Canada’s head coach John Herdman walks off the field after first half women’s friendly soccer action against the United States. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canadian women finish the year unchanged at No. 5 in FIFA world soccer rankings

TORONTO — The Canadian women’s soccer team will finish the year unchanged in fifth place in the FIFA world rankings.

But there was change around John Herdman’s side as Australia and France swapped spots, with Australia moving up to No. 4 and France falling to No. 6.

The U.S. remained atop the standings with Germany and England unchanged in second and third. It’s the third year in a row that has ended with the Americans on top.

Canada started 2017 at No. 4, reaching that all-time high in August 2016 in the wake of its bronze-medal performance at the Rio Olympics. The Canadian women gained 93 ranking points and moved up six spots after beating host Brazil 2-1 in the third-place match.

It marked the first time that Canada had cracked the top five, surpassing its previous high of seventh. The 93-point gain, meanwhile, was a record in the 13-year history of the rankings.

It dropped to No. 5 in September 2017 — after the UEFA Women’s Championship moved England up two places to No. 3 while bumping France to No. 4 and Canada to No. 5. Still Herdman saw positives in the ratings given Canada trailed fourth-place France by just three points and No. 3 England by 10 points.

Canada, at 2,023 points, is now seven points behind Australia and 10 back of England.

The latest ratings see Australia enter the top five for the first time thanks to a seven-match winning streak that includes victories over Brazil, China, Japan, and the U.S.

Germany remains second despite a shock home loss to No. 20 Iceland. The Germans, at 2,052 points, are just 19 points clear of England, their smallest lead over a European rival since 2009.

The rest of the top 10 has the Netherlands at No. 7, followed by Brazil (up 1), Japan (down 1) and Sweden (up 1).

North Korea fell out of the top 10, dropping one place to No. 11.

Others movers were No. 13 Spain (up 4) and No. 29 Ireland (up 4) thanks to impressive European Women World Cup qualifying results.

The next ranking will be released March 23, 2018.

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