The 2022 CONCACAF W Championship has reached the final match, but there is little surprise about the participants. As expected, the United States Women’s National Team is taking on rivals Canada at the Estadio BBVA in Guadalupe, Mexico. With World Cup entry settled after the group stage, the regional title and automatic qualification for the 2024 Olympics are on the line. The loser will face off against the competition’s third-place finisher in a future playoff.
This is the 63rd all-time meeting between the two nations, with the USWNT holding a 51-4-7 advantage, most recently registering a 1-0 win during the 2021 SheBelieves Cup. Canada qualified automatically for the W Championship based on FIFA World Rankings. The tournament run began in Group B with victories over Trinidad and Tobago (6-0), Panama (1-0), and Costa Rica (2-0). The semifinal round was a 3-0 win against Jamaica.
Bev Priestman was appointed to the manager role in October of 2020 after spells with youth sides in the Canada and England programs. The 36-year-old’s tenure got off to an incredible start by winning the long-deserved gold medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics. While claiming a third CONCACAF title would be a feather in her cap, the ultimate goal remains that elusive World Cup for a country yet to reach the final.
Priestman is looking forward to the challenge. “You always want to test yourselves and the U.S. are an incredible team,” the manager said after defeating Jamaica. “I know that they’ll definitely be coming into this game with Tokyo in the back of their mind. They’ll want to put that right. There’s a lot on the line. And I do think playing a team like the U.S. will bring out some of our strengths that maybe teams haven’t allowed us to do.”
Your #CANWNT Squad for W Championship!— CAN Soccer’s WNT (@CANWNT) June 24, 2022
Canada Soccer have announced their 23-player roster for the 2022 Concacaf W Championship set to be played in Mexico this July.
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Priestman named a 23-player roster for the competition. Nine talents are based in Europe, while the National Women’s Soccer League is home to 11 call-ups. Several members of the gold-medal winning squad – including Évelyne Viens, Erin McLeod, and Gabrielle Carle – were not included in the group.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Kailen Sheridan (San Diego Wave), Sabrina D’Angelo (Vittsjö GIK), Lysianne Proulx (Unattached)
DEFENDERS (7): Kadeisha Buchanan (Chelsea), Ashley Lawrence (Paris Saint-Germain), Allysha Chapman (Houston Dash), Shelina Zadorsky (Tottenham Hotspur), Jayde Riviere (Michigan Wolverines), Vanessa Gilles (Angel City FC), Bianca St-Georges (Chicago Red Stars)
FORWARDS (7): Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns), Janine Beckie (Portland Thorns), Adriana Leon (Manchester United), Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash), Deanne Rose (Reading), Jordyn Huitema (OL Reign), Cloé Lacasse (Benfica)
Priestman deploys traditional 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 formations with aggressive fullbacks that overlap and join the attack. The run-of-play moves through the wings, with Canada’s focus in the final third mostly on crossing. The front line is athletic and punishes opponents that attempt to bring the ball out of the back, forcing turnovers and counter-attacking.
While a goalkeeper controversy is decidedly not brewing, number one Kailen Sheridan and serviceable back-up Sabrina D’Angelo started matches during the group stage. The former competes in the NWSL for San Diego Wave after five seasons with Gotham FC, being named to the Best XI in 2021. She is a highly acrobatic shot-stopper and has the confidence to avoid over-pursuit on breakaways by hanging back.
At 26 years of age, first-choice center back Kadeisha Buchanan has already made over 115 appearances with the national team. The world-class three-time Canadian Player of the Year recently joined Chelsea from Lyon, providing an elite mix of physical prowess and technical skill, while projecting “calmness” and leadership. Her likely partner is Vanessa Gilles of Angel City FC, who moved to the NWSL after four seasons in France. The Québécoise is an elite one-versus-one defender and fearless in the tackle, occasionally shouldering the enforcer role. Tottenham’s Shelina Zadorsky, a ball-winner and field-switcher, could also be in the starting lineup.
At left back is Ashley Lawrence of Paris Saint-Germain, whose heroic goal-line clearance helped secure last summer’s gold medal. She is an aggressive dribbler, constantly moving forward and looking to play a pinpoint cross or pick out the top corner of the net. Heading into her senior year at the University of Michigan, 21-year-old Jayde Riviere has been with the national team since debuting in 2017. The “explosive” defender is described as having “pace for days and a cannon of a right foot,” as well as holdover instincts from her days as an academy attacker.
Going by “The Destroyer,” Desiree Scott has patrolled in front of the back line since 2010. The 34-year-old Kansas City Current midfielder swarms passing lanes and makes the correct decisions during the build-up. Chelsea’s Jessie Fleming started every match thus far during the competition. She covers the entire width of the field, comfortably making runs behind the back line or streaking down the wing. The trio is completed by Quinn of OL Reign, named to the CONCACAF Best XI in 2018. Their best usage is as a box-to-box, linking the entire formation and maintaining possession.
Entering her second decade with the national team, Nichelle Prince has competed with the Houston Dash since being selected in the 2017 NWSL Draft. The 27-year-old will force turnovers and has the pace to blow past opponents, often serving as a one-person counter-attack. Former U.S. youth international Janine Beckie is a reliable scoring option but has also lined up at fullback. Similar to her teammate, the Coloradan possesses excellent speed and presses hard, while gradually improving her crossing abilities. Her role can be to camp out on the wing, receive passes, and bring the attack into the final third.
Leading the formation is the legend, the superstar, and one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, Christine Sinclair. At 39 years old, she is still scoring with regularity for the Portland Thorns, lethal with either foot and unselfish when setting up teammates. If the dead ball is from 30 yards out, the striker is the main target; any closer, the taker. In addition to a strong frame, her intelligence and read of the game allow her to beguile defenders with well-timed runs and layoffs.
The most recent World Cup and Olympic champions are facing off in a battle for regional supremacy, although both programs are going through a bit of a rebuild. Like the USWNT, Canada appears weaker than years past, struggling during the group stage against Panama and Costa Rica. The final should be a true toss-up and another tight battle for the annals of history shared by these two nations.