Canada vs. USA takeaways: Quinn an emerging star for the Reds

Canada defender Rebecca Quinn (No. 5) and United States forward Megan Rapinoe chase after the ball during Sunday's game. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

After a spirited tilt in a 1-1 draw in Vancouver on Thursday, Canada and the United faced off once again on Sunday, this time on American soil, to wrap up their two-game friendly set.

Some heavy legs were on display from both sides, but that didn’t take away from the physical affair, which featured class finishing.

Here are my three takeaways from the U.S.’s 3-1 victory over Canada in San Jose, California.

Home team pounces early

The Americans struck first on the game’s opening corner kick when Megan Rapinoe connected with Julie Ertz, who flicked it in off her head. The ball’s deceptive pace eluded Canada’s Jessie Fleming, who was marking the near post, and goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe at the 11-minute mark.

The buildup on Canada’s goal early in the second half was fantastic. Captain Christine Sinclair spotted Nichelle Prince on the flank, who used her speed to race up the right as she found teammate Janine Beckie in the middle. Beckie tucked the ball past American goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher for her seventh goal this year and 20th of her national career.

From there, the U.S. did a good job of riding out the waves of Canadian possession. Canada’s strikers pressured high once again, but the Americans adjusted their play from three nights ago to distribute the ball smarter and quicker when deep in their third of the field.

Ashley Lawrence’s absence for Canada was noticeable. She provides stability down the right. Sunday’s game showed it’s tough to replace her consistency and vision.

The match was extremely chippy. It’s interesting seeing reactions from pundits and fans alike across social media when a meeting is dubbed as a ‘friendly’ because the usual response is it’s never friendly between Canada and the U.S. It’s true. There’s no backing down on tackles. The Americans don’t let off on Sinclair to show respect, nor do young Canadians shy away from difficult challenges. A number of players from both sides spent some time in pain on the pitch.

Tactical trend?

Canadian head coach John Herdman made two tweaks to his starting 11. With Lawrence returning to PSG in France, fullback Maegan Kelly made her first start and second appearance for Canada. Up top, Thursday’s goal scorer Adriana Leon started in place of Nichelle Prince.

Prince would get into the match at the 31-minute mark, swapping in for Rose, which is reminiscent of Thursday’s sub of Rose for Leon. Will this be a trend we continue to see in Herdman’s playbook as the qualifiers for the FIFA Women’s World Cup approach in 2018?

Quinn’s emergence

One item that I touched upon briefly after Thursday’s match was the strides we’ve seen from Rebecca Quinn. Shelina Zadorsky and Quinn complement one another well as a centre back duo – Quinn is comfortable taking chances moving up when Canada is in attacking mode. She is also very good in the air and is being used as a target on set pieces, hovering around the penalty area (see her touch early in the second half on Canada’s corner kick). It reminds me a lot of Herdman’s early tenure with Canada when he would push up centre-backs Candace Chapman, Emily Zurrer and Carmelina Moscato on corners.

Quinn has nearly five years of experience in the college game as a midfielder, which gives Herdman a number of options when using her. That versatility will help Quinn keep a spot in the starting 11, or at the minimum give her significant minutes when Kadeisha Buchanan returns.

Notes: Rose’s appearance on Sunday marked the 30th of her senior career. The 18-year-old striker has scored seven goals since her debut in 2015… Teenagers Ariel Young, Jayde Riviere and Julia Grosso all debuted for Canada on Sunday… The attendance at San Jose’s Avaya Stadium was 17,960 — nearly a sellout… Canada’s final game of 2017 is on Nov. 27 vs. Norway. Unlike this two-game leg against USA, the match against the Norwegians comes during a FIFA window, meaning Kadeisha Buchanan and Sophie Schmidt will be available for selection, along with Ashley Lawrence. However, it falls during the quarterfinals of the NCAA championship. Jessie Fleming (UCLA), Rebecca Quinn (Duke) and Deanne Rose (Florida) all play for schools that could make deep runs in the tournament and end up in the College Cup.