Tag Archives: 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualification

The CanWNT Year in Review

For better or for worse, many things happened over the course of 2011 for the Canadian Women’s National Team. Let’s take a look at what transpired:

Kara Lang’s Retirement

A promising career came to an end when Kara Lang announced her retirement from club and international soccer [watch here] on January 5. The then 24 year-old had suffered two ACL tears in her right knee, first in 2006 and again in 2009. Lang weighed her options for managing the pain in her knee in order to continue playing, but the ultimate decision was the best choice for her long-term health as knee replacement surgery, a lifetime of arthritis and continual use of anti-inflammatory drugs were potential aspects of her future.

Arguably one of the most well known figures of the CanWNT, Lang initially gained recognition as a 15 year-old on Canada’s U-19 Women’s World Cup team that finished in second place in 2002 and as the youngest player to suit up for the senior national team. She went on to represent Canada at the 2003 Women’s World Cup where they achieved their best ever result finishing fourth overall, as well as at the 2007 WWC and the WNT’s first Olympic appearance in Beijing 2008. With her apt for scoring goals from distance, the midfielder/striker rounded out her career with 34 goals in 92 caps.

Lang continues to have an active post-soccer career. She’s appeared as an analyst on Rogers Sportsnet for the 2011 WWC and hosts Rogers TV’s Your World This Week. Lang is also a yoga instructor at Shunyata Yoga, while being the Technical Director of Street Soccer Canada and coaching Toronto’s Street Soccer women’s team.

All White Kit caught up with Lang in August as she helped to raise money for Athletes for Africa’s Rock the Pitch Charity Soccer Tournament.

Yongchuan Cup Four Nations Tournament

The 2011 season began in China January 21-25. Late heroics by a tandem of veteran strikers made Canada’s opening match against the host country one of the most exciting of the year. After trailing by 2 goals through the first 45 minutes, Melissa Tancredi cut the score in half in the 56′ before assisting Sinclair’s equalizer in the 80′. The duo combined again in the 94′ for the game winner by Sinclair.

In the following game, the CanWNT’s 11 game unbeaten streak (9 wins, 2 draws) came to an end with a 2-1 loss to the USWNT. Lauren Cheney opened the scoring in the 54′ while Tancredi answered back just two minutes later. Lindsay Tarpley’s goal in the 71′ would prove to be the difference maker [watch here].

The tournament concluded against Sweden where Sinclair proved that she’s gotten leaner and faster within the past couple of years. Latching on to a clearing header by Emily Zurrer, Sinclair outran three Swedish defenders to slot in her third goal of the tournament [watch here]. With Canada and the US tied in wins, the latter was awarded first place for holding the head-to-head advantage, while Sinclair claimed the MVP award.

Carolina Morace vs. the CSA: Round 1

Well, on the bright side, at least this bit of news appeared on the front page of The Globe & Mail’s sports section, right?

On February 4, Carolina Morace announced her intentions to resign as head coach of the CanWNT upon the conclusion of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, citing differences in her vision for the program from that of the Canadian Soccer Association’s. One such disagreement stemmed from Morace’s desire for greater budgetary control.

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The CanWNT Announces Olympic Qualifying Roster

With approximately one month until the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifiers kicks off in Vancouver, B.C., the Canadian Women’s National Team announced their 20-player roster earlier this week.

Head coach John Herdman retains a core group of players who have anchored the team for the past several years, including 16 players who suited up for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 14 who brought home Pan American gold in October. The veteran experience matters, but it’s also “about picking the players that would be performing the best at that time” given the must-win situation having to place in the top two of the tournament in order to qualify for next year’s London Olympics.

Herdman admitted that Qualifiers isn’t “one of those events where you can start testing and developing players,” but 21 year-old Chelsea Buckland was impressive enough during November’s training camp to earn a roster spot for her first Senior National Team competition. “She moves well, the timing of her movement is good and she reads the game well,” Herdman said of the redshirt junior from Oregon State University.

Rutgers University’s Amélia Pietrangelo, 18, and University of Iowa’s Alyscha Mottershead, 20, were both on the cusp of making the final roster. Herdman described Pietrangelo’s situation as “pretty unlucky not to have been named to the squad,” and added that Mottershead “is another who’s shown some aptitude at this level.”

Perhaps the most surprising omission from the roster is centre back Emily Zurrer. Despite her youth, the 24 year-old University of Illinois graduate recently earned her 50th cap in November’s friendly against Sweden. Herdman said the cut was “a tough decision… She’s been a key player in the Canadian setup for the last few years. Mentally and emotionally, for her and for the team, it’s been a tough call.”

Injuries have stalled the hopes of competing at Olympic Qualifying for two players. Left back Marie-Eve Nault trained with the team in December after returning from surgery in the fall, but didn’t make the final roster. Jonelle Filigno strained her right Achilles’ tendon in September when Rutgers University hosted Villanova. The striker underwent surgery earlier this month.

Herdman maintains that Olympic roster spots, should Canada qualify, remain open to any such players who are currently on the outside looking in. He described the Olympic Qualifying roster as a “short-term decision” and expects everyone to compete in the coming months.

The CanWNT (and fans, for that matter) can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Diana Matheson is back in the fold. The ever industrious midfielder had surgery in November for an “ongoing problem” that had worsened over the course of 2011. Herdman admitted that Matheson’s recovery time will be “tight”, but he hopes that the medical team will have her fit and ready for the start of the tournament.

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Canada Awarded Rights to Host the 2015 Women’s World Cup

Canadian Soccer Association/FIFA Trophy Tour

My apologies for such sporadic updates! Here’s a rundown of some CanWNT related news.

2015 Women’s World Cup
The Bid

After submitting their Women’s World Cup 2015 Bid Book on February 11, the anti-climactic announcement came on March 3 when the FIFA Executive Committee officially named Canada as the host of the seventh WWC tournament. Their lone competitor, Zimbabwe, withdrew its bid a day earlier. The tournament will expand from 16 to 24 teams and from 32 matches to 52, reportedly running from mid-June to mid-July. Canada will also stage the 2014 U-20 WWC. Canada previously bid for the 2011 WWC, but hosting rights went to Germany.

2014 and 2015 will mark the fourth and fifth World Cups that Canada has hosted, previously being the site of the 1987 U-17 World Cup, the inaugural U-19 Women’s World Cup in 2002, and the U-20 World Cup in 2007.

A minimum of six cities were required in the bid submission. The seven current candidates include Edmonton, Alberta; Halifax, Nova Scotia, Moncton, New Brunswick; Montreal, Quebec; Ottawa, Ontario; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Notably absent from the bid (yet got more press attention than cities actually interested in hosting) is Toronto, who will be busy staging the 2015 Pan American Games July 10-26 and the ParaPan American Games August 7-14. Toronto was reportedly included in the initial bid process, but Tourism Toronto eventually declined to take part. However, the opportunity to become a host city is still open. The CSA General Secretary Peter Montopoli revealed that if Toronto changed its decision then, “they have to follow up and be a part of everything that everybody else has gotten to this point and this stage right now.”

Ian Troop, CEO of Pan Am Toronto 2015, told The Globe and Mail,

Yes, there were discussions [with the Canadian Soccer Association]… It comes down to logistics. The issue is practicality; we have to take into consideration the need to prepare the site for the Pan Am sports program as well as accommodating the professional [soccer] team’s schedules… This is a great opportunity for six other markets in Canada to take advantage of a FIFA tournament. Plus those markets will have the opportunity to enhance their own infrastructure because of it.

If hosting duties in 2015 do not pan out for Toronto or other cities interested in hosting, they could still potentially be the site of U-20 WWC matches a year earlier.

Official host cities will be announced in late 2011 or early 2012 pending FIFA site inspections of stadium facilities and other local infrastructures this fall, including “the airport, transportation routes, accommodations and restaurants”. It’s widely reported that stadiums require a capacity of at least 20,000.

In support of the 2014 U-20 WWC and 2015 WWC, the federal government has pledged funding for up to $15 million in operating costs. While candidate host cities have slightly different budget structures depending on local funding, the official bid guidelines suggests $2.75 million to be provided by the province, the city to contribute $400,000 in cash and in-kind services along with the $25,000 bid fee, and for the province and city to spend a combined $100,000 for a local “World Cup cultural festival.”

Montopoli also highlighted the budget forecast: the two WWC are expected to break even; the operating budget for the U-20 WWC is between $15 and $20 million while the WWC will cost $40 million; other sources of funding include sponsorships, ticket sales and a FIFA subsidy for the youth tournament. Not included in the budget is $1 billion in infrastructure upgrades.

The Venues
Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, which famously hosted the 2002 U-19 WWC finals between Canada and the US in front of a sold out crowd, is the largest facility in the bid, seating 60,000. While the stadium requires a minimum of $100 million in renovations, the seating capacity makes it an ideal site for big games like the semi-finals and quarter finals. Commonwealth Stadium has also been noted as a potential championship game host.

Halifax requires a new stadium to be built. A $100,000 feasibility study is currently in progress.

The yet to be built stadium in Moncton Stadium, on the campus of the University of Moncton, features a natural grass surface. The stadium opened in 2010 to host the IAAF World Junior Championships in Athletics. While the venue has a permanent seating capacity of 10,000, there are plans to double that number. A preliminary schedule has the city hosting four teams for seven games; Shane Porter, Moncton’s director of festivals and special events, points out that as many as nine games could take place in the city.

Home of the NASL Montreal Impact (and the 2012 MLS expansion team), Saputo Stadium will undergo an estimated $22 million in upgrades, expanding from 13,000 seats to 20,000.

In Ottawa, Frank Clair Stadium, located in the “multi-purpose sports and entertainment facility” Lansdowne Park, requires major renovations, including installing stands on the south side. However, redevelopment of Lansdowne, which also features new condominium and retail space, is threatened by a lawsuit claiming that the project was illegally approved. The hearing has since been delayed until June 2011. With the WWC, Ottawa is projected to attract more than 20,000 visitors and to generate $12 million in economic activity.

The early budget by Vancouver city council indicates that $400,000 will be spent over four years in preparation for the WWC, while the city’s sport hosting budget will provide $100,000 each year from 2012 to 2015. The Whitecaps MLS franchise is among the local stakeholders reportedly involved in the bid process. BC Place Stadium, which features “FIFA-approved Polytan artificial turf”, appears to be another frontrunner in hosting the 2015 WWC final given its 55,000 seating capacity. The stadium is currently undergoing a $563 million renovation, which includes a new retractable roof.

Winnipeg’s new football stadium, located on the campus of the University of Manitoba, is set to be completed in the summer of 2012. Hector Vergara, Executive Director of the Manitoba Soccer Association, pointed out that the artificial turf will not be an issue, “For the Women’s World Cup, FIFA will allow two-star synthetic grass fields… For the senior men’s (World Cup), it’s a requirement that it has to be natural grass.”

2011 Women’s World Cup
The FIFA/OC Welcome Tour for Germany 2011
is in the midst of visiting countries participating in this summer’s WWC. On March 11, Ottawa was the tenth stop of the 15 country tour. OC President Steffi Jones also symbolically passed down the torch from the current WWC hosts to Canada, who will stage the tournament in 2015.

Canada and Germany will open the 2011 WWC June 26 at Olympic Stadium in Berlin. At the moment, over 60,000 of the 75,000 tickets have been sold for the opener, breaking the previous 44,500 attendance record for a women’s soccer match in Europe, which was set on April 22, 2009 when Germany played Brazil in Frankfurt. The tournament runs until July 17 with matches played in 9 stadiums across the country.

Canadian fans will be able to catch all the WWC games on CBC and Rogers Sportsnet. “For the first time in history every match of the tournament… will be broadcast live in Canada.” CBC will air all Canadian matches live, as well as 3 of 4 quarter-finals, a semi-final, the third place and championship games. Rogers Sportsnet will air live coverage of non-Canadian group matches, the other quarter-final match, and several encore broadcasts. Telelatino (TLN) will also be airing all 32 matches.

As reported back in September, AllWhiteKit got an exclusive tip about the possibility of two Canadian home friendlies before the WWC. With the USWNT hosting Japan May 14 and 18, along with another friendly on June 5 (possibly against Mexico), I wouldn’t be surprised if Canada was to play at least one of those teams.

Following the 2011 WWC
Canada will host a friendly against Germany in late 2011. The 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament for the 2012 London Olympics will also be played in Canada.

Finally, you need some of this in your life: Barbra Streisand- CanWNT dance

Things happened
World No. 6
FIFA released the latest Women’s World Rankings
on March 18. Canada reached a historic high of sixth place after earning 54 points and jumping 3 spots, more than any other nation. Since the last ranking in November 2010, Canada has compiled 8 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss. The top 3 remains unchanged with the USA, Germany and Brazil respectively, while Japan moved up 1 spot for a team high fourth place, overtaking Sweden in the process. France, Korea DPR, Norway and England round out the rest of the top 10.

China’s Four Nations Tournament
Canada kicked off the 2011 season competing in the Yongchuan Cup Four Nations Tournament in China, January 21-25. The opening match was a thrilling 3-2 comeback victory against China. After falling 2 goals behind in the first half, Melissa Tancredi scored in the 56′, and then assisted on Christine Sinclair’s equalizer in the 80′. During the dying moments of stoppage time, the pair combined again for Sinclair’s game winner in the 94′.

The CanWNT record 11 game unbeaten streak (9W, 2D) came to an end with a 2-1 loss to the USWNT. This was their first defeat since the September 15, 2010 5-0 drubbing by Germany. Lauren Cheney opened the scoring in the 54′ while Tancredi answered back just two minutes later. Lindsay Tarpley’s goal in the 71′ would prove to be the difference maker.

Sinclair notched her third goal of the tournament when she barrelled past the Swedish defence to take the closing game 1-0. The US took home the top prize, while Canada finished in second place, followed by China and Sweden.

Front page of the sports section
News of head coach Carolina Morace’s resignation following the 2011 WWC hit headlines on February 4. Days later, details of ongoing compensation disputes between the CanWNT and the Canadian Soccer Association came to light. In support of their coach, the team threatened to boycott international competition if the issues between Morace and the CSA weren’t resolved. While Morace’s tenure is yet to be sorted out, the boycott was eventually lifted on February 25 just days before to the Cyprus Cup.

Cyprus Cup champions (again)
With an all-time record of 13 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss at the tournament, the CanWNT claimed its third Cyprus Cup title. Staged from March 2-9, group play started off with a pair of 1-0 wins over Scotland and Italy with goals by Emily Zurrer and Jonelle Filigno respectively. Veterans Sinclair and Brittany Timko then lifted the team to a 2-0 victory over England.

Zurrer and Filigno would strike again during the championship match against the Netherlands. In the 20′, Filigno intercepted a defensive pass to put Canada ahead 1-0. The game was forced into extra time when the Dutch left back, Claudia van den Heiligenberg, tied things up in the 40′. Starting goalkeeper Erin McLeod was injured during a play in the 89′ and was immediately replaced by Stephanie Labbé. Just a few minutes into extra time, Matheson served a corner kick and Zurrer rebounded her own header. With her first two international goals, the 23 year-old central defender scored two game winners.

The Cyprus Cup also marked two other milestones for the CanWNT. The team debuted a 4-1-4-1, adding to their arsenal of other formations (4-4-2, 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1) that Morace has been experimenting with. They also wore their new Umbro kits for the first time. The jerseys will be available in stores June 1, so get ready to suit up, fans!