Canada manages its defensive attitudes well at the Concacaf Women’s Championship

Canada were perfect at the Concacaf W Championship throughout the group stage, winning all three games, scoring nine goals and conceding none

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It’s a telltale sign that you’re a good football team when you get criticized after wins.

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Canada posted a perfect record in the Concacaf W Championship through to the group stage, winning all three games, scoring nine goals and conceding none.

They have dominated their first three opponents and head into the semi-final against Jamaica on Thursday (10 p.m. ET, OneSoccer) at the Universitario Stadium in San Nicolas De Los Garza, Mexico, as heavy favorites to reach the final.

Still, for some fans, a 6-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago, a 1-0 win over Panama and a 2-0 loss to Costa Rica weren’t dominant enough for the reigning Olympic champions, leaving too many shots on the course.

“Three wins, nine goals, nine points; I think overall as a coach you can’t complain about that,” said Canada’s head coach Bev Priestman. “Clean sheets win tournaments, and there were nine goals there and they all came from different places.

“What’s nice about the Costa Rica game is that the chances were there, we were in the right places and we created the chances and that in this heat (37°C), against a team that doesn’t concede , that’s enough for me as a team to stay true to the process.

Since winning the Olympic title a year ago, Canada has seen a change in the way their opponents approach games against them.

The three group opponents in the Concacaf W Championship filled their back line and were content to defend for long periods of the competition so as not to be embarrassed on the scoreboard.

Panama went so far as to start wasting time early in the competition in an effort to kill any flow or rhythm Canada might create.

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“I think we had a lot of opportunities in the group stage to try and break down a solid (defensive) block and that was a unique challenge for us and something we haven’t faced as much in our previous games. international friendlies,” said Canadian midfielder Quinn. “I think it’s a welcome challenge and I think we’ve made progress over the games to learn how we can do it as a team to break into good blocks and getting finishes on goal. It was a learning curve for us, but I was excited about how we adapted as a team to those blocks.

Despite having defensive walls of nine or 10 players at times, Canada still generated plenty of high-quality chances in their first three games, and the fact that they didn’t set aside the majority of those occasions drew criticism.

Still, the team is just one victory away from the final and a chance to clinch a spot at the 2024 Olympics in Paris. They have already qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 as one of four semi-finalists.

The United States and Costa Rica will meet in the other semifinal on Thursday.

“These Olympics mean the world to this group and that’s where we’re headed,” Priestman said. “We want to maintain our high standards wherever we go. Overall, I thought it was a professional performance against Costa Rica; it wasn’t perfect, but it was professional.

The Concacaf W Championship serves both as a qualification for the World Cup and for the Olympic Games. The winner earns a place in the Olympic tournament, while second and third place finishers will face off in the playoffs in September for another spot in Paris.

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If Canada overtakes Jamaica, they will likely face the United States in the final, which will be an Olympic rematch in the semi-finals. Canada beat the United States 1-0 at the Tokyo Olympics en route to the final.

“I think the Jamaica we played in 2020 is definitely not the Jamaica we see now, I think anyone can see that,” Priestman said. “They have signed many players from the WSL who are playing against the top players week in and week out. So we’re going to come in and respect that like we do for any opponent. They have fast and offensive threats that we need to take care of, but I expect them to make things difficult and compact.

APPOINTED GENERAL SECRETARY

Earl Cochrane was named Canada Soccer’s new General Secretary on Wednesday.

The former Toronto FC manager and acting deputy general secretary of Canada Soccer has a long list of tasks ahead of him to take over the post, which has been vacant since the departure of Peter Montopoli as Concacaf chief.

According to Soccer Canada, an extensive global search took place for the vacancy and Cochrane was the top candidate.

“I think it’s important to lay the foundation of the organization early on,” Cochrane said. “We are at a time of unprecedented success.

“Our women’s team has been responsible for much of that success for the better part of a decade; and then what our men have done over the last two years, going through a very difficult qualification process like no other, where we played 14 games last year to get to where we were.

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Canada qualified for a men’s World Cup for the first time since 1986 by securing a spot in the 2022 tournament in Qatar starting in November.

One of Cochrane’s most pressing issues is securing a new contract with the men’s and women’s national teams. Canadian men boycotted a scheduled international friendly against Panama in June to protest the state of negotiations.

“Negotiations are ongoing, I’m pretty confident where we are,” Cochrane said. “We sent a proposal on June 23 and it was received. We haven’t received any feedback from the players on the men’s side yet, and we hope to receive something in the very near future, so that we can get to work.

FRIENDLY MEN

Canada’s men’s national team travel to Austria in September to take on Qatar and Uruguay for a pair of exhibition matches ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Canada will face Qatar on September 23 in Vienna, then face Uruguay on September 27, also in the Austrian capital.

Qatar as hosts and Uruguay outside of South America qualified for the World Cup. Uruguay have won the World Cup twice and reached the semi-finals of the tournament in 2010 in South Africa.

Email: [email protected]

On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest

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