USWNT vs Canada preview: Round two

The United States Women's National Soccer Team closes out 2017 against a determined Canadian side.

USWNT vs Canada preview: Round two
The USWNT and Canada get ready to face off again | Source: Brad Smith - ISI Photos/ US Soccer

The home-and-away series between the USWNT and Canada concludes on Sunday at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California (6 p.m. PT on FS1).

After a 1-1 draw on Thursday in Vancouver in front of a sellout crowd of 28,017 fans at BC Place, the USWNT will look to rebound after being outplayed by Canada the majority of the game. Canada, who nearly edged out their rival in front of their home crowd, will want to show that the days of the USWNT winning each of their meetings is over.

Rivalry Intensified

The USWNT-Canada rivalry has grown over the years in a derby-style type of feel each time the two countries meet. For years, the USWNT has always managed to get the best of their northern neighbor. The rivalry goes back to 1987, and since then the Canadian side has only won three times with their last victory coming in 2001.

It was at the 2012 London Olympics, however, that the rivalry intensified. In those Olympic games, Canada suffered a crushing 4-3 defeat in extra time that saw the Americans advance to the final where they captured their fourth gold medal. That semifinal game in London five years ago now drives Canada to defeat the United States.

On Thursday, that determination showed as Canada came from a goal down to tie the game in the 57th minute after falling 1-0 in the 31st minute. The Canadians pressed the U.S. backline and broke up many of the Americans' passes and disrupted the midfield and attack. Had it not been for Alyssa Naeher brilliantly coming off her line to stop a potential game-winner in the 85th minute, Canada would have walked away victorious. 

Though the game ended in a tie, Canada sent a very clear message on Thursday, with a mix of young players and veterans, that they will not make it easy as they prep for their next meeting in San Jose.

USWNT: A Hope to End on a Positive Note

It's been a tough year for the USWNT in terms of winning big-time games. There's still memories of the last place finish in the SheBelieves Cup in March where they lost to England and France. They also failed to capture the inaugural Tournament of Nations this past summer where they lost to Australia for the first time ever. And most recently, a tie against Canada where they looked shaky and were outplayed. The USA is 11-3-1 in 2017 as they head into their final game of the year.

U.S. head coach Jill Ellis has also used 2017 to learn about her team, trying several different formations, playing players in various positions, and giving call-ups to younger players. Source: Brad Smith - ISI Photos/ US Soccer
U.S. head coach Jill Ellis used 2017 to  try out several different formations, including playing players in various positions and giving call-ups to younger players | Source: Brad Smith - ISI Photos/ US Soccer

According to head coach Jill Ellis, 2017 was supposed to test the U.S. as they prepared for the 2019 World Cup. Post-game on Thursday, Ellis said that these types of games against top-ranked opponents give the USWNT a chance to learn and grow.

There is much truth to that statement that the U.S. needs games that will challenge them, but the USWNT is still finding themselves technically struggling against the top-ranked teams despite all of the experimentation, and that is a narrative that will need to change if they want to win the World Cup in 2019, starting with Canada in San Jose and for 2018.