Slog, Slog, Slog

Canada picked up an important point with a 0-0 draw against New Zealand in their second group match of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup last night, but it felt like a pair of points lost against a team that coach John Herdman stated they were better than in his pre-match press conference on Wednesday.  Though the Canadians had a number of chances to get a game-winner, the combination of New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler and the crossbar denied them at every opportunity.  This was also another match where the current lack of a “heartbeat” in Canada’s starting midfield showed itself.  Changes need to be made for Monday’s fixture against the Netherlands if they expect to win the group and stay on-course for a deep run in the tournament.  Jessie Fleming should start in place of Ashley Lawrence (who has been filling in for the injured Diana Matheson), with the team moving either to a 4-4-2 (utilizing Sophie Schmidt and Desiree Scott in the center) or staying in the 4-3-3 but with Schmidt taking on the conductor/Xavi role in the midfield and Fleming playing the incisive/Iniesta post.  Schmidt is capable of managing the offense and I feel can be entrusted with dictating the match’s tempo and drawing the opposition’s attention away from the front line.  However the team is sent out or tweaked, it MUST find a way to impose itself on the match and create more offensive flow if they expect to advance beyond the first knockout round.  Should that happen, one would have to wonder if Herdman’s tactical inflexibility will be considered a primary cause for the disappointment/underachievement.

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