John Herdman will make his Canadian Women’s National Team coaching debut against the team’s most formidable rival, the USA. “It is a derby, so it is always a massive match,” said the 36 year-old coach.
The first match up takes place today, September 17, at Livestrong Sporting Park, home to MLS’ Sporting Kansas City in Kansas City, Kansas live on Fox Soccer Channel (7pm ET, 4pm PT). They face off again on Thursday, September 22 in Portland, Oregon at the Portland Timber’s Jeld-Wen Field live on ESPN2 and ESPN3 (11pm ET, 8pm PT).
Preparation for the two friendlies mark the first time both teams have regrouped since their polarizing results at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany. The USWNT (World No. 1) bounced back from its pre-tournament woes to play thrilling matches against Brazil in the quarter-finals and the eventual champions, Japan, in the final.
The “Celebration Series” tour features players exclusively from this summer’s WWC roster. Midfielder Shannon Boxx is expected to miss today’s game due to family commitments, but will be available for Thursday’s friendly. Despite goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart being seen wearing a medical boot recently, she appears to be training with the team.
Canada (ranked No. 8), on the other hand, is in a rebuilding process following its shocking last place finish at the WWC. The sudden resignation of then head coach Carolina Morace and her staff in July, which included assistant coach and former CanWNT midfielder and captain Andrea Neil, left the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) with little time to find a replacement before the 2011 Pan American Games in October and 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifiers in January.
Herdman, who was born in England, was announced as the new Canadian head coach in early September. He previously spent 10 years working in New Zealand, with five years as the Women’s head coach and technical director, leading the Football Ferns to the 2007 and 2011 WWC, as well as the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and propelling them to No. 24 in the world.
Herdman got his first opportunity to reinvigorate the CanWNT, meet players and assess new talent when he named a 22-player roster for the 10 day camp, which includes 15 players who recently competed at this summer’s WWC.
Three players are receiving their first senior CanWNT call-ups. Tina Romagnuolo, 21, of Syracuse University was a member of the 2008 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Tournament winning team. Eighteen year-old Jaclyn Sawicki from the University of Victoria is getting back into action after nursing a knee injury over the summer. Lauren Sesselmann, 28, recently played for Women’s Professional Soccer’s Atlanta Beat. The American born Purdue University graduate has no prior connection with the Canadian national team program, but has parental ties to the country.
The Canadian offence will be missing a key component as captain Christine Sinclair is being rested. Herdman revealed that he encouraged Sinclair to take a rare break, her first from national team commitments in two years. Candace Chapman, the often underrated but always reliable veteran central defender, is also being rested.
Sinclair and Chapman recently captured the WPS championship with the Western New York Flash. Chapman assisted Sinclair’s 64th minute goal, which eventually proved to be crucial as the Philadelphia Independence equalized in the dying moments of the game to force over-time and penalty kicks. Sinclair claimed the championship MVP award for her performance.
Other WWC roster players notably absent include Marie-Eve Nault due to an ankle injury and Brittany Timko. Jonelle Filigno (Rutgers University) and Jodi-Ann Robinson (University of West Florida) are tied up with school commitments, as is Chelsea Stewart, who is currently in camp but is expected to return to UCLA and miss the second friendly.
Perhaps the gem of Morace’s era, Josée Bélanger, who worked her way back onto the national team following almost a 6 year hiatus, is yet to be recalled. Bélanger has scored 5 goals in 11 appearances, but was omitted from the WWC roster after sustaining an ankle injury in early 2011.
Herdman hopes to continue to develop upon Morace’s possession style, which he calls “the modern approach” to football, while re-implementing the team’s well known physical style of Even Pellerud. Herdman told the media on Friday, “I think the general feeling is that they want to bring back the physicality… they want to be able to combine the technical side of the game but also to impose themselves on teams more.”
GK- Justine Bernier | 1989 | USA / University of Alabama
GK- Stephanie Labbé | 1986 | SWE / Piteå IF
GK- Karina LeBlanc | 1980 | USA / magicJack
GK- Erin McLeod | 1983 | SWE / Dalsjöfors G.o.I.F.
CB- Lexi Marton | 1990 | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
CB- Emily Zurrer | 1987 | SWE / Dalsjöfors G.o.I.F.
FB- Melanie Booth | 1984 | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
FB- Robyn Gayle | 1985 | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
FB- Lauren Sesselmann | 1983 | USA / Atlanta Beat
FB- Rhian Wilkinson | 1982 | NOR / Lillestrøm SK Kvinner
M- Kaylyn Kyle | 1988 | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
M- Diana Matheson | 1984 | NOR / Lillestrøm SK Kvinner
M- Carmelina Moscato | 1984 | SWE / Piteå IF
M- Kelly Parker | 1981 | USA / Atlanta Beat
M- Tina Romagnuolo | 1990 | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
M- Jaclyn Sawicki | 1992 | CAN / University of Victoria
M- Sophie Schmidt | 1988 | USA / magicJack
M- Desiree Scott | 1987 | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
M- Diamond Simpson | 1993 | CAN / Hamilton FC
M- Chelsea Stewart | 1990 | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
F- Christina Julien | 1988 | CAN / Ottawa Fury
F- Melissa Tancredi | 1981 | SWE / Piteå IF
2011 PanAmerican Games
Canada will send its Senior Women’s team to compete at the PanAm Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, October 14-30.
Both semi-finals will be contested on October 25 with the winner of Group B taking on the runner-up in Group A, and the winner of Group A battling the Group B runner-up.
Football competition will conclude on October 27 with the third place and championship games.
Played every four years, Canada has been relatively successful at the PanAm Games, capturing 4th place in 1999, 2nd in 2003 and 3rd in 2007.
Canada will host the next PanAm Games at Toronto 2015.
2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifiers
BC Place Stadium, the new home of MLS’ Vancouver Whitecaps, will host the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifiers, January 19-29. Discounted ticket packages went on sale September 9, while individual tickets will go on sale in the latter part of October, available through Ticketmaster.
Tournament packages are available for as low as $69 (plus applicable service fees) and feature an overall average ticket price of just under $6.50 per match across 15 matches in eight days of world class soccer. Additional discounts on family and group packages are also offered.
All tournament packages will be available in three price categories ($69/$95/$125) and include six doubleheaders (19-24 January), one all-important semi-final doubleheader (January 27) and the final (January 29).
The top two teams in the tournament will earn berths to the 2012 London Olympics. The eight teams battling for those spots include “host Canada, the USA and Mexico from North America; the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba from the Caribbean; and two countries from Central America that have yet to qualify.”
Canada hopes to qualify for consecutive Olympic Games after making it to Beijing in 2008, finishing in second place in the CONCACAF tournament behind the USA. The team was less than successful in qualifying for Athens 2004 when it lost to Mexico in the semi-finals.
The CONCACAF official draw will take place in late October.
Continued Canadian National Team Coverage
Rogers SportsNet, who partnered with CBC to provide coverage of the 2011 WWC, renewed its broadcasting rights with the CSA, announced September 14. The new five-year agreement includes “select home and away international friendly matches for Canada’s Men’s and Women’s National Teams”, as well as Canada’s 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Qualifying matches.
Unfortunately, this does not include the two upcoming friendlies against the USA.