Soccer·Preview

Canadian women's soccer team takes on U.S. with Olympic spot at stake

Canada's women's soccer team is set to square off against the rival United States in Monday's CONCACAF W Championship final at Estadio BBVA in Monterrey, Mexico.

Squads set to renew rivalry in Monday's CONCACAF W Championship final

Canada's Janine Beckie, left, battles for the ball against Rose Lavelle of the U.S. during Canada's 1-0 semifinal win at the Tokyo Olympics last summer. (Andre Penner/The Associated Press)

It seemed almost inevitable that Canada and the United States would be the last two nations standing at the end of the CONCACAF W Championship when the tournament in Mexico kicked off earlier this month. 

And so it came to pass, with the two rivals set to square off in Monday's final at 10 p.m. ET at Estadio BBVA in Monterrey. 

The U.S., No. 1 in the current world rankings, and sixth-ranked Canada have already clinched berths at next year's FIFA World Cup by virtue of finishing in the top four of this competition. But winning the final offers much more than just bragging rights, as the CONCACAF champion will also automatically qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics. The runner-up will be forced to play the third-place team, either Costa Rica or Jamaica, in a playoff in September 2023 to claim the other Olympic berth on offer in the region. 

"For any world class player or a coach, these are the games you live for. These are the games where you have to bring your absolute best to get a result. In finals, anything can happen on the day. But I think it'll be what we expect it to be, which is a fantastic game of football where both teams will do anything to secure that Olympic spot," Canadian coach Bev Priestman said.


The match kicks off Monday at 10 p.m. ET live on OneSoccer. Watch a replay on CBC TV and CBC Gem on Tuesday at 1 a.m. ET.


The Americans have defeated the Canadians in each of their previous four encounters in the CONCACAF finals since the inaugural tournament in 1991. But Canada famously came out on top in its last meeting against its closest neighbours, earning a dramatic 1-0 win in the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympics en route to bringing home the gold. 

That result marked Canada's first win over the U.S. since 2001, and ended a 37-game winless skid against the Americans. Historically, this has been a rivalry that the U.S. has dominated since their first meeting against Canada in 1986, with 51 wins and only four losses in 63 all-time encounters.

But veteran midfielder Desiree Scott, who has 180 caps, believes this current Canadian team goes into Monday's final with a new level of bravado stemming from their win at last summer's Olympics. 

"Obviously after Tokyo, there's going to be a little [extra] bit of fire and fight there. But it's two quality top sides in the world going to war in a final, and I think that's exactly what it's going to be," Scott said. 

She added: "I think our confidence going into this match is at an all-time high. … Obviously, nothing is even given; it's earned and we know that coming into this final. But the mental space of the squad is a confident one, and we're really pumped for this final." 

Canada and the U.S. have had similar runs to the final in this competition. They topped their respective first-round groups without too much bother before posting 3-0 wins in their semifinals matches. Canada and the U.S. have won all four of their games by a combined score of 12-0. 

WATCH | Canada shuts out Jamaica to reach final:

Canada shuts out Jamaica, advances to CONCACAF final against USA

3 months ago
Duration 0:57
Jessie Fleming's early goal proved to be the winner as Canada defeated Jamaica 3-0 in the CONCACAF championship semi final.

The U.S. has undergone some changes since the Olympics, with coach Vlatko Andonovski calling in a number of younger players at the expense of some veterans. Those personnel moves have led to important tweaks in how they play. 

"I think the U.S. looks hungry. You look at the team and how they've evolved since we last played them in Tokyo, they've changed in some ways. Most of their goals used to come in the first 15 minutes. They're a team now that will look to finish games strong," Priestman offered.

Thus far, Canada has faced weaker, lower-ranked teams who have set out to frustrate them with their defensive tactics right from the opening kickoff. Rather than be adventurous in attack, nations have bunkered and defended in a low block against the Canadians. The Olympic champions have enjoyed the lion's share of possession in all four of their last outings, but have struggled at times to break down their opponents. 

Monday's final presents an entirely different challenge altogether for Canada. The U.S. will come right at Canada from the get-go, and try to unbalance Priestman's side with their aggressive, attacking style of play. 

"We have played teams that just allowed us a lot of time on the ball, an ability to build up and have much of the possession. I think this game is going to be much more transitional, very high tempo and very physical," Scott offered.

Canada's attacking depth

Encouragingly, Canada isn't just getting offensive production out of Christine Sinclair. Eight different players have accounted for the team's 12 goals in this tournament, a sign that it does have attacking depth beyond its iconic captain. 

The Canadians are also hurting teams in a variety of ways, rather than just through the middle. Janine Beckie, Jayde Riviere and Nichelle Prince have played starring roles in Canada's attack with their probing runs down the flanks. Beckie has also been one of Canada's best playmakers, setting up teammates with her sublime passes and dangerous crosses into the box from wide areas.

Maintaining a solid defensive foundation has helped the attack flourish so far in Mexico. That can't change for Canada in Monday's final. 

"For us, it's priding ourselves on our defensive play. We always do that. We're a tough side to beat. Coming into this [final] we have zero goals against. I think we need to keep that clean sheet, keep the Americans and their attack at bay. And then it's about being clinical in the final third. I know we can get chances and opportunities off crosses, especially with the attacking prowess that we bring. It's just finishing and capitalizing on those chances because there may not be very many," Scott said. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Molinaro

Freelance contributor

John Molinaro is one of the leading soccer journalists in Canada, having covered the game for over 20 years for a number of media outlets, including CBC Sports, Sportsnet and Sun Media. During his time at CBC Sports, John travelled to South Africa to cover the 2010 FIFA World Cup for CBCSports.ca. He is currently the editor-in-chief of TFC Republic, a website dedicated to in-depth coverage of the Canadian game.

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