USWNT vs Canada preview: Rivalry thrives again

The USWNT wraps up their 2017 campaign with one last pair of friendlies against Canada. The rich and storied rivalry between the two continues with its first of the two games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The last time the USWNT were at BC Place, they became the 2015 Women’s World Cup champions with a 5-2 victory over Japan. They look to return to the venue and claim another victory.

US on top of rivalry

With these last two matches, Canada has officially become the most played opponent for the USWNT. These two teams have faced each other since 1986, meeting in the fifth and sixth matches for the US Women’s National Team in program history. However, this is only the third time these countries have played a back-to-back home-and-away schedule. The first time was in 1995 and the second followed in 2001. They also played each other five times in 2000 and 2008, which tied for most meetings in a year for the USWNT against any opponent.

The USWNT have dominated the long and storied series against Canada with an all-time record of 47-3-6. However, the past couple of meetings have featured close matches with the US either with small margins for wins or with a draw. The last time these teams met was in the championship match of the 2016 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship in Houston, Texas. The USWNT came away with the 2-0 victory with goals from Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan.

USWNT (left) celebrating Tobin Heath's goal against Canada. in 2016. | Source: Getty Images - Scott Halleran

Growing and still succeeding

2017 has proved to be the most difficult schedule for the USWNT in a non-World Cup or Olympic year, and they have been taking the opportunity to figure out new formations, add in plenty of new names, and try new people in new positions. Since the end of the 2016 Rio Olympics, head coach Jill Ellis has played 34 players in matches and has seen 50 players in training camps. Since Ellis took the reigns a few years ago, 20 players have earned their first cap with 13 of them earning their first appearance in the red, white, and blue this year.

One of the players who has tried a new position with the national team is Julie Ertz, who since her position change to defensive midfield now leads her team with five goals. Ertz is tied with Alex Morgan for the team led. All of the defensive midfielder's goals - 13 overall, five on the year - have come either directly or resulted from a set piece.

Two players have started every single match for the USWNT in 2017: midfielder Sam Mewis and defender and co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn. Mewis has logged 1,102 minutes on the year and is right behind Becky Sauerbrunn’s 1,170 minutes. The midfielder has scored 7 goals in 14 matches for the USWNT this year. Meanwhile Sauerbrunn had her sixth career assist to Christen Press against Norway on June 11.

The USWNT face Canada on Thursday, November 9 at BC Place. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm Pacific Time and will be aired on ESPN2.