career games for the USF Bulls, setting school and American Athletic Conference all-time records. Her 25 goals as a senior also set school and conference single-season marks.

She left a trail of defenders in her wake at South Florida and showed she can beat goalkeepers with both her feet.

WATCH | Canada picks up 1st win at SheBelieves Cup:

Canada picked up its first win at the SheBelieves Cup and the 1st victory under Bev Priestman. 1:15

Her career 169 points and 360 shots were also school and conference records. She also set conference records for points per game (2.19), goals per game (0.95) and shots per game (4.68).

A three-time All-American and 2019 Scholar All-American, she was named AAC Offensive Player of the Week a conference-record six times in 2019.

But a call-up to the Canadian camp took its time. Part of the reason is the fact that Viens, while growing up, was not part of Quebec’s provincial team because it would have meant leaving her family to go to Montreal.

‘She finds the back of the net’

New Canada coach Bev Priestman has liked what she’s seen.

“What I see in Evelyne — and what you all have seen — is she finds the back of the net really well,” said Priestman. “That stood out to me more than anything. She’s a No. 9 that likes to run off the back of defenders.”

Viens, who also saw action in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Argentina, is one of four players to earn their first cap under Priestman. Jade Rose, Jordyn Listro and Samantha Chang have also seen action at the tournament.

The only uncapped player remaining in camp is goalkeeper Rylee Foster.

WATCH | What to expect from short-handed team Canada at SheBelieves Cup:

Signa Butler is joined by John Molinaro and Harjeet Johal, to discuss the notable omissions from Canada’s roster and their expectations for the team against top tier competition in the 2021 SheBelieves Cup 6:59

For Priestman, the new faces bring their talent and “a desire and a hunger to do whatever they can to wear the shirt.”

Viens said she used the time ahead of her first call-up to improve her game, to make sure she was ready when the call came.

Viens is the second-highest Canadian ever taken in the NWSL draft. Quinn, a defender-midfielder who goes by one name, was taken third overall in 2018 by the Washington Spirit.

Viens’ first NWSL training camp lasted just five days because of the pandemic. She rode out the lockdown with other Sky Blue rookies before the team returned to training.

She will return to France after the tournament, finishing our her loan in Paris before returning to Sky Blue FC in a month or so. She says she has enjoyed Paris, despite the pandemic.

“I mean it’s living in Paris,” she said. “It’s not the worst place in the world to live.”

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CBC | Soccer News

Canada edges Argentina on last-gasp effort for 1st victory at SheBelieves Cup

Canada left it late but got the job done Sunday at the SheBelieves Cup.

Substitute Sarah Stratigakis scored in stoppage time to lift Canada to a 1-0 win over a stubborn Argentina side at the women’s soccer tournament.

The breakthrough goal came off a goalmouth scramble in the 92nd minute with a sliding Stratigakis poking the ball home off goalkeeper Laurina Oliveros’ arm. Janine Beckie’s free kick caused mayhem in front of the Argentina goal and, when the defence failed to clear, Jessie Fleming’s mishit went to Stratigakis.

Argentina had 10 players in its penalty box but could not put out the fire.

WATCH | Canada picks up 1st win at SheBelieves Cup:

Canada picked up its first win at the SheBelieves Cup and the 1st victory under Bev Priestman. 1:15

“I felt that it would come. It just happened to come later than what I wanted,” Bev Priestman said after her first win as Canada coach.

“They’re a tough team to break down,” she said of Argentina. “It wasn’t the perfect match and it definitely wasn’t the best match I’ve been involved with. But overall I think the group found a way to win That’s what good teams do.

“And it’s a clean sheet, which we have to celebrate as well.”

It was the first goal in three senior appearances for Stratigakis, a 21-year-old midfielder from the University of Michigan.

The late strike helped snap a five-game winless streak (0-3-2). Canada’s last victory was a 1-0 decision over Costa Rica on Feb. 7, 2020, at the CONCACAF Olympic Women’s Qualifying Tournament.

Sophie Schmidt, who captained the side in her 201st international appearance, said she “100 per cent” thought the goal was coming.

“We were attacking. We should have put some away in the first half but we didn’t. That’s the story of our lives right now,,” she said.

“But moving forward we’ve got to find a way earlier,” she added. “We have to finish our chances.”

Canada (1-1-0), tied with Brazil for eighth in the FIFA world rankings, had more of the play than No. 31 Argentina (0-2-0) but lacked clinical finishing in a first half short on chances and entertainment value.

WATCH | What to expect from short-handed team Canada at SheBelieves Cup:

Signa Butler is joined by John Molinaro and Harjeet Johal, to discuss the notable omissions from Canada’s roster and their expectations for the team against top tier competition in the 2021 SheBelieves Cup 6:59

It was more of the same in a choppy second half against the hard-working South Americans, who offered little on offence. The Canadians, playing only their second match since last March, pressed as the game wore on with Argentina dropping players behind the ball.

Canada squandered set pieces on offence and had little to do on defence. Argentina did its bit to slow the tempo, with players often hitting the turf.

Canada wraps up play Wednesday against Brazil while Argentina, who replaced Japan in the tournament when the 10th-ranked Japanese pulled out citing the pandemic, faces the U.S.

Canada, playing only its second match since last March, pressed as the game wore on with Argentina dropping players behind the ball. (Twitter/@CanadaSoccerEN)

While Canada is missing injured captain Christine Sinclair and her 186 goals at the tournament, its offence has been in short supply in recent outings. Sunday’s goal was just Canada’s third in its last six matches and two of them came in a 2-2 tie with Brazil last March.

“Listen it’s going to come and it does take time,” Priestman said of the Canadian attack. “The group, we’ve been doing extra work at the end of training for forwards to get more reps in and things like that,

“We’re doing everything we can. I think the group is aware of it.”

Priestman, who thought her team was rushing things early Sunday, had warned her players beforehand that he goal might not come until late.

“I had said to them before it might be the 89th minute. We just have to keep trusting the process and doing what we do. I think that will come.”

Priestman said Canada’s long layoff during the pandemic and new faces in camp have made things more complicated.

Priestman made six changes to her starting lineup with goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe, Gabrielle Carle, Adriana Leon, Jade Rose, Jordyn Listro and Schmidt coming in.

Schmidt also captained the team in her 100th match in 2013.

Rose, 18, and Listro, 25, earned their first senior caps. The Canadian starting 11 totalled 713 caps, up from 647 for the starters against the U.S.

Samantha Chang, 20, also earned her first cap, coming off the bench in the 61st minute. Deanne Rose had come on three minutes earlier to win her 50th cap.

Quinn, who goes by one name, was unavailable Sunday due to a minor injury in training. Canada Soccer said the hope was the midfielder will be available for the Brazil game.

Shaky start

Canada looked a little shaky to start, with several turnovers. But gradually the Canadians began to find put things together, firing crosses into the Argentine penalty box.

Argentina, meanwhile, looked for holes in the Canadian defence with long balls over the top.

Canada had 49 per cent possession in the first half, outshooting Argentina 7-2 (2-1 in shots on target).

Argentina survived a pair of goalmouth scrambles early in the second half. Leon shot high in the 55th minute as the Canadians continued to have difficulties finding their range.

Argentina’s Lorena Benitez was stretchered off in the 56th minute with an injury.

Canada has won all five meetings with Argentina, outscoring the South Americans 13-1.

Canada’s roster, already depleted before the tournament kickoff, lost two more players leading up to Sunday’s match. Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, injured in Thursday’s match, returned to her club Sky Blue FC for further medical assessment. Defender Vanessa Gilles, one of Canada’s top performers in the U.S. match, returned to her French cub as part of a pre-tournament agreement.

U.S. tops standings

Christen Press scored in the 11th minute, Megan Rapinoe added a late goal and the U.S. women beat Brazil 2-0 in the SheBelieves Cup on Sunday.

The U.S. sits atop the SheBelieves Cup standings with two wins.

WATCH | Lavelle scores late goal to secure U.S. win over Canada:

The United States defeats Canada 1-0 with Rose Lavelle’s goal in the 79th minute. 1:04

The Brazilians are led by Pia Sundhage, who coached the U.S. from 2008-12. Sundhage took Brazil over last summer and has an 8-2-3 record.

The U.S. beat Canada 1-0 in its SheBelieves Cup opener on Thursday.

Brazil beat rival Argentina 4-1 on Thursday. Brazil is making its second overall appearance in the tournament, now in its sixth year.

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CBC | Soccer News

Canadian keeper Kailen Sheridan ruled out of SheBelieves Cup with injury

Injury has ruled Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan out of the rest of the SheBelieves Cup.

The 25-year-old from Whitby, Ont., had to be helped off the field Thursday after suffering an apparent leg injury in Canada’s 1-0 loss to the United States.

It was a non-contact injury with Sheridan going down after passing the ball to a teammate. Sheridan, who was making her 10th appearance for Canada, was replaced by veteran Stephanie Labbe in the 11th minute.

A Canada Soccer spokeswoman declined to provide details on the injury, saying Sheridan was on her way back to Sky Blue FC, her NWSL club, where she will be further evaluated.

WATCH | Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan leaves game with injury

Early in the match against the United States, Canada’s goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan plays the ball then goes down in pain. She would have to be replaced by Stephanie Labbé. 1:19

With veteran Erin McLeod having to leave camp with an injury prior to the tournament’s start, Sheridan’s injury leaves Canada coach Bev Priestman with Labbe (73 caps) and the uncapped Rylee Foster in goal.

The Canadians, tied with Brazil for eighth in the FIFA world rankings, play No. 31 Argentina on Sunday and Brazil on Wednesday.

Vanessa Gilles also leaves camp

Canada Soccer said centre back Vanessa Gilles has also left camp, but not because of injury. The 24-year-old from Ottawa has returned to her club, FC Girondins de Bordeaux in France, as part of a pre-tournament agreement that allowed her to attend the Canadian camp and take part in the first game of the tournament.

Gilles, earning her third cap, impressed during the loss to the U.S.

WATCH | What to expect from Team Canada at SheBelieves Cup:

Signa Butler is joined by John Molinaro and Harjeet Johal, to discuss the notable omissions from Canada’s roster and their expectations for the team against top tier competition in the 2021 SheBelieves Cup 6:59

While the tournament falls in a FIFA international window, centre back Kadeisha Buchanan (Lyon), fullback Ashley Lawrence and forward Jordyn Huitema (both Paris Saint-Germain) were denied release by their French clubs.

France recently imposed a seven-day quarantine for travellers due to COVID-19. FIFA, trying to limit player absences, is allowing clubs to keep players if they face a quarantine longer than five days.

By leaving early, Gilles gets a jump on her quarantine upon return to France.

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CBC | Soccer News

No ‘moral victory’ in Canada’s women’s soccer loss to U.S at SheBelieves Cup

In the wake of Canada’s 1-0 loss to the U.S. in the SheBelieves Cup on Thursday night, an American commentator suggested the Canadian post-game locker-room would be all smiles. Canada, the commentator thought, would be pleased with the moral victory of a one-goal loss to the world’s No. 1-ranked team.

Defender Shelina Zadorsky scoffed at the notion Canada was just happy to be there.

“It’s funny, because when we came into camp, we had a meeting about our mindset and our goals and vision as a team. We obviously come with humility, that’s kind of in our Canadian DNA, but at the same time, it’s being a consistently winning team, and a consistently excellent team,” Zadorsky said.

“I think that’s where we can grow in the sense of letting the world know that we are a top nation, and that we are good enough to beat Tier 1 teams. So for us, we’re disappointed, because no matter how well we played, we lost the game.”

‘The winning mentality was there’

Despite missing several key players including star striker Christine Sinclair, the Canadians kept the U.S. off the scoresheet until the 79th minute. Canada’s first match in nearly a year, thanks to COVID-19, held plenty of promise just five months out from the Tokyo Olympics. The Canadians are two-time defending Olympic bronze medallists.

“We know that’s how fine the margins are against Tier 1 opposition,” said Zadorsky. “It’s obviously positive, we created those goal-scoring chances, but at the same time, we lost the game. And so, it’s looking at it realistically that, yes, the winning mentality was there. But we still have a little ways to go to be able to get it across the line against the best nations.”

Canada faces Argentina in the four-country tournament on Sunday at Exploria Stadium. The team reviewed the U.S. game on Friday then planned to begin previewing Argentina on Friday night.

The game also marked the debut of head coach Bev Priestman. The 34-year-old, who worked for Canada Soccer from 2013 to 2018, took over last November after Kenneth Heiner-Moller accepted a coaching job in his native Denmark.

WATCH | What to expect from Team Canada at SheBelieves Cup:

Signa Butler is joined by John Molinaro and Harjeet Johal, to discuss the notable omissions from Canada’s roster and their expectations for the team against top tier competition in the 2021 SheBelieves Cup 6:59

“I’m really enjoying working with Bev, she’s sophisticated, she’s easy to speak to, she’s a great communicator. And I think her focus has been really to shift our mindset . . . getting the mindset back to believing we’re going to beat the best in the world,” Zadorsky said.

Zadorsky arrived in Orlando from her Tottenham Hotspur team, and said the biggest adjustment was playing in the Florida heat.

The 28-year-old was impressed with Vanessa Gilles, who earned her third cap filling in on the back line for the absent Kadeisha Buchanan.

Zadorsky said the team calls Gilles “the magnet” because of the way she uses her strength and power to get to the ball and clear it.

“In a game against the U.S. you really need to take care of your individual defending and she did that absolutely brilliantly,” Zadorsky said. “In my mind, she was Man of the Match. It was awesome playing beside her, and I think it’s exciting knowing we have this calibre of centre backs for Canada.”

Argentina lost 4-1 to rival Brazil on Thursday. Canada faces Brazil on Wednesday.

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Americans need late goal to scrape past Canada at SheBelieves Cup

Substitute Rose Lavelle scored in the 79th minute to help the U.S. defeat Canada 1-0 Thursday on the opening day of the SheBelieves Cup.

It was a gritty performance by a Canadian side missing captain Christine Sinclair and other top players.

While the top-ranked Americans dominated play at Exploria Stadium, they failed to convert until late when Canada didn’t clear a ball in the box and Lavelle hammered a shot through traffic. The Canadians thought there had been an infraction on the play but to no avail.

The Canadian women, tied for eighth with Brazil in the FIFA world rankings, had their hands full with the Americans who spent much of the game in Canada’s end.

WATCH | Lavelle scores late goal to secure U.S. win over Canada:

The United States defeats Canada 1-0 with Rose Lavelle’s goal in the 79th minute. 1:04

The Americans kept coming but could not finish. Canada had a few chances of its own with a Shelina Zadorsky header going just wide in the dying seconds

The game marked the debut of 34-year-old Bev Priestman as Canada coach. The English native, who worked for Canada Soccer from 2013 to 2018, took over last November when Kenneth Heiner-Moller took a coach job in his native Denmark.

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