Tag Archives: Carolina Morace

Olympics – Matchday 3: What We Learned – Canada 2:2 Sweden

Canada scored only one goal (a consolation tally in their first game) at the World Cup last year, and their offense hadn’t shown too many signs of being respectable, yet alone explosive since John Herdman took over the helm from Carolina Morace last year. So the key at the Olympics was clearly scoring goals, their defense should be able to keep people in check if they could only find someone to help out Christine Sinclair.

Strike that, reverse it.

There are still many questions to be answered about the Canadians, but after a spirited 2-2 comeback against Sweden, one thing you can say for certain. It’s better than where they were last summer.

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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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Canada Brings Home Pan American Gold

Mexsport; CSA

That title has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? The Canadian Women’s National Team captured the top prize at the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico by defeating Brazil in dramatic fashion. Following a come-from-behind 1-1 draw in regulation and a scoreless overtime, Canada struck gold with penalty kicks, 4-3.

Twenty year-old Debora opened the scoring just 4 minutes into the match. The Brazilian striker headed towards three Canadian defenders and was given an excess of space to dribble up field before unleashing a top corner beauty from outside the box.

Canada was able to stay in the game thanks to a series of critical saves by Karina LeBlanc, especially late in regulation time when Brazil began peppering the Canadian net. Brazil outshot Canada 22-13, while Canada maintained 57% of possession.

As the clock ticked away, it appeared that Brazil was on its way to claiming another PanAm gold medal. However, like the 2011 Women’s World Cup quarter-finals against the USA, Brazil was undone late in the game by an equalizer off a header. This time it was at the mercy of Christine Sinclair being her usual clutch self. Canada won a corner kick in the 88th minute and Diana Matheson sent in a perfectly struck ball. Sinclair circled around goalkeeper Barbara to head it in with ease and forced the game into overtime.

But 30 minutes was not enough to break the deadlock between the teams, so the dreaded, heart wrenching penalty kicks were to settle the score.

Matheson converted the first Canadian PK with confidence, as did Francielle for Brazil. Upon the second round, Barbara was in a rage when she got a glove on Sinclair’s shot, but it wasn’t enough to keep it out of the net. Maurine and Melanie Booth were both successful in their respective shots from the mark. Canada took the lead following Brazil’s third PK when Grazielle placed her attempt up the middle for an easy stop by LeBlanc. Sophie Schmidt put Canada ahead once again and Ketlen answered back. It was 4-3 heading into the fifth set of PKs; things got momentarily tense for Canada while Brazil saw a glimmer of hope when Candace Chapman’s strike rattled the right sided post. The next kicker, Debora, had an opportunity to play hero for Brazil once again if she could tie up the results, but LeBlanc guessed the right direction to make her second PK save and secure first place.

Watch highlights of the final, Canada vs. Brazil, Brazil’s medal ceremony, Canada celebrating the win and the gold medal ceremony.

The win marks Canada’s first PanAm gold in women’s soccer, and John Herdman’s first tournament win since taking over the team in September. Canada previusly claimed fourth (1999), second (2003) and third place (2007) since the sport was included in the PanAm Games 12 years earlier. Brazil had won back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2007, and with the absence of any US team, it appeared to be theirs for the taking. Alas, it was yet another second place finish (see: the Women’s World Cup, Olympic Games and Torneio Internacional Cidade de São Paulo).

2015 will be a marquee year for the Canadian Women’s National Team with the Women’s World Cup being staged across Canada from June 26-July 17 and PanAm Toronto July 10-26. The overlap makes it highly unlikely that the senior team will be able to defend their title as the reigning PanAm Women’s Soccer champions. But with that aside, the build up in the next 4 years will be exciting times for the sport in the country. Whether it’ll be about seeking World Cup redemption or potentially instilling confidence in our youth team to represent us at the PanAms in place of the full squad, it’s all taking place in Canada. There’s no better feeling than playing (and winning) on home soil, right?

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Morace Resigns as Canadian Head Coach Following Disastrous WWC

Good news? Bad news?
Head coach Carolina Morace and her staff, including assistant coach and former Canadian national team midfielder Andrea Neil, resigned Wednesday, July 20 during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 debriefing and analysis meeting with the Canadian Soccer Association and other stakeholders.

Under Morace’s guidance since February 2009, Canada rose to their highest ever ranking of 6th in the world, all while claiming first place trophies at the Cyprus Cup (twice), the Torneio Internacional Cidade de São Paulo (Four Nations Tournament in Brazil) and the 2010 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and defeating quality opponents like England and Sweden.

Ben Rycroft of It’s Called Football points out that between January 1, 2009 and June 25, 2011, Canada played more matches than Brazil, France, Germany, Japan and USA. Additionally, the team spent 114 days of 2011 training overseas in various camps.

Based on these results and preparations, Big Red headed into the WWC seemingly poised to capture its best ever results, even medal.

As it turned out, the team gravely fell short of expectations, losing all three games and failing to advance past the group stage for the fourth time. Canada’s best result at the WWC was in 2003 when they upset China in the quarter-finals and eventually placed fourth overall.

After a closely fought 2-1 match against Germany that featured a stunning free kick goal by Christine Sinclair that snapped the host’s 622-minute WWC shutout streak, Canada lost its composure and was hounded by France 4-0, and fell 1-0 to Nigeria. Canada finished last in the 16-team tournament and registered three shots on goal.

Since the loss to France, murmurings began to circulate of Morace potentially stepping down, but she bluntly stated, “Yes, I want to continue,” following the match against Nigeria.

All else indicated that Morace would remain as head coach. The Globe and Mail‘s Stephen Brunt said of the dynamic between Morace and the CSA, “This is a very tense relationship. It’s a bad marriage at this point, or at least a very fractious marriage, but it is going to continue.”

With Morace’s sudden resignation last week, CSA General Secretary Peter Montopoli told The Canadian Press, “Yes, I would say we were surprised.”

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Women’s World Cup – Things We Learned: Day 10

The thing about a tournament in soccer (or in any sport for that matter) is that it really doesn’t matter how well or how poorly you played in your last game.

The goal is simple and clear: advance to the next round. There are no style points, and – unlike in a championship that is won over the long haul – dropped points are erased when you get to the next round.

And so those first two games where Germany struggled and France looked unbeatable, they have been quickly forgotten. While England at times had trouble getting out of their own way, and Japan was doing their best Barcelona impersonation, that has been pushed past the back burner all the way off the stage.

But it’s also a warning that things could flip the other way just as easily. I picked France to go the finals because I thought they could beat England, and maybe catch Brazil off guard. I still like those picks, despite what happened today.

I also picked Germany over the United States in the semifinals, and I’d like to say Germany just had a good day today, but I’m not so sure.

Here are the 10 things we learned in Day 10 of Germany 2011.

1) That was the Japan we thought we might see in the World Cup

My worst pick appears to be not having Japan go through, and the reasons were what you saw today. They were still able to move the ball, and had the territorial advantage, but there was no end product. There wasn’t really much that make you think there was going to be an end product.

2) Hello, Ellen White

You hear things like the women’s Wayne Rooney and one of the next big stars on the women’s scene, and you just didn’t see it in the first two games (of course, in the opening draw against Mexico, she didn’t even start, which looks a tad inexplicable now). But, even though the first goal had a hint of shoddy goalkeeping, Smith was dangerous and a complete handful for the Japanese defense for most of the match, one they didn’t have in their first two games. Karney Carney wasn’t too bad, either, including the assist on the second goal.

3) A little redemption for Karen Bardsley, too

Those of us that have watched WPS at least a little have seen that Bardsley has the ability (including physically, obviously) to be one of the best goalkeepers in the world, but the goal from distance against Mexico could not have helped her confidence. But she was tremendous today, possibly the best performance by a keeper at the World Cup.

4) It doesn’t mean much going forward, though

As I said in the opening, it is a great accomplishment to win the group, and I’m sure they’re happy to avoid Germany in the quarterfinals, but I think it’s still a toss-up at best in the England-France match (and that should be a good one). Obviously, just on today’s performances, maybe England was better, but as we’ve seen already, things change from game to game.

5) Mexico can leave with their heads held very high

It’s tough to get respect when you play in CONCACAF, and you’re not named the United States or Canada, but Mexico showed they were well deserving of their berth in this World Cup. They’ll be upset at giving up two goals in the closing minutes to New Zealand, but they may make things fairly difficult for the two big powers in the next few years, although they’ll likely have to do it without Maribel Dominguez, who has had a fine career. How they wish she was a decade younger.

6) Simone Laudehr might be the best player in the world not named Marta

She had probably been Germany’s best player in their first two matches, but she was on a different level today. She sets up as a holding midfielder, but when she can run box-to-box as she did a little in the first match, and did a lot of today, she just adds so much to the German attack. However ….

7) Laudehr (and a bunch of others) probably shouldn’t have been on the field today

I could be completely off here, but is there that much incentive to winning this group to play anyone with a yellow card? But both teams did.
Take it one step further, why would you play anyone you thought you were going to need in the quarterfinals? It’s tough to predict red cards, certainly, but now France has to face the quarterfinals without their starting goalkeeper (Berange Sapowicz).
(Was it a red card? It looked like there was a covering defender coming behind Sapowicz, and she might not have been the last man. Of course, there is no such things as “last man” in the FIFA Laws, it says “denying a goal scoring opportunity”, and I guess that was certainly a goal scoring opportunity just six yards from goal and the net virtually empty.)
I’ve talked about the tight schedule, and how many games these teams have had to play in a short period of time, but both these teams had most of their starters out on the field for 90 minutes today.
Obviously, the France attack is completely different with Marie-Laure Delie on the field, but would a full week’s rest have set her up for a big quarterfinal against England? Some players were rested, so why not rest everyone you can?

8 ) It might be a sad ending to the World Cup career of Birgit Prinz

I made a slight mistake in how I worded saying that Marta had caught Michelle Akers with 12 World Cup goals. Obviously, Prinz is still the overall leader with 14.
But that may be it. After today’s game, you can’t see Prinz starting the quarterfinal. And if they win that, she probably won’t start the rest of the way (and if they lose, they’re out and done). The only way you can see her getting back on the field is if Germany trails and needs a goal in the late stages of a match. It might not happen.

9) Nigeria deserves some credit for this World Cup, too

Off the field controversy notwithstanding (and maybe the second half against Germany), Nigeria was organized, and really not that far off against the toughest group the World Cup had to offer, a long way from where they were four years ago, and even longer from a decade ago when African teams simply couldn’t compete.
Their win today was no fluke, they were the better team against Canada, and Rita Chekwulu would make my Best XI from this World Cup. She was outstanding in her holding midfield role, and the biggest reason why they only conceded twice in the tournament.
If they can keep their act together, they might be the first African team to get out of the group stages in four years. Canada hopes it isn’t against them.

10) It was a sad ending for Christine Sinclair and Canada, but…

Today’s game reminded me a lot of the United States’ final game against Iran in the 1998 Men’s World Cup. The U.S. was out, they had little motivation, and would just outplayed by a hungrier Iran side. Obviously, there will be some fingers pointed at Carolina Morace.
Fittingly, Nigeria’s winner came right after a power outage delayed action in the match for 11 minutes, as if anything else could go wrong at this World Cup. We can only hope Sinclair can be in decent form when Canada hosts this tournament in four years. That U.S. team that was embarrassed in 1998 came back to have their best ever World Cup performance four years later, reaching the quarterfinals, and they weren’t even at home.

Bonus:

Zonal marking is stupid

I don’t always agree with the commentators on ESPN, but I think they’re right here. I don’t get it, I really don’t.

Double bonus:

Belief is the best of things

This is not commentary, but the summer soccer camp circuit started this week. A little 8-year old girl was sporting the old gold U.S. women’s jersey, and I asked her if she knew why there were two stars on the back collar.
She didn’t know, but her 10-year old sister butted into the conversation:
“That’s how many World Cups the United States has won. But they’ll have one more in a couple of weeks.”
Hopefully, the team has the same level of confidence.

Women’s World Cup – Things We Learned: Day 5

It was the best of the women’s game, but it was also the worst of the women’s game Thursday at the Women’s World Cup.

We saw France pick what appeared to be a more athletic Canada side apart with better ball control, more precise passing, looking like the “Barcelona of the women’s game” (although, as a few people have pointed out, just because a team can string four passes together doesn’t mean they should be compared to Barcelona), in an absolute rout.

Then we saw Nigeria, with a great deal of success, try to bully their way to a result against heavily favored Germany, in a match that will be remembered more for the number of injuries and fouls (and a little bit of curious officiating) than for the actual play on the field.

But you have to take the good with the bad when you cover a tournament, and I’ll try to make sense of the Thursday proceedings here.

And so, without further ado, here are the 10 things we learned in Day 5 of Germany 2011.

1) France’s win could reverberate further than just today

We’ve heard rumblings that the game is gettign more technical, that the days of just physically beating an opponent into submission (see: Norway in the 90s) were dead. I’ve read from Anson Dorrance and Even Pellerud on how the women’s game may never really evolve that way, and that athleticism will always win out (Dorrance has changed his tune slightly, Pellerud – who admittedly has had great success – really hasn’t).
For the first 15 minutes, Canada was buzzing, but once France settled down, they did circles around the Canadians, they were better passers, better dribblers, just played the game better, and there was little Canada could do to stop it.
Can France go all the way this way? Possibly, but…

2) Maybe the physicality thing is not quite dead yet

I’m torn with Nigeria’s performance against Germany. Part of me wants to congratulate their organization, and the fact that they’ve come a long way since an 8-0 drubbing in a friendly just six months ago. They battled, clawed, and made things difficult for Germany at every turn.
However, saying it was an ugly match would be generous. It set a Women’s World Cup record for fouls, saw more bodies on the ground than in the previous nine games combined seemingly, and saw very few movements that resembled anything beautiful like France was putting together.
The age old question, of course, is what are the Nigerians to do? Take a beating and smile? They did what they thought was best to try to win the game. It’s up to Germany (and the officials) to break them down. And today they couldn’t.

3) Scorelines don’t necessarily dictate how one-sided a game was

No one is debating that Canada deserved to get a result or anything, but if Canada could have stuck one in (and they were physically dominating the French in the first 15 minutes), who knows? Diana Matheson had a great chance in the 15th minute, it went begging, France was on the board 10 minutes later, and they never looked back from there. But if that first one goes in.

4) Ironically, France’s first goal came off a strong tackle

Canadian holding midfielder Sophie Schmidt was off to a good start in the match, took a touch in the 24th minute and thought she had time to clear. But her counterpart Elise Bussaglia came in with a hard (and clean) tackle, played a quick 1-2 with Louisa Necib, and Gaetane Thiney was at the far post to put France in front, and – as I stated before – it was all France after that.
Even Thiney’s second goal could be attributed to pressure. This time Emily Zurrer thought she had more time, Marie-Laure Delie got in the way of the clearance, and Thiney’s blast from outside the box was perfect. But it doesn’t happen without the pressure.

5) France looked much more comfortable with a formation tweak

Bruno Bini was in a little bit of a bind, as he pulled captain Sandrine Soubeyrand at halftime of the opener against Nigeria in his 4-5-1 to get more on the attack, moving Elise Bussaglia – whom he started wide – into that role.
Many thought he would make that switch permanent against Canada, but he wanted his veteran captain on the field, so he went to a 4-2-3-1 with Bussaglia and Soubeyrand holding. It allowed Louisa Necib to play in front of them and have more of the ball, and it worked very well after the first few minutes.
Whether France will have that same kind of success against Germany, or in the knockout stages, remains to be seen.

6) It was a sad end for Christine Sinclair and Canada

Under Pellerud eight years ago, Canada actually had the lead in the semifinals against Sweden before two late goals killed their dream. But the goal scorer in that game typifies Canada, Kara Lang was 16 when she scored. Eight years later, Lang is retired due to persistent knee injuries. Christine Latham, who also had some big goals in that tournament having just turned 22, but isn’t around anymore, either. Brittany Timko and Diana Matheson, both teenage starters during that World Cup, never developed into stars.
Which leaves Christine Sinclair, who should be around at 32 when Canada hosts the World Cup in 2015, but the current crop doesn’t look as promising as 2003.
But four years is a long time, Canada did win the Gold Cup in the winter, and Jonelle Filigno (20) looks like a potential star, so we’ll see.

7) You can bash Nigeria, but Germany wasn’t good today, either

The ball just moved too slow, and you wonder how much offense Silvia Neid is going to be able to generate with Kim Kulig and Simone Laudehr both as holding midfielers (although, as she did on the goal, Laudehr did get forward a bit today). Birgit Prinz was not a happy camper, and Neid has to make a tough decision and soon, to cut her loose (sit her) and go with Alexandra Popp, or stick with her. A very, very tough one indeed.

8) I’m not sure what we wanted Nigeria to do

Ngozi Uche (and her German staff) know if they come out and play a wide open game, they may get run over. So they turn to the style which they played today. It was borderline hideous and fairly gruesome to watch. But it gave them the best chance to win, didn’t it? That is the object, no?
Holding midfielder Rita Chekwelu has had two very good games and it’s a shame to see her wrapped up with the rest. But, unless someone changes the rules, that’s the way it’s going to go, we saw plenty of it at the Men’s World Cup last summer as well.

9) It may not be worth it to win Group A

It may be slightly embarrassing for the Germans not to win their group when they’re hosting the World Cup, but I take a long look at sitting some people and getting them a rest if I’m Neid and Bini in the last group match.
The likely road to the Cup for the winners of Group A: England, United States, Brazil.
The likely road for second place: Japan, Brazil, United States.
I don’t see enough difference to make this game huge, especially because you’re playing so many games in a short period, some of them in intense heat. But we’ll see.

10) Refs need to show cards sometimes

Cha Sung Mi, the South Korean referee of the second game today, never really had control of the game, and – despite the fact that people decry them as not having control (irony) – probably needed to show some cards early in the match.
When you do that, the Nigerians have to think twice about hacking people because they may get sent off.

Bonus:

French women better than men

The last time the French men won a World Cup game by three goals or more? July 12, 1998. Of course, that happened to be in a World Cup final and over Brazil, too, but hey, one step at a time.

20 Questions with Carmelina Moscato

Courtesy of Claudio Pasquazi; Canadian Soccer Association

For Carmelina Moscato, a midfielder/defender on the Canadian Women’s National Team, the opportunity to represent her country faded in 2006. Skip ahead a few years later and Moscato is now preparing for her second FIFA Women’s World Cup. She recently took the time to chat with All White Kit about her return to the National Team, the impact that Carolina Morace and staff have had on the team’s success, fond memories, her plans for the future and much more.

All White Kit: How do you feel the team’s preparations for the 2011 Women’s World Cup are coming along?
Carmelina Moscato: I don’t think our preparations could’ve been any better leading into this year’s World Cup. The amount of time and complete concentration put in has really been incredible by the players and staff alike. We have [two] days left and just like we’ve made every day count I know these last few are just as crucial.

The best part about our preparation is that there has been so much time put into intelligent progressions both tactically and physically. It’s come together perfectly and we are all excited to see how we do at the World Cup!

AWK: The WWC roster was recently revealed. What’s that feeling of anticipation like before any roster is announced?
CM: We’ve become a family here, so of course hearing the roster, alternates and cuts was never going to be easy. No matter who is officially on the roster, we have benefited from everyone’s energy and time here for our World Cup goals. You wish it was more than 21, but having said that we are completely happy and confident with the roster we have! We all believe in each other.

AWK: You competed at the 2002 U-19 Women’s World Cup in Canada and may represent your country at another WWC on home soil in 2015. Talk about the opportunity to play at home for such important tournaments.
CM: Regardless of if I play in the 2015 World Cup at home or not (it’s hard to say right now) I hope to be involved in some capacity. It’s actually pretty hard to think beyond one competition at a time.

In general, the opportunity for the best women’s soccer players to come to Canada is special, powerful and will only bring the game to another level. I think we’ve needed something like this for a long time and I know I don’t speak for just myself when I say we feel fortunate to host.
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20 Questions with Rhian Wilkinson

Courtesy of Claudio Pasquazi, Canadian Soccer Association

In just 10 days, the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 will kick off when hosts Germany face off against Canada. The Canadian Women’s National Team’s right back, Rhian Wilkinson, was kind enough to take time from her busy training schedule in Rome, Italy to share her thoughts on the team’s preparations for the tournament, her transition from being a forward to a defender, and some memorable moments both on and off the field.

All White Kit: In the lead up to the Women’s World Cup, the CanWNT has been in camp since late March and you’ve played several friendlies. How’s the team feeling about the preparations so far?
Rhian Wilkinson: We have played in a number of preparation matches, and I think these have done a good job in letting us try out new tactics and combinations. Of course, the games allow us to pump ourselves up as well and we need this to begin peaking for our first game of the tournament. As a team we are feeling good about our preparations. With only two more lead up games to go [Editor’s note: Canada defeated Hungary 1-0 and North Korea 2-0], we are almost there.

AWK: What will be key for Canada when facing your Group A opponents (Germany, France and Nigeria)?
RW: I know it is a cliché, but we have to take each match as one game at a time. We cannot get caught up in looking any further than our next game, our next opponent. We plan on winning each game we are involved in and this is the attitude we will bring into the World Cup tournament.

AWK: Germany 2011 will be your third WWC. What’s your mindset been like for each tournament?
RW: In the 2003 World Cup, I had only just made the Canada squad and I could not believe I was actually there, playing for my country. I was a little overawed by it all, but the team did extremely well and we punched way above our weight, finishing 4th overall in the tournament. The whole event was an amazing experience and the feeling of elation was something I will never forget.

In the 2007 World Cup tournament, we had been experiencing a rough year. We had lost our form and we struggled against most opponents. Not much changed in the World Cup tournament; we did not do well. I left the 2007 tournament suffering from one of my lowest athletic mindsets. Like many on the team, I found it hard to find motivation and to perform consistently. This was especially so as the 2007 World Cup tournament came right after a poor performance at the Pan Am Games.

I enter into the 2011 World Cup tournament with memories of these two events in my mind. But, I have found new inspiration in my teammates, in the coaching staff, in myself, and even in the support and attention the team is now receiving. I go into this next World Cup with an understanding that we really have to experience the moment. We cannot allow the tournament to become so big that it overwhelms us. We know how to win and we have found the means to win. As a squad, we have great experience and mutual support, and we will not underestimate the importance of the event. We are looking forward to an international competition, an amazing event and I expect Canada, including me, will enjoy the ride all the way to the top of the podium.

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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!

Disputes between the CanWNT & the CSA

On February 4, news broke of Carolina Morace‘s intentions to resign from her duties with the Canadian Women’s National Team upon the conclusion of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany, which takes place from June 26 to July 17.

19 days into the whirlwind situation and there has yet to be a resolution. Over the course of this period, a lot has been published on the topic (headlines conveniently assembled by Jenna Pel) and a number of related debates have taken place on various discussion boards, podcasts, comments sections, and the like. Let’s take a look at what’s known thus far and some of the major talking points.

What’s Frustrating Morace?

In the leaked internal memo sent to media, Morace vaguely revealed that, “The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) has a strategy to achieve their goals that differs from my strategy”. Further reports later divulged that friction between Morace and the CSA were born out of disagreements over budgetary control.

Morace isn’t seeking budget increases; rather, she wants more autonomy in using available funds when and where she deems appropriate. For instance, “when South Africa withdrew from a second friendly, Morace wasn’t able to schedule another game, or use the money elsewhere, as it was redistributed by the CSA.” CanWNT midfielder Carmelina Moscato told Anna Maria Tremonti of CBC Radio’s “The Current”:

“A lot of the details aren’t disclosed, obviously for contract reasons in terms of respecting her contract. But, as far as we know, it has to do with budget, having a little more control over the money that is available to her, being allowed to, basically, spend at her discretion, and ultimately make decisions that are for the betterment of the team without having the CSA or the organizing body resisting her requests.” [1:48]

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