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Late Leroux goal keeps U.S.’s streak against Canada alive

May 8, 2014, 11:04 PM EDT

Sydney Leroux, USWNT, Mexico v United States Getty Images

A first half goal from center back Kadeisha Buchanan put Canada on the verge of a breakthrough, but after its former resident turned nemesis equalized late in the second half, the team’s long winless run against the United States continues. With Sydney Leroux beating Erin McLeod in the 78th minute, the United States came back for a 1-1 draw in Winnipeg, Manitoba, running the team’s unbeaten streak against its northern rivals to 30 games.

Canada took the lead after 35 minutes when Buchanan, an 18-year-old defender from the University of West Virginia, headed Diana Matheson’s corner into the left of Hope Solo’s goal, providing the home side a lead it’d hold for over 40 minutes. Part of a defense that included two other teenagers (Surra Yekka, 17; Rebecca Quinn, 18), Buchanan spend most of the night giving a player of the match-caliber performance while keeping the U.S. off the scoresheet.

Twelve minutes from time, however, Canada’s hopes of claiming a fourth win in 56 games against the U.S. evaporated. On a cross from the right from substitute fullback Crystal Dunn, Leroux saw the ball dropto her at the far post, with her quick finish beating McLeod for another dramatic goal on Canadian soul.

Last June, the British Columbia-born Leroux scored the winning goal at Toronto’s BMO Field, giving the U.S. a 3-0 win in the teams’ first meeting since Canada’s controversial semifinal loss in the 2012 Summer Olympics.  Following her goal, Leroux responded to a crowd that had booed her introduction with a shushing finger against her lips, eventually lifting the U.S. crest toward the audience to reiterate her allegiance.

If there was one person Canadian fans wouldn’t have wanted to stand between them and a long-sought victory, it would have been Leroux. The players, however, probably won’t take things as personally. Instead, John Herdman’s team can take heart in a performance that looks like progress. The winless streak goes on, but so does the host team’s development ahead of the 2015 World Cup.

For the U.S., questions remain, but without a permanent head coach, it’s unclear who should answer them. The team again set out in a 4-3-3, starting veteran Abby Wambach at its tip, but failed to summon the intensity needed to pull off the setup. University of Virginia star Morgan Brian continues to be a willing subject in a defensive midfield experiment but at times appeared unaccustomed to playing at that level of the field.  The U.S. didn’t play badly, but for a team that just fired its coach while it sat No. 1 in the world, it didn’t play up its standards, either.

As hinted on ESPN3’s broadcast, Tyreso head coach Tony Gustavsson — a former assistant of Pia Sundhage — is now the favorite for the permanent job. Beyond current interim head coach Jill Ellis, it’s unclear what other candidates are being considered, with U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati having all but ruled out a NWSL candidate during an interview at halftime of this weekend’s Sky Blue-Boston match.  If his Gustavsson’s team’s participation in this month’s UEFA Champions League final is the only thing preventing the 40-year-old’s immediate appointment, the U.S. will surely have a new boss  by the time it faces France on June 14.

At that time, the U.S. can start moving forward. For now, the team’s treading water.

  1. lunasceiling - May 9, 2014 at 12:20 AM

    This was a somewhat listless and unfocused effort from the US at times, really. The connecting play was better than I expected without Heath and Rapinoe, but still wasn’t what I’d call good. Carli Lloyd looked out of sorts and poor Heather O’Reilly missed an absolute sitter. The back line was generally good…but completely blew the corner on which Buchanan scored…Van Hollebeke’s absence was as noticeable and heath and Rapinoe’s, I’d say.

    If anything, I’d say the ever-improving Canadian side was the better team, and we were fortunate to get the draw. We weren’t bad…but this wasn’t the USWMT the world fears.

    • sibertt - May 9, 2014 at 9:38 AM

      HAO, Press, and Lloyd all underperformed. For Lloyd at least, we know her club game is good, and on the NT her performance usually scales to the importance of the match, so I’m not too worried about her. Press does well with a club team of superstars, but I’m interested to see if she can become Chicago’s much-needed scoring threat as well. HAO… dunno. Canada is definitely improving, though, and they’ve finally found a group of youngsters to saddle their hopes with for future growth, so good on them in that sense.

  2. taylor100l - May 9, 2014 at 12:23 AM

    * In the FIRST meeting since the SF loss in 2012, Leroux scored the extra time goal in a 3-0 win (with Morgan scoring the first two goals), which was celebrated w/ controversy. It’s in the SECOND meeting in Dallas, Leroux scored the winning goal in a 1-0 win.

  3. taylor100l - May 9, 2014 at 12:32 AM

    I’m a little dumbfounded why the USWNT insists of calling up and playing attacking midfielders as defensive midfielders. I suppose they are serviceable but diminishes their quality.

    Are there really no holding midfielders in the pipeline? Becky Edwards is quality and certainty deserves a shot. Brooks also looked promising with her short time at NT camps. I’m afraid that Edwards will continue to be overlooked while playing with a young and unproven Dash team. Long who has looked good as AM was capped while playing a DM. What?!@

    Oh, CANWNT outplayed USWNT first half, but US had opportunities late in the game to win a game they perhaps they shouldn’t get 3 pts. Golden opportunities missed by HAO and Press.

    • lunasceiling - May 9, 2014 at 9:53 AM

      Great observations. Allie Long was mediocre last NWSL season as a holding mid (I criticized her starting in that spot over Courtney Wetzel), but was a completely different player when moved into an AM role. So far this season, I think she’s been the best Thorn not named Nadine Angerer. And as you say, Becky Edwards is quality…why isn’t she playing?

  4. kernelthai - May 9, 2014 at 1:47 AM

    I was less interested in Canada than I was in Ellis. With a month to prepare I was hoping Ellis, as her old coach, would find a way to effectively use Holiday. That didnt happen. I was hoping Ellis would find a way to get more scorers involved in the attack. Instead her plan seemed to center on Wambach taking on most of the load at a time when reasonable minds would be looking to reduce her load. I was hoping to see the first stages of plan to win a world cup. Instead i saw the dust blown off failed plans to win previous world cups. Regardless of the draw it was most disappointing.

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