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Leroux lifts USWNT over Canada in 2014 opener

Leroux Press 1-31-2014 Getty


It was a rusty first showing of 2014 for the U.S. Women’s National Team in Frisco, Texas Friday night, but enough to eke out a 1-0 victory over a physical Canadian team with a chip on its shoulder.

The match didn’t quite deliver on the fireworks of the previous two times these sides met, but with Canadian-born Sydney Leroux securing a U.S. victory with a game-winning goal, the rivalry lives on.

In front of a sellout crowd of 20,862, it was a frantic game with both sides looking unsettled. But the difference came in the 78th from Leroux with some help from center back Becky Sauerbrunn. On a give-and-go with forward Christen Press, Sauerbrunn passed across the net to Leroux running onto the goal for an open tap in. It was a perfectly orchestrated play in a game that mostly lacked rhythm and connected lines.

The match was hyped beforehand with Canadian coach John Herdman calling it a “true derby” and U.S. coach Tom Sermanni saying it will feel “more like a fierce cup tie, rather than a friendly.” Fox Sports 1 sideline reporter Grant Wahl said during the broadcast that Leroux was asked to tone down her celebration if were to score, likely to stave off any backlash from Canadian fans who didn’t appreciate Leroux’s silencing of the crowd at BMO Field in Toronto last June.

Coming off a bitter loss to the U.S. at the London 2012 Olympics and the tense June friendly, Canada has made no bones about wanting to knock the top-ranked USWNT down some notches. It showed Friday, with an aggressive Canada collecting three yellow cards and 16 fouls overall to the USWNT’s three. The win extends the USWNT’s unbeaten streak to 40 games now and its all-time record against Canada to 43-3-5.

The U.S. controlled the midfield for most of the match, but offered poor service to their forwards early on. The USWNT outshot Canada 15-7 but had trouble finishing. The Canadians defended well, shutting down angles and forcing the U.S. to try low-percentage shots from wide positions. But Canada struggled desperately to get out of their own third for much of the match with slow decision-making and trouble connecting passes.

The U.S. came out in a 4-4-2 with Abby Wambach and Leroux up top. Leroux had been at the center of the bulk of the USWNT’s chances with Wambach unable to make an impact. Forward Alex Morgan was out with an ankle injury and the match marked the return of forward Amy Rodriguez, who last took the field for the USWNT on Dec. 15, 2012 before Sermanni started.

The USWNT continues a three-match set with two matches against Russia on Feb. 8 in Boca Raton, Fla. and Feb. 12 in Atlanta.


What did you think of the match? How does the USWNT look going into 2014? Is Canada looking better than the last time they played the U.S.? Is Leroux the future of the USWNT?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Haven’t understood the USWNT coaching selections in years ( a wee bit better during the Olympics). 4-4-2?!? Perfectly bad for a team that wants to play quick combinations through midfield into the box.
    Cox is not remotely in the same class as Krieger, O’Hara, or Dunn.
    Syd is not remotely the same quality player as Press or Morgan – but she is very fast – O’Reilly is no longer very fast – Syd would help us much more on the wing instead of O’Reilly. Dunn is MUCH better than Cox at FB, better than Brian at HMid, and better than O’Reilly at wing. Johnston is also better than Brian at HMid.
    All very strange – I don’t think any of these comparisons are even controversial.
    And yes, I love Abby too, but its really time to switch her role to speciality role player instead of leading the line – she is no longer physically dominant, and many players have tons more quality on the ball.
    Syd gets credit for the goal – but the goal was all about Becky’s run and Press’s perfect pass. Even O’Reilly could have put that one away.
    The coaching is going to have to get a ton better to win the WC next year.

  2. The game was disappointing despite the result. Canada marked well in the box negating the US one note attack plan until Sauerbrunn took things into her own hands. The US needs a diversified attack to score against the better defenses. The threat of Lloyd was also missed at the top of the box. Lloyd seems like the only CM willing to go right at the defense causing the defense to shift and shake players loose. They also missed Morgan and her ability to create goals out of thin air. On the bright side Brian passed a major test. I would have liked to see her father forward on occasion with Holiday rotating back.

  3. I think the uswnt’s performance was underwhelming for the most part. No rhythm, not connecting passes and keeping possession. Part of that was because of what Canada was doing but part of it was because the team doesn’t click together all that well. Some individual players did great, some not so much but the issue for me is how they work together as a team. We all know there is a lot of individual talent, that has never been the problem, but how do they perform as a team, what style do they play, those are the questions. It’s not only about winning games because they’ll win most of them anyway and it’s only a few teams in the world that can actually challenge them. But those are the teams they’re going to have to face when it matters, come wc and olympics. I know I want to see them play a more possession-oriented game, build up attacks through the midfield, keep the ball on the ground for a change. I hope we see better things in the Russia games.
    As for Leroux, she’s good. Is she the future of the uswnt? Well, she’s definitely part of it. Her and Morgan and Press are all part of the future – I’d just like to see more of them in the present too, let’s not have this future start after 2015 ok? I think that would be a mistake.

  4. Leroux was one of few stand outs in the game. but the fact that it took creative play from a centre back to score shows what kind of game it was!! Sauerbrunn was excellent all game. such a great rivalry, really exciting to watch even if neither team played as well as they can

    • You might be sexist if:

      you find you don’t feel similarly bored by watching male sports at any youth level, or by watching any men’s match that does not feature a clash between 2 of the top, say, 20 international or club sides in the world.

      • Well said. By that logic, he shouldn’t enjoy watching MLS because EPL is so much better. The fact that this comment comes from a guy named “MLSsnob” is hilarious. Why do sexist jerks feel the need to go into comment sections on women’s soccer and spread their sexist jerkiness?

  5. Glad that it was Syd who scored. Really like her style of play and how hard she goes at defenses. For Broon and Press to be involved in her goal makes it that much sweeter- would love to see those two get more time.

    • Leroux just stood at the post and tapped it in a la Wambach. She was unimpressive for most of the game. Broon and Press on the give and go made this goal.. Ali Krieger was outstanding for the whole game and should have been considered for Woman of the match as well

  6. Is the US V Canada really a “derby”? As I understand “derby” and “rivalry” are not exactly the same, with derby being about local geographic proximity. (eg, every match between London clubs is a London derby, but not every London derby is necessarily a rivalry, while Barca v Real Madrid is a huge rivalry, but not generally referred to as a derby)

    I suppose it could be a “North American Derby”, but that’s a larger scale of geography than I usually hear.

    • You should definitely call John Herdman and let him know that you’ve thoroughly researched it and international derbies don’t exist so he can’t say it anymore.

    • There are derby matches that don’t involve teams from the same city. Any rivalry can be called a derby. Newcastle-Sunderland is an example of one, as well as derby matches in Italy (Juve-Milan among others) and Portugal to name a few.

      So yes, USWNT-Canada can be called a derby, but you don’t have to agree that it is.

  7. Becky Sauerbrunn’s dynamic run that provided the assist was the real story of the game. Dmid pushed up on the attack, any forward sitting on the back post should finish.

  8. The “traitor / we was robbed” crowd is out in force on social media. The US needed a Canadian to score and win it for them, and so on. That so many people (also about the men’s side of the game, of course) think this way and yet continue to watch international soccer is a real head scratcher…


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