Benson's Breakdown: U.S. vs. Canada
I think we all saw a match that we expected to see where the U.S. had more of the possession, but Canada was flying around causing havoc for the American backline.
Canada wanted to make it into more of a physical match but the U.S. knew it would be to its advantage if it could maintain possession by keeping the ball on the ground and forcing the Canadians to chase all over the field.
In the first half, Canada did a great job making the game a battle which showed in the 1-1 score at halftime. But by the second half, the Canadians were a little tired and the U.S. did an even better job of possessing the ball and making them chase even more.
Overall, the U.S. came out and played with a lot of emotion and showed the mentality of a U.S. women's soccer player and beat a good Canadian team soundly.
Defense: This defense has been so solid throughout this entire World Cup. They showed up everyday and played extremely well. On Saturday, they struggled a bit in the first half with the three young Canadian strikers. They got more stretched out than they have in any other game but recovered nicely in the second half. They were very solid in the second half keeping possession and covering for each other like they did in every other game. I also thought that Christie Pearce had a positive impact getting into the attack and going up and down the flank. This is something I thought the U.S. was lacking a bit against Germany.
Midfield: I thought all four players played extremely well. Mia Hamm was playing the attacking midfield role today and she did an awesome job of making that diagonal run to get into the flanks. She was dangerous and got behind the Canadian backline running down the flanks numerous times, which created great scoring opportunities for the U.S.
In the first half, I thought Shannon Boxx was getting stuck a little bit too far up the field which was letting Canada create some counterattacks, but I thought her position was much better in the second half which helped the U.S. keep possession. And what can you say about Kristine Lilly and Julie Foudy, two extremely talented players that had another very solid match for the U.S. Their leadership and work ethic was displayed every time they stepped on the field during this World Cup.
Forwards: Whenever you play a physical team like Canada it is going to be a rough game for the forwards. I thought Abby Wambach, Cindy Parlow, Tiffeny Milbrett, and Shannon MacMillan did a great job of keeping their composure while being whacked and thrown around most of the game.
They all were dangerous in the box and created many opportunities that paid off today with three goals. Wambach fought to keep that first ball alive that Lilly ended up sending into the upper 90. The rest of the front-runners also fought and battled through the entire game. Sometimes it is easy to get taken out of your game when you are fouled so many times but they did a super job of staying focused. I think that shows fans the focus the U.S. players have at all times. These forwards set the tempo for defending all tournament and they did it again in this game.
Although the U.S. didn't win this World Cup, I thought they played a very solid tournament. I know to them this is not an acceptable performance because they didn't win it all. These women work so hard that anything other than the championship is not acceptable and that is what makes them so amazing. They demand the most out of themselves which brings out the best in each and every one of them. If this is the last World Cup that some of them play in, they ended it with a great victory and have showed the world and myself how to represent my country and my sport to the world. The ones who don't return will be missed greatly.
Jenny Benson, U.S. Women's National Team pool player and former Philadelphia Charge defender, is covering the Women's World Cup for ESPN Soccernet.com.