International Friendly Match Final Score: Mexico 2-1 Canada Goalscorers: Mayor 19', Cervantes 76'; Huitema 86'
Match in a minute or lessThe Canadian women's national team fell 2-1 to Mexico in an international friendly match on Saturday afternoon at the Centro de Alto Rendimiento in Mexico City. The home side took the lead in the 19th minute as Stephany Mayor converted a penalty given up by Vanessa Gilles, beating Kailen Sheridan with a shot right down the middle of the net. They doubled their lead in the 76th minute, as Alicia Cervantes headed home from close range, taking advantage of a rebound after an initial save from Sheridan. Jordyn Huitema gave Canada a lifeline in the 86th minute, volleying the ball through the legs of a defender and into the bottom left corner of the goal. Canada dominated the last 15-20 minutes of the match, piling the pressure on Mexico, but it was too little too late and an equalizer would never come. Canada appealed for what seemed to be an obvious penalty as Cloé Lacasse was fouled in the penalty area, but the referee waved away the protests, and the visitors were denied a late chance to score. It was Canada's first loss since the SheBelieves Cup in February, and snapped a record 12-game unbeaten run.
Bev Priestman gives new players a chance to impressWith some key players absent from the squad -- including Janine Beckie, Ashley Lawrence, and Shelina Zadorsky, among others -- Bev Priestman used this match to give minutes to some new, and returning, players. In the starting lineup, KC Current midfielder Victoria Pickett was handed an international debut, playing a right wingback role in a new formation that Priestman began the match with (more on that in a moment). Starting at the other wingback position was Marie Levasseur, making her first appearance for Canada since 2017. Both Levasseur, who plays for the Division 1 Féminine side FC Fleury 91, and Pickett were brought into the fold for the two Gold Medal Celebration Tour matches against New Zealand, but didn't step on the pitch. Both looked solid defensively, but Canada didn't create a lot of chances in wide areas going forward for the majority of the match. At halftime, Sura Yekka replaced Pickett, coming on for her first appearance for the senior side since 2015. The Le Havre AC defender hasn't been involved with the national team since the U20 Women's World Cup in 2016, but put in a strong shift on the right side of the defence. In the closing stages in particular as Canada pushed for a goal, and then for an equalizer, Yekka was combining really well with Deanne Rose and fired in a pair of dangerous crosses. Cloé Lacasse was also given a long-awaited Canada debut in the 64th minute, replacing Levasseur as Canada looked to make an attacking substitution. It was a first appearance for the 28-year-old striker at any level of the Canadian national setup -- coming in her third senior national team camp. Prior to that, she had only ever been called into the U20 setup once back in 2012. Lacasse looked lively in her 30 or so minutes of action, and had a chance to score in the final moments of the match, but sent a shot wide of the target. All four of the new and returning players put in solid performances, and will be contention for more minutes on Tuesday as Canada play Mexico again in another friendly. Lacasse in particular could get an extended look as Canada try to find a much-needed goalscoring touch.
Organized Mexico side control match for 70 minutesMexico, quite simply, were the better team for the majority of Saturday's contest. They played with a chemistry and familiarity that was clear to see. This was aided by five of the starting eleven all playing for Tigres UANL Femenil, including three of their four defenders. Bianca Sierra, Cristina Ferral and Greta Espinoza all line up alongside one another at the club level, with Real Madrid right back Kenti Robles the odd one out across the backline. They were organized, playing a high line that caught Canada offside on three occasions, and combining well to play out of the back and get themselves out of trouble in tight spaces at times. The young midfield duo of Alexia Delgado and Diana García were impressive as well -- composed on the ball, and capable of unlocking the Canadian defence at any moment with a pass or run. García was on the receiving end of a foul in the penalty area by Vanessa Gilles, leading to the opening goal as Stephany Mayor converted from the spot. Canada dominated the possession, leading with 62%, but didn't do anything with it for a lot of the match, whereas Mexico were forced to counter-attack and try to create chances that way. There is room to improve for Mexico with the ball at their feet, as they completed just 69% of their passes, and if they can sharpen that up a bit more could cause even more problems for Canada in the rematch on Tuesday.
Canada experiment with back three, and start Sinclair a bit deeperFor a large part of Saturday's match, Bev Priestman had Canada lined up in a 3-4-1-2 formation, before eventually switching back to the 4-3-1-2 that they won Olympic gold with. Marie Levasseur and Victoria Pickett started on the left and right flanks respectively, with Julia Grosso and Desiree Scott in central midfield in between them. Allysha Chapman, Kadeisha Buchanan and Vanessa Gilles started in a back three, with Kailen Sheridan behind them in goal. In attack, Priestman started Nichelle Prince and Jessie Fleming up top, with Christine Sinclair playing in a deeper false nine role behind them, like an attacking central midfielder. Sinclair would play just 45 minutes before being replaced by Jordyn Huitema at the half, but her impressive off-ball movement and eye for a pass were there to see, as always. The backline were solid overall, allowing goals on a pair of set pieces, but Canada left a lot to be desired going forward while they were set up in the 3-4-1-2. The three centre-backs that started are all impressive distributors of the ball, as are Scott and Grosso in the middle of the park, but the formation didn't really allow Canada to make the most of Levasseur or Pickett out wide. They were often left isolated as Canada tried to play centrally out of the back, something that was changed with a formation switch during the second half. When Cloé Lacasse replaced Levasseur just after the hour mark, Canada appeared to switch to a back four again. Lacasse came in as a striker, pushing Jessie Fleming back into midfield, Chapman to her natural left back position, and Sura Yekka (who replaced Pickett at halftime) back into a standard right back role. Deanne Rose also replaced Nichelle Prince in the second half, and she combined well with Yekka on the right side to create some chances, and play more crosses into the box. Canada dominated the final 15-20 minutes of the match, creating most of their chances to score on the afternoon, but were unable to earn a draw. There were things to like about the back three, and a friendly is the perfect reason to try them, but overall Canada looked much better when they switched back to the 4-3-1-2. It will be interesting to see what Priestman opts to start the match with against Mexico on Tuesday as Canada look to bounce back from this defeat.
CanPL.ca Player of the MatchDiana Garcia, Mexico Garcia was a key figure in an impressive Mexican midfield, and won the penalty that would become the match's opening goal.
What’s next?Canada has one more friendly against Mexico during this camp, on Tuesday, November 30. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 pm ET. Watch all matches live on OneSoccer. In addition to its website and app, OneSoccer is now available on TELUS channel 980 and on Fubo TV. Call your local cable provider to ask for OneSoccer today.