Home Global Game Europe Canadian women lose to Germans by a goal; but it’s a flattering scoreline

Canadian women lose to Germans by a goal; but it’s a flattering scoreline

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Imagine that 2015 is upon us. We’re coming up to the Women’s World Cup.

If you were asked which of the elite countries we matches up best against, the country our women’s national team would be most likely to upset, chances are the answer would be United States. The U.S. overwhelms you with passion and athleticism, but the rivalry brings out the best in Canada — and John Herdman’s young Canadians have shown that they can handle the athleticism.

And that’s what made Germany’s visit so important. As much as the Americans offer Canada the best possible chance for an upset in 2015, our women’s national team doesn’t match up all that well with sides that are very technical in nature. Our defenders are young and can handle the physical challenges that Abby Wambach and Sydney Leroux might present in 2015; but we’re not so sure if they can handle sides that can pick you apart with a series of precise passes or a clever change of play.

Canada had that very challenge on Wednesday night at BC Place; a high-profile Women’s World Cup tuneup against the Germans. And, even though the scoreline was a respectable 2-1 for the visitors, you’d have a hard time feeling good about this match if you were a Canadian supporter.

Sophie Schmidt scores for Canada PHOTO: PAUL YATES/CANADA SOCCER

In the May friendly against the U.S., which ended in a draw, Canada’s defence looked resilient. On Wednesday, it alternated between being picked apart and self destructing. Make no mistake; if not for some very good goalkeeping — in the first half from Karina LeBlanc and in the second from Erin McLeod — the Germans would have hung up a large number in the goals for column.

For those of us who have watched the Canadian women’s team evolve post-Olympic-bronze, we’ve seen a lot asked of players who are still in high school, trying to support the team’s core of thirty somethings. Against the U.S., the kids looked like they had grown up fast. Against the Germans, they looked like deer in headlights.

It started early: Canada casually turned a ball over in its own end; German forward Alexandra Popp pounced on the chance, and tried her luck from 35 yards out, attempting to chip LeBlanc. The ball crashed off the bar.

Then Kadeisha Buchanan, the defensive star of Canada’s last friendly, left a pass short in her own end, allowing German forward Anja Mittag the chance to go in alone on goal. LeBlanc did just enough to throw off Mittag’s shot.

Finally, at the half-hour mark, Lena Lotzen converted a cross from Simone Laudehr to give the Germans the breakthrough goal. Ironically, the cross came from the left wing, where Rhian Wilkinson — Canada’s opposing right back and the only veteran in the back line — was stationed.

Wilkinson was caught again on another cross from the left, but Bianca Schmidt blasted the finish wide from point-blank range.

Canada got to the half own just 1-0, but it felt much, much worse.

The Germans were able to vary their attacks. Down the left, down the right. A series of passes. And, sometimes, patiently waiting for Canada’s back line to push up, then bombing the ball over the top.

The Germans should have had the insurance goal near the start of the second half; Mittag pounced on a giveaway from teenager Jessie Fleming, but McLeod stopped the breakaway chance.

And, then, against the run of play, Canada got the equalizer. Diana Matheson’s pass into the penalty area was gloriously mishit by Sophie Schmidt. But the ball popped into the air, went over the head of keeper Nadine Angerer and fell over the line.

How did the Germans respond? With more waves of attack. With more possession. And they were duly rewarded when Laudehr converted a penalty after Lotzen was ruled to have been brought down by either Buchanan or Desiree Scott (all three players came together, doesn’t really matter who got called for the foul, does it?)

After that. Canada rarely threatened, and Germany got the result it deserved, even if the scoreline was kind to the hosts.

The Canadians will face the World Cup champs from Japan in October. Twice. Another technical team. We’ll see if Canada can show it can better handle a passing team the next time it takes the field.

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