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The Week in Women's Football: Canada visits Europe; Candidates for Matildas job; France shock USWNT;

This week we focus on Canada's and the U.S.'s women's national teams trips to Europe to play Switzerland and Norway (for Canada) and France and Spain (for the U.S.) respectively. We also examine Alen Stajcic being terminated as head coach of Australia's women's national team and look at some candidates that have been mentioned to replace him.

Canada visits Europe for training and a high profile friendly with Norway.

Canada went to Europe this month for a full international friendly against Norway on January 22 in La Manga Spain, after a training match against Switzerland (a 0-0 tie in an unofficial game) on January 17. Canada defeated Norway 1-0 with a 66th minute headed goal from Christine Sinclair on a cross by Jenna Helstrom. Sinclair now has 178 international goals in her 275th international and is just seven goals away from setting the FIFA all-time goal scoring record, with only former American international Abby Wambach ahead of her.

Norway will compete this summer in the WWC in France while Switzerland, debutants in 2015, fell at the last stage of the four team UEFA playoff for one final playoff spot. Canada and Norway have always had a strong link since former Norwegian women's national team coach Even Pellerud came to Canada in 2000 and developed the national team program in 8 years from a floundering mess into a team capable of major results on the international stage, including a stunning fourth place finish in the 2003 Women's World Cup.

Canada has included four teenagers: Jordyn Huitema and Jayde Riviere—both 17 years old and who recently helped Canada earn a fourth-place finish at the recent 2018 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Uruguay 2018—and Julia Grosso (age 18) and Deanne Rose (age 19). Ottawa's Vanessa Gilles, who plays in France with Bordeaux, will be making her first appearance in a Canada Soccer National Team camp.

Nine players are with NWSL clubs, with an additional two playing for U.S. colleges, while 3 are based in Sweden, 3 in France and 1 in England, along with 3 who are based in Canada. Unassigned Adrianna Leon has cleared NWSL waivers and has been linked with West Ham United. Sophie Schmidt left Frankfurt after last season and is still without a club.

Canada Roster for January 2019 European Tour

#1 GK Stephanie Labbe, age 32, from Stony Plain, AB/ Linköpings FC (Sweden Damallsvenskan)
#2 FB Allysha Chapman, age 29, from Courtice, ON/ Houston Dash (NWSL)
#3 CB Kadeisha Buchanan, age 23, from Brampton, ON/ Olympique Lyonnais (Division 1 Féminine France)
#4 CB Shelina Zadorsky, age 26, from London, ON/ Orlando Pride (NWSL)
#5 M Rebecca Quinn, age 23, from Toronto, ON/ Washington Spirit (NWSL)
#6 F Deanne Rose, age 19, from Alliston, ON/ University of Florida Gators (NCAA)
#7 M Julia Grosso, age 18, from Vancouver, BC / Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite/ Canada Soccer Regional EXCEL Super Centre (British Columbia)
#9 F Jordyn Huitema, age 17, from Chilliwack, BC/ Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite/ Canada Soccer Regional EXCEL Super Centre (British Columbia)
#10 FB Ashley Lawrence, age 23, from Caledon, ON/Paris Saint Germain (Division 1 Féminine France)
#11 M Desiree Scott, age 31, from Winnipeg, MB/ Utah Royals FC (NWSL)
#12 F Christine Sinclair ( C ), age 35, from Burnaby, BC/ Portland Thorns (NWSL)
#13 M Sophie Schmidt, age 30, from Abbotsford, BC
#15 F Nichelle Prince, age 23, from Ajax, ON/ Houston Dash (NWSL)
#16 F Janine Beckie, age 24, from Highlands Ranch, CO/ Manchester City (FA Women's Super League)
#17 M Jessie Fleming, age 20, from London, ON/UCLA (NCAA)
#18 GK Sabrina D'Angelo, age 25, from Welland, ON/North Carolina Courage (NWSL)
#19 F Adriana Leon, age 26, from King City, ON
#20 FB Shannon Woeller, age 28, from Vancouver, BC/ Eskilstuna United DFF (Sweden Damallsvenskan)
#21 GK Kailen Sheridan, age 23, from Whitby, ON/ Sky Blue FC (NWSL)
#22 FB Lindsay Agnew, age 23, from Kingston, ON/ Houston Dash (NWSL)
#23 FB Jayde Riviere, age 17, from Markham, ON/ Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite/ Canada Soccer Regional EXCEL Super Centre (Ontario)
#24 FB/F Jenna Hellstrom, age 23, from Sudbury, ON/ Växjö DFF (Sweden Damallsvenskan)
#25 CB Vanessa Gilles, 22, from Ottawa, ON/ Les Girondins de Bordeaux (Division 1 Féminine France)

Norway's team was primarily home-based, with 16 from the Norwegian women's league, two each from Germany, England and Sweden and one from the United States.

Norway squad:

Ingrid Hjelmseth – Stabæk Fotball
Cecilie Hauståker Fiskerstrand – LSK Kvinner
Nora Neset Gjøen – Sandviken, IL
Maria Thorisdottir – Chelsea Ladies FC (England)
Ingrid Ryland – Djurgårdens IF (Sweden)
Ina Gausdal – Kolbotn IL
Cecilie Redisch Kvamme – Arna-Bjørnar Allianse Idrettslag
Kristine Bjørdal Leine – Røa Fotball Elite
Maren Nævdal Mjelde – Chelsea Ladies FC (England)
Kristine Minde – VfL Wolfsburg (Germany)
Elise Hove Thorsnes – Utah Royals FC (United States)
Ingrid Syrstad Engen – LSK Kvinner
Vilde Bøe Risa – Arna-Bjørnar Allianse Idrettslag
Emilie Bosshard Haavi – LSK Kvinner
Amalie Vevle Eikeland – Arna-Bjørnar Allianse Idrettslag
Nora Eide Lie – Kolbotn IL
Guro Reiten – LSK Kvinner
Caroline Graham Hansen – VfL Wolfsburg (Germany)
Lisa-Marie Karlseng Utland – FC Rosengård (Sweden)
Synne Skinnes Hansen – LSK Kvinner
Emilie Nautnes – Arna-Bjørnar Allianse Idrettslag
Isabell Lehn Herlovsen – Vålerenga Fotball
Therese Sessy Åsland – Røa Fotball Elite

U.S. loses first game against France, but wins second game in Europe against Spain

The U.S. lost 3-1 against a vibrant French side at Stade Océane in Le Havre on January 19, where the U.S. will play against Sweden in the World Cup this summer, in front of a sellout crowd of 23,000 on a cold evening.

France's 23-year-old forward Kadidiatou Diani (who has been at PSG for two seasons and played for her country in the 2012 U-17 Women's World Cup and 2014 U-20 Women's World Cup) scored twice, including a stunning blast in the 56th minute near the end line at the edge of the penalty box that sailed past goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars).

France's 20-year-old Marie-Antoinette Katoto (who has been with Paris St. Germain since 2015-16) added a third in the final minutes of regulation before Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit) scored in added time late in the second half. The U.S. had gone 28 previous matches without a loss. Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Casey Short, and Julie Ertz missed the game due to minor injuries, while Kelley O'Hara is still returning from ankle surgery, but is not yet game ready.

The Americans looked much better against Spain on January 22, winning 1-0 from a 54th minute goal by Christen Press, who came on at halftime and energized the U.S. offense. She scored after a solo 50-yard dash before slotting the ball past the goalkeeper, which was steered into the by a defender. Julie Ertz, Tobin Heath, Rose Lavelle and Megan Rapinoe all played against Spain after missing the France game.Danielle Colaprico (Chicago Red Stars), who came from Sydney FC for the matches, did not play against France and was not among the subs for the Spain game

- U.S. Women's National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Women's National Team vs. France
Date: January 19, 2019
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Stade Océane; Le Havre, France
Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. ET (8:30 p.m. local)
Attendance: 22,780 (sellout)
Weather: 37 degrees, cloudy

Scoring Summary: 1 2F
USA 0 1 1
FRA 1 2 3

FRA - Kadidiatou Diani (Delphine Cascarino) 9th minute
FRA - Kadidiatou Diani (Marion Torrent) 57
FRA - Marie-Atnoinette Katoto (Élise Bussaglia) 78
USA - Mallory Pugh (Carli Lloyd) 90+1

USA: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 2-Emily Sonnett (10-Carli Lloyd, 71), 7-Abby Dahlkemper, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 26-Emily Fox (12-Tierna Davidson, 53); 6-Morgan Brian, 9-Lindsey Horan (3-Sam Mewis, 84), 19-Crystal Dunn; 11-Mallory Pugh, 13-Alex Morgan (capt.) (20-Jessica McDonald, 84), 23-Christen Press
Substitutes not used: 16-Rose Lavelle, 21-Adrianna Franch, 22-Danielle Colaprico, 25-McCall Zerboni, 27-Andi Sullivan
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

FRANCE: 16-Sarah Bouhaddi; 4-Marion Torrent, 12-Aïssatou Tounkara, 3-Wendie Renard, 7-Amel Majri; 6-Amandine Henry (capt.), 15-Élise Bussaglia; 8-Delphine Cascarino (11-Marie-Antoinette Katoto, 69), 17-Gaëtane Thiney, 9-Eugénie Le Sommer; 20-Kadidiatou Diani (18-Viviane Asseyi, 83)
Substitutes not used: 10-Kenza Dali, 2-Ève Périsset, 13-Valérie Gauvin, 21-Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, 14-Charlotte Bilbault, 22-Sakina Karchaoui, 19-Charlotte Lorgere, 1-Solène Durand, 23-Onema Grace Geyoro, 5-Julie Debever
Head Coach: Corinne Diacre

Stats Summary: USA / FRA
Shots: 8 / 14
Shots on Goal: 4 / 9
Saves: 6 / 3
Corner Kicks: 3 / 8
Fouls: 4 / 8
Offside: 4 / 2

– U.S. Women's National Team Match Report –

Match: U.S. Women's National Team vs. Spain
Date: January 22, 2019
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Estadio José Rico Pérez; Alicante, Spain
Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. ET (8:30 p.m. local)
Attendance: 9,182
Weather: 52 degrees, partly cloudy

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
ESP 0 0 0

USA – Christen Press (Rose Lavelle) 54th minute

USA: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 2-Emily Sonnett (12-Tierna Davidson, 46), 7-Abby Dahlkemper, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 19-Crystal Dunn; 8-Julie Ertz (25-McCall Zerboni, 69), 9-Lindsey Horan (11-Mallory Pugh, 46), 16-Rose Lavelle (3-Sam Mewis, 76); 17-Tobin Heath (20-Jessica McDonald, 60), 13-Alex Morgan, 15-Megan Rapinoe (capt.) (23-Christen Press, 46)
Substitutes not used: 10-Carli Lloyd, 24-Ashlyn Harris, 27-Andi Sullivan
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

ESP: 13-Sandra Paños; 8-Marta Torrejón (capt.) (7-Marta Corredera, 65), 4-Irene Paredes, 20-Andrea Pereira, 16-Mapi León; 6-Vicky Losada (21-Andrea Sánchez Falcón, 60), 15-Silvia Meseguer, 11-Alexia Putellas; 9-Mariona Caldentey (18-Aitana Bonmatí, 73), 10-Jennifer Hermoso (22-Nahikari García, 79), 19-Amanda Sampedro (17-Lucía García, 73)
Substitutes not used: 1-Lola Gallardo, 23-Sun Quiñones, 5-Ivana Andrés, 3-Leila Ouahabi, 2-Celia Jiménez, 12-Marta Carro, 25-Ángela Sosa, 24-Alba Redondo
Head Coach: Jorge Vilda

Stats Summary: USA / ESP
Shots: 9 / 4
Shots on Goal: 3 / 2
Saves: 2 / 2
Corner Kicks: 4 / 1
Fouls: 17 / 8
Offside: 6 / 4

Stajcic is terminated as Australia's women's national team head coach

The Australian Football Federation (FFA) terminated Alen Stajcic as their national women's national team coach on January 18, with his assistant coach Nahuel Arrante resigning shortly afterwards. At the root of the dismissal was FFA dissatisfaction with the team culture that Stajcic was overseeing, driven by some Matildas' complaints about his leadership. The FFA investigated Stajcic via two confidential surveys as well as through interviews with players and staff, deciding that a change was needed to improve the team environment. Early this past week, a reporter in Australia told me via a telephone conversation that pressure was building on Stajcic, and that the question was whether he could survive through the Cup of Nations friendly tournament that Australia was hosting next month, much less the Women's World Cup which begins this June. He felt that the "storm of discontent could take him down." The storm enveloped Stajcic much sooner than expected.

There were many who were shocked by the FFA's decision, including Arrante, other coaches and even Matilda players. Arrarte said: "In all my years in football, as a player and coach, I have seldom come across a more dedicated and selfless individual. Alen is a man of passion and principles, not just performance. He pushed the boundaries because he understood that driving a culture of excellence in women's football was the only way forward. The remarkable results he achieved were a testament to his leadership." Canberra United coach Heather Garriock played for and coached with Stajcic and felt that he had been treated poorly: "He asked players to give everything of themselves for the nation, because he believed that Australia should aspire to be world champions. Going towards this year's World Cup, he had carefully crafted together a squad that was ready to carry out that mission. We understand there will be disgruntlement from time to time, especially among those players who miss out on selection, but his record of developing players and performances at major tournaments has put Australia on the world map."

Current Matildas' expressed shock and felt that they had been blindsided by the news. Chloe Logarzo (Sydney FC and who has played in Sweden, Norway and the U.S.) said on Twitter: "Shattered with what we have found out TODAY." Kyah Simon (Melbourne City/Houston Dash) said on Twitter: "Shocked/disappointed to hear Staj won't be taking us to the World Cup in less than 5 months."

Ironically, Stajcic was named head coach in 2014 just before the Women's Asian Cup and World Cup qualifiers, following the dismissal of Dutch coach Hesterine de Reus, who in a short time had turned many of the Matildas' against her with her Stalinist management style. Stajcic, who had been coaching Sydney FC's women's team the previous 6 seasons and had two Grand Finals victories, guided the team through a strong run of positive results, defeating nemesis Brazil in a Round of 16 match in Canada in 2015 to make the quarterfinals, and made the quarters again at Brazilian Olympics the next summer, falling to host Brazil on penalty kicks. Australia achieved an all-time best ranking of fourth in FIFA's national team rankings and is currently sixth under Stajcic.

Now the focus turns to who the FFA will appoint as interim head coach for the World Cup in June. Two W-League coaches—Mel Andreatta (Brisbane Roar) and Jeff Hopkins (Melbourne Victory)—have been mentioned, as well as native Australian Joe Montemurro, who leads Arsenal's women's team in England. Montemurro won two W-League titles with Melbourne City and then was promoted to an assistant role with the men's side but went abroad in late 2017 to take over Arsenal. He signed a contract extension in October of 2018 and said at the time: "I feel honored to have signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal. We've been working hard this year to reinvigorate the historic and special qualities of this team, and to implement an attractive style of football. We're pleased that recent early season results have so far reflected the hard work. I'm working with some of the greatest female footballers in the world and with a top-class support staff. We have incredible support from the wider Arsenal Football Club and I'm really excited to continue my role. I feel at home here—we are one big family." Arsenal is currently in second place in the English Super League with 30 points from 12 games, only one point behind Manchester City (31 points from 13 games) with a game in hand, and a solid chance to win their first English league title since the 2012 season.

Mel Andreatta is in her third season as Roar head coach and worked with the Matildas' at the Rio Olympics, so she has some experience with the full national team players. After missing the playoffs in her first season, last year she guided the Roar to the Premiership title (regular season champions) and has her team on track for a second consecutive semifinals appearance. Jeff Hopkins, a former national team player for his native Wales, has led Melbourne Victory to the top of the table this season but his relationship with the W-League goes all the way back to the first season in 2008/09, when he led Brisbane to the W-League Premiership and Grand Final championship. This reporter caught up with him after that season—while on holiday in Thailand—and he said: "The inaugural W-League has proven to be a great success in many areas; most importantly it has given the best Australian women footballers the opportunity to play in a highly competitive league, regular week-to-week games and [strive] for starting places." He wanted to see more imports in the league to provide more competition, which has certainly taken place over the years. Hopkins led the Roar to four consecutive Grand Finals through the 2011/12 season—winning two of them—before joining the Roar's men's side as a full-time assistant coach. He joined the Victory women's team ahead of the 2017/18 season.

Australia's situation mirrors what the men's national team went through ahead of the World Cup in Russia last year. In that case, Ang Postecoglou qualified Australia for the World Cup through the intercontinental playoffs but stepped down for family reasons. Dutch coach Bert Marwick stepped in as interim coach for the World Cup while long-time A-League coach Graham Arnold took over afterwards. For a short-term interim assignment, it would be probably be more expedient to select Andreatta or Hopkins for the position, with the W-League season almost finished and not starting again until next October. However, success in the WWC clearly should take away the interim label and bring a longer term contract. That fact may entice Montemurro to leave Arsenal if he is offered the job—the chance to lead his country and a legitimate final four threat in a Women's World Cup is a huge opportunity, though that may not be possible until after the WWC. Keep in mind that Australia is viewed by many to be the favorite to host the tournament in 2023, so the coach this summer, with a competitive performance, would seem to have a good chance to have contract extended through that next WWC. We will keep readers posted on this important story in the weeks ahead.

Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey

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