Canada had 37 total shots against Trinidad and Tobago in their Group B opening match and had it not been for some pivotal changes in the 60th minute, the 1-0 scoreline from the first half would be all that they had to show for the complete dominance they had in this game.
Instead, head coach Bev Priestman decided to switch things up by introducing four substitutions when it seemed like Canada was running out of ideas and they paid off. In particular bringing on Julia Grosso for Desiree Scott gave Canada’s midfield a more creative functionality, and as Trinidad and Tobago tired, Grosso took full advantage of it.
The 21-year old Juventus midfielder has risen through the ranks for Canada, and until yesterday, had made 37 appearances for her country without scoring a goal. That all changed in the 67th minute when a flowing move resulted in Jessie Fleming finding Jordyn Huitema inside the penalty area, who then flicked the ball to Grosso and watched as her teammate finished well past the goalkeeper.
That was the breakthrough goal Canada had been searching for since going up by one in the first half. They had created a host of chances before this but couldn’t capitalise on them. It took a change in system and the introduction of a more forward-thinking midfielder in Grosso to bypass a stubborn backline and find that second goal they had been desperate for.
Grosso wasn’t done. She got her second goal in the 79th minute as she collected a pass from Janine Beckie that had bypassed everyone in front of her, took a touch and then finished well at the near post. Once again, her willingness to get inside the area and add one more body inside the box helped Canada and aided Grosso in getting her second ever international goal.
Desiree Scott is not a bad player. She just has a different profile than Grosso. In a game that required a bit more guile, a bit more attacking prowess from Canada, starting both Scott and Quinn was not an ideal match up for a team like Trinidad and Tobago that was set up to defend all match. Priestman realised this in the second half and brought on Grosso, and others, to influence the game differently and give Canada the goals their performance deserved.
Grosso’s impact wasn’t just in front of goal. She was more willing to join her forwards than either Quinn and Scott had been, this giving Trinidad and Tobago match up problems inside the area. Grosso also used fewer touches in the ball to keep the ball moving and shift the defense in front of her out of shape, giving the likes of Beckie and Fleming even more room than they had in the first half. Throughout her cameo in this game, Grosso was the starting point for all of Canada’s attacking movements and her ability to spot the right forward pass at the right time, gave Canada’s wide players the chance to really change the outcome of the game.
Against Panama, Priestman may opt to go with the same midfield of Quinn and Scott but if last night showed us anything, against a bunker, Grosso should be starting ahead of either of her more senior counterparts.