To conclude our coverage of Canada’s September 30th friendly against China, here are some pictures from that night. Hope everyone enjoyed the reports and interviews! Keep coming back to AWK for the latest news and discussions on women’s soccer from around the globe. Thanks for reading!
Do you really need me to provide context? Maybe I’ll just leave it at this: Christine Sinclair is the Canadian poster child for “awesome”!
As a Portland Pilot, Sinclair scored 110 goals and guided the team to 2 national championships, all while reaping back-to-back M.A.C. Hermann Trophy awards and breaking Brandi Chastain’s NCAA record by scoring in 17 consecutive games. She also led the Canadian U-19 Women’s World Cup team to a second place finish at the inaugural tournament in 2002, scoring 10 goals to secure the Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards as the tournament’s top scorer and MVP respectively. Sinclair was an integral part of FC Gold Pride’s tandem of unstoppable offensive threats, scoring 10 goals and providing 9 assists en route to winning the 2010 WPS Championship and Regular Season Title. Since debuting on the Senior squad in 2000 as a 16 year-old, and subsequent World Cup and Olympic appearances, Sinclair has scored 102 goals. Perhaps it’s fitting that the very team she debuted (and lost) against 10 years ago, China, was the same team she blasted a goal past during Canada’s 3-1 victory last Thursday.
All White Kit: Carolina has had you guys lining up in a 4-3-3, which is a bit different from what you used to play. How has that changed your role as a striker? Is it fluid movement among the 3 of you?
Christine Sinclair: Yeah, we’re rotating all over the place up top. She wants movement, she wants creativity and unpredictability, whereas before, under Even, it was very rigid and we were in our set positions. This is a lot more interesting game to play under Carolina.
AWK: That sort of style has obviously brought you guys a lot of success over at Gold Pride. Congratulations about that. Can you talk a little bit about those two goals, the final, celebrating and all that?
CS: Thank you very much! Wow, it was a long day. It was the perfect end to a great season for FC Gold Pride. We completely dominated the league and I think it would have been so unfair had we not won that championship. To score two goals is obviously very nice, but we had so many attacking options on our team. Our motto is that they can’t stop us all. And they couldn’t in the final. Continue reading
If you’re looking to name a hard working midfielder then Diana Matheson has to be mentioned. The 4-time first-team All-Ivy honouree led the Princeton University Tigers (2004-2007) with 23 goals and 26 assists. Since debuting for the Senior National Team as an 18 year-old in 2003, Matheson has played every minute in 91 of her 101 caps. Most recently, she displayed her tenacity in Canada’s September 30 friendly against China while patrolling the midfield and playing great one-touch soccer with her teammates. Matheson started the match with a bang, scoring the opening goal after making a great run from the centre circle to the 18-yard box. Perhaps AWK likes the idea of Western New York signing her?
All White Kit: You, Kara Lang and the rest of the team recently hosted a clinic with the Oakville Soccer Club to help raise money for the Haitian National Team. Talk a little bit about that, and your experience playing for OSC as you were growing up.
Diana Matheson: I had a great experience growing up with OSC. It’s a huge soccer club and they do a great job with women’s soccer. Kara grew up there as well, so they do okay in producing soccer players I think ;). The clinic went really well. I think we basically wanted to try and connect with girls’ soccer players out there. With Kara and I being from Oakville and they being such a good club, we thought of them first. The club did a great job organizing the event, and Carmelina Moscato and Kara organized it on our end and the drills and everything. We did 2 hours of coaching with the girls and it was a great turnout. I think we had about 300 people from age 4 to age 51. We did signings afterward and we met everyone. It was a great experience for us.
AWK: Did you and Kara grow up playing against each other?
DM: No, Kara’s 2 years younger so we never played against each other.
AWK: You had a foot injury earlier this year. Are you all healed up and ready to go? Continue reading
Since taking over as the head coach of the Canadian Senior and U-20 Women’s National Teams in February 2009, Morace has always made it clear that her intentions are to implement a possession-oriented style that wouldn’t hinder the creativity of her players. A highly successful striker herself, Morace scored 105 goals in 153 appearances for the Italian National Team and absolutely dominated Italy’s Femminile Serie A with 550 goals over her 20 year club career before moving on to coach at the club and National levels. After seeing the promising performance that Canada had against China last Thursday, there’s no doubt that the new training drills and game tactics have reinvigorated Morace’s team.
All White Kit: You played China this past April and since then they’ve made a coaching change. You played them again in a scrimmage on Sunday [September 26]. Did you notice any differences in how the Chinese team plays?
Carolina Morace: I know that the coach has changed since China didn’t qualify for the Women’s World Cup. I think the team was also good when we played them in China and we lost 2-0. We played against them, also, two days ago. The team is very organized and many players are fast and good players. The Chinese team is good.
AWK: The team’s been playing a 4-3-3 since the beginning of 2010. Is that the formation we should expect against China or even during the CONCACAF Qualifiers?
CM: During our previous game [the closed door scrimmage], we played a 4-4-2. I think that we can play both. I have to decide. It’s based on two different things: I have to decide which players are good or are fit and then I’ll decide afterward.
Dubbed as the “next Sun Wen”, the Chongqing native was a part of the Chinese team that won 2nd place at the 2004 U-19 Women’s World Cup in Thailand, defeating Nigeria, Italy, Kara Lang’s Canada, and Marta’s Brazil in the process. Xu’s soccer journey began after being inspired by the Chinese National Team’s silver medal wining performance at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. The 24 year-old forward debuted on the Senior squad in December 2007, and wore the captain’s armband for the first time during China’s September 30 friendly against Canada.
Xu was kind enough to have a quick chat with All White Kit following the team’s practice that ended at 8pm on a cold night before game day. She ended up being the last person to board the team bus, so I didn’t want to bother her with a whole list of questions and wasn’t able to ask about the game.
All White Kit: How would you compare your previous coach to your current coach?
Xu Yuan: With the previous coach [Shang Ruihua], each training session was really long. Our current coach [Li Xiaopeng] understands us very well as a team. He doesn’t normally coach women’s teams, so he treats us in the same type of way that he’d treat a men’s team.
AWK: Can you describe a typical day of training with the National Team?
XY: I’d say the daily training sessions are different each time. Sometimes we practice our defence and sometimes we practice our attack. Honestly, each day’s training is done for the purpose of becoming more competitive for future games.
AWK: What’s your favourite soccer memory? And who’s your soccer idol?
XY: It’d be the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It was my first Olympic experience and I scored a goal during our first match [against Sweden 6 minutes into the game, nonetheless]. And my favourite soccer player is Brazil’s Ronaldo.
A special thanks to Elaine Sun for making this interview possible! And a shout out to my Mom for speaking 5 languages/dialects and helping to translate this interview.
On September 30 at BMO Field, Canada’s 3-1 victory over China was a promising display of what Carolina Morace’s team is capable of executing. The long ball game and rigid player roles of Even Pellerud and Canada’s past were replaced by a free flowing squad who held possession with quick passes and attacked aggressively.
Lining up in a 4-3-3, Canada didn’t hesitate to test China’s backline right from the get-go. Just 6 seconds into the game, forward Josée Bélanger got into the final third to set up Kaylyn Kyle, but Kyle’s chip bounced harmlessly into the box.
In the 2nd minute of play, Bélanger hustled down the right wing again and won a corner kick after the ball deflected off a Chinese defender. Diana Matheson served a high arching ball into the box that Christine Sinclair headed on target, but was cleared out of bounds by #2 Liu Huana on the near post.
Canada’s second ensuing corner kick turned into China’s advantage instead. After pinging around in the air, a heavy touch by Marie-Even Nault allowed China to play a 20 yard through ball to an unmarked #8 Xu Yuan for a breakaway opportunity. The Canadians were caught playing a high defensive line and could only retreat as they watched Karina LeBlanc tip the shot over the bar.
China’s first corner kick of the match in the 4th minute was played short, and Bélanger was there to intercept. It was difficult for China to gain any sort of rhythm with Canada constantly stepping in to challenge their passes. Kyle was a bully in the midfield and had a great sequence early on in the game with about 4 or 5 interceptions in the span of a minute, all on different parts of the pitch.
The Canadian defence had their fair share of interceptions as well. At one point, Candace Chapman stepped high in the midfield to cut off a through ball, and Carmelina Moscato‘s pass sparked an attack with Matheson and Melissa Tancredi playing one touch passes to one another to advance the ball while making good use of space. This was one of Canada’s many attacks throughout the night that displayed the possession-oriented and quick passing style that Morace has been trying to implement since taking over the team in early 2009.
(Scroll to the bottom of this post for some exciting news)
Canada is facing China tonight at BMO Field in Toronto. The match kicks off at 7:30 EST/4:30 PST and will be broadcasted live on Rogers Sportsnet East and Rogers Sportsnet Ontario.
This is a rare opportunity to play at home. Prior to 2008, Canada didn’t play a home game in over two years. Since then, one home game a year has been the norm, all of which have been held at BMO Field.
China has brought a really young team to face Canada and the US. 11 of the 23 players are from the 2006 U-20 WWC Russia and/or Thailand 2004, winning silver at both tournaments. That means that about half of the team was born on or after 1985. (I’ll give you better stats in another post). Veterans Bi Yan and Han Duan did not make the trip due to injuries.
The team is being revamped after a disappointing result at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup that meant China failed to qualify for the Women’s World Cup for the first time since the tournament’s inception in 1991. Shang Ruihua took over as the head coach in 2008 after the team’s rocky relationship with Frenchwoman Elisabeth Loisel (2007-2008). Shang was replaced by Li Xiaopeng (not that Captain Obvious should butt in, but it’s the footballer Li Xiaopeng and not the gymnast, although that would be interesting =)) earlier this summer. Li is a former defensive midfielder for the Chinese National Team, and made a rare World Cup appearance in 2002.
Canada has been training since camp opened in Rome on August 25. After winning two exhibition games against Italian club teams in early September, Canada lost 5-0 to Germany in front of a raucous crowd of 20,431 in Dresden. The team relocated to Alliston, Ontario for more training on September 21 and played a closed door scrimmage on the 26th against China with a 1-1 result.
Following tonight’s match, China will face the USWNT in Kennesaw, Georgia October 2 at Kennesaw State University Soccer Stadium and in Chester, Pennsylvania October 6 at PPL Park. China is preparing for the 16th Annual Asian Games in November and is targeting a gold medal finish. Canada will return to training after a short break. Camp will resume at Nottawasaga Inn & Resort in Alliston, Ontario on October 4 and go until the 14. They will have open training sessions, so both fans and media are invited to attend. Continue reading
As the Canadians prepare for the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifiers, the team will train together for approximately 7 straight weeks. Here is a detailed look at their upcoming plans, including a home game at BMO Field on September 30 against China.
The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) recently announced details of the Women’s National Team’s (World No. 13) plans as they prepare for the upcoming CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifiers in hopes of advancing to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 in Germany.
The last time the Canadian squad was together, a 10 day camp was held in Gaithersburg, Maryland May 2010. Canada played an exhibition game against the Washington Freedom of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) on May 23 at the Maryland SoccerPlex, which resulted in a 3-3 tie. Midfielder Kelly Parker led the team with 3 assists, setting up goals by Christina Julien, Christine Sinclair, and Jodi-Ann Robinson. Training continued as the team relocated to Norway for a week-long camp in early June, playing an international friendly against the World No. 6 at Fart Stadium in Hamar that ended in a 1-1 draw. Josée Bélanger scored her first goal and had her second cap at the Senior level that day.
Most recently, head coach Carolina Morace called up 24 players to train in Rome, Italy from August 25 to September 12. The team will have two practice sessions a day, and will play exhibition games against Femminile Serie A club teams Roma and Lazio September 1 and 8 respectively. Morace played for Lazio from 1984-85 and 1986-89. Lazio is also the former club of Sky Blue FC striker and Leslie Osborne collarbone breaker Patrizia Panico (1998-2003).
Notably absent from the roster are players with WPS commitments. Candace Chapman, Karina LeBlanc, Kelly Parker, and Christine Sinclair, presuming they are called-up and released, are expected to join the rest of the national team in Germany when they prepare to play an international friendly against the World No. 2 in Dresden, Germany on September 15. This will be an ideal opportunity for the Canadians to get a feel for the type of atmosphere to expect if they play in next year’s Women’s World Cup. The match will take place at Rudolf Harbig Stadion, one of the venues set to host during the 2011 WWC, including three group games in addition to a quarter-final match. The 22, 933 capacity stadium is home to 3rd Liga club team Dynamo Dresden.