Canada will face the USA for an Olympic berth in women’s soccer
The final of the Concacaf W Championship will be a showdown between two very familiar foes.
In Thursday’s semifinals, Canada defeated Jamaica 3-0, while the United States took down Costa Rica 3-0. That means Monday’s final will be a rematch of the hard-fought semifinal from Tokyo 2020, in which Canada prevailed 1-0.
But it won’t just be for pride or for bragging rights between two of the world’s top teams (the Americans are ranked No. 1, Canada is No. 6): there’s also a spot at Paris 2024 on the line.
Only the winner is guaranteed an Olympic berth, though the runner-up gets a second chance in September 2023, against the winner of this tournament’s third-place match between Jamaica and Costa Rica.
Fleming steps up in semifinal
Canada once again got off to a quick start, as they’ve done so far in this tournament. In the 18th minute, Ashley Lawrence showed off her capabilities, barrelling down the left wing and sending in a well-weighted cross for Jessie Fleming, who headed home her third goal of the W Championship.
The Canadians got a few good chances in quick succession beginning in the 34th minute. First, Jayde Riviere saw a shot trickle past Jamaican goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer, but it came back off the goal post.
A minute later, Quinn got their head to a Janine Beckie cross but put it just wide. And a minute after that, Fleming sent in a curling left-footed strike from long range that forced a good diving save from Spencer.
Even without captain and top scorer Khadija Shaw, the Jamaicans were able to create a few nervy moments on the counterattack. But Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, who’s had very little to do thus far in the tournament, wasn’t seriously tested throughout the opening 45 minutes.
For the second time in the tournament, head coach Bev Priestman made an unorthodox quadruple substitution in the 53rd minute, bringing on Jordyn Huitema, Julia Grosso, Adriana Leon and Allysha Chapman.
Ten minutes later, one of those substitutes scored, but the last one that anyone would have expected. It was Chapman, the defender, making a determined run into the penalty area and scoring a header from a long, looping cross by Leon.
It was just Chapman’s second goal in her 91st appearance for the Canadian national team.
It was a more predictable outcome in the 77th minute. Beckie whipped in a good cross from the left side, nicely flicked on by Huitema and coolly finished by Leon for her 24th Canada goal.
The final countdown
Through four games, Canada and the United States have been equally dominant. Both teams have four wins, 12 goals scored and zero goals conceded.
That’s not altogether surprising, given that these two teams are the traditional heavyweights of the Concacaf region. But it sets up what should be a tantalizing final, with only one of the rivals set to book their ticket to the next Olympic Games.