PARIS — Canada is not accustomed to losing, at least not the current make-up of the national women’s soccer team.
The 2-1 defeat to Netherlands on Thursday at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup was the first time Canada lost since dropping the final of the CONCACAF Championship 2-0 to the United States in October.
Canada had a 10-game unbeaten streak snapped and conceded two goals for the first time since losing the continental championship to the United States.
While the loss was tough for Canada to take, it was not devastating to their championship aspirations at the World Cup. They had already qualified for the second round by virtue of previous wins against Cameroon and New Zealand.
The loss to the Netherlands simply meant the road to the final may be a little tougher for Canada with Sweden next in the Round of 16 here at the Parc des Princes on Monday. If Canada gets past Sweden, then they’ll likely face Germany in the quarterfinals.
While neither Sweden nor Germany are a walk in the park, Canada is still on the opposite side of the draw as the United States, France, England, Brazil and Australia.
Here are three takeaways from the loss to the Netherlands:
GAME OF INCHES
Canada were awarded a penalty a minute into the game when Janine Beckie took the ball from Dutch defender Desiree Van Lunteren and was subsequently tripped and fell in the area.
As Christine Sinclair lined up to take the penalty the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) penalty official suggested French referee Stephanie Frappart take another look at the infraction.
Replays showed Van Lunteren had stepped on Beckie’s left foot just inches outside of the penalty area. The call was reversed from a penalty to a free kick on the edge of the area.
Had the infraction occurred a few centimetres further down the field, the penalty would have stood and Sinclair likely would have given Canada an early lead.
An early goal would have changed the complexion of the match as it would have forced the Netherlands to chase it. As it stood, the Netherlands survived the scare as Sinclair hit the ensuing free kick into the wall.
Backed by thousands of orange-clad supporters, the Netherlands went on to take control of the game in the half and had Canada on the defensive.
“I thought we were just a little bit late to things in the first half,” Beckie said. “Not on the same page in terms of our press, I thought our passes were just a little bit off to one another. We put ourselves in some tough situations with passing. We look at it and we can move forward, but it’s a frustrating result.”
STILL IN THE FIGHT
Considering the lineup Kenneth Heiner-Moller put out against the Netherlands it was evident he was playing to win and wanted to finish first in the Group E standings.
A win would have pitted Canada against Japan in the second round, who are no means an easy out as tournament finalists four years ago and champions in 2011.
As it stands, Canada will have to get past Sweden on Monday at the Parc des Princes in Paris and if they are able to do that, a meeting with Germany awaits.
Canada defeated Sweden in a penalty shootout at the Algarve Cup in Spain this past April after the teams finished scoreless after 90 minutes of play. Prior to that, Canada lost 3-1 to Sweden at the 2018 Algarve Cup in Lagos, Portugal.
The last time Canada faced Sweden in a major tournament was at the 2012 Summer Olympics where they played to a 2-2 tie in Newcastle, England. Canada went on to win bronze in the tournament.
“I don’t think we’ll mind playing anyone in this tournament,” Heiner-Moller said. “I think this game (Thursday) showed that if we’re not stepping out there and playing our best, we can definitely lose to some of the teams that are left in the tournament. But I know if we can play to our best, we can beat everyone and includes whoever we might face in the next round.
“We hadn’t had any preference of going one way or the other. We were trying to win this match because that is what we do and that is what we do very well. We hadn’t lost in, I can’t even remember how long, but it’s a very, very bad feeling I can tell you that.”
A loss to Sweden would send Canada home.
Christine Sinclair showed she is still one of the premier strikers in the world at 36, netting her 182nd international goal and scoring in her fifth World Cup, equaling an accomplishment only set by Marta of Brazil.
Canada has four goals from four different scorers to this point the tournament and have shown they do have some options up front to support Sinclair.
Nichelle Prince did not start against the Netherlands after scoring against New Zealand, believe to be nursing a slight injury, but will likely be available against Sweden.
Jordyn Huitema, 18, made her World Cup debut and played the entire 90 minutes against the Netherlands, and after a nervy start looked dangerous.
Adriana Leon came on as a substitute for the second time and also got into some dangerous positions. It would be interesting to see what Leon could accomplish if she got a bit more time on the field.
“I think Jordyn did exceptionally well,” Heiner-Moller said. “She can play wide and she can play centrally and you saw that (Thursday) she can take players on one-v-one and I think she did one-v-three in the first half and got a shot off. She’s only 18, but she’s got a bright future ahead of her.”
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On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest