Tag Archives: International Friendlies

Three Spring Friendlies Announced for Canada, New Umbro Kits & U-20 WWC Berth

Photo by the Canadian Soccer Association

International Friendlies

Three friendlies, including one at home, have been announced as a part of the Canadian Women’s National Team’s preparations for the 2012 London Olympics.

Canada will face Brazil on neutral grounds March 24 in Foxborough, Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium, home of MLS’ New England Revolution. The venue seems like an improbable choice given the cost and the Revolution’s 4PM ET home opener against the Portland Timbers, but all has been confirmed.

Since July 2008, Canada and Brazil have drawn in their last five matches. On two of those occasions Canada claimed championship titles, first, as goal differentials at the 2010 Torneio Internacional Cidade de São Paulo were in Canada’s favour. It was this memorable stunner by Christine Sinclair that sealed the title. Then, at the 2011 Pan American Games, a 1-1 tie in regulation was finally settled in penalty kicks with Canada taking it 4-3.

Canada and Sweden will then meet March 31 at 2PM local time in Malmö, Sweden. This past week, Sweden finished in fourth place at the Algarve Cup in Portugal following a 4-0 loss to the USA. In Canada and Sweden’s most recent matches against one another, each side has won three. Their latest encounter was a 2-1 friendly win by Canada November 22, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Canada will host China May 30 at Stade Moncton 2010 Stadium in Moncton, New Brunswick, which is a potential host venue for the 2014 FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Canada/China friendly will kick-off at 8PM local time, 9PM ET. Ticket sales and other details will be announced in early April.

The match against China marks the first home friendly since September 30, 2010 when Canada posted a 3-1 victory at BMO Field in Toronto, which was also against China. Canada most recently played six competitive matches at home in Vancouver, British Columbia during the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifiers.

As noted by the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA), it just so happens that all three opponents in this series of friendlies have been runner-ups at the FIFA Women’s World Cup (China – 1999, Sweden – 2003 and Brazil – 2007).

In between friendlies, a portion of the CanWNT will be in residency camp for two weeks in Vancouver from April 13 to 27. Players who have signed with clubs will remain with their respective teams while only unattached players will be in camp.

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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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USWNT vs. CanWNT: Wambach & Morgan were Left Unmarked and Made Canada Pay

The United States concluded their post-2011 Women’s World Cup Celebration Series tour against Canada with a 3-0 victory. Both friendlies were played in front of incredible crowds; Megan Rapinoe joked earlier in the week that the fanfare has been like if the WWC runner-ups had actually won the title.  18,570 strong serenaded the team with chants of “U-S-A” at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Oregon, as did 16,191 at the first friendly in Kansas City, Kansas last Saturday (1-1 draw).

Similar to the previous game, the USWNT lined up in a new 4-2-3-1. As promised, Pia Sundhage featured all 21 players over the two friendlies, a full strength roster from the WWC. Notably in the starting XI, the experiment with Amy Rodriguez as a left winger continued, while Shannon Boxx and Lori Lindsey replaced Carli Lloyd and Lauren Cheney as holding midfielders. Stephanie Cox stepped in for Amy LePeilbet and Becky Sauerbrunn slide over from her usual role in central defence to the outside right.

John Herdman, who is playing without two of Canada’s regular starters Christine Sinclair and Candace Chapman, switched from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 and made two changes to his starting lineup from the first friendly, with Lexi Marton in place of Emily Zurrer and Karina LeBlanc in goal for Erin McLeod. Herdman’s fourth ‘keeper, 22 year-old Justine Bernier, was the only one of the 22 player roster not to see playing time. New talent was introduced as three players received their first senior caps during the two friendlies.

The US peppered the Canadian 18-yard box with dangerous crosses and well paced shots throughout the match, but were upstaged by great Canadian goalkeeping from Karina LeBlanc in the first half and Stephanie Labbé in the second.

Canada was kept deep on defensive duties for much of the game, but Melissa Tancredi got an early opportunity when she fended off a couple defenders before sending the ball over the net.

LeBlanc made her first of several great saves in the 17th minute. Abby Wambach started the play when she blocked Sophie Schmidt’s cross, which fell to Rapinoe. She was able to advance the ball up field before laying it off to Wambach, whose ensuing cross was met by an unmarked Rodriguez.  Her side-footed shot from point blank range was denied by a one-handed save.

About 10 minutes later, Heather O’Reilly led the charge forward when she beat Diana Matheson to send in a cross. Lauren Sesselmann was in a great position to block Christie Rampone’s initial shot. Her far post rebound was grabbed in the air by LeBlanc, who then sparked the Canadian attack with her goal kick. The bouncing ball eluded Rachel Buehler and fell favourably for Tancredi. Her header into space allowed her to turn and shoot, but the low bouncing ball went just wide to the right of Hope Solo.

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The USWNT & CanWNT Battled in a Scrappy 1-1 Draw

The first of the two-game friendly series between the United States and Canada resulted in a 1-1 draw in front of a near capacity crowd of 16,191 packed into Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Boisterous fans created a lively atmosphere to welcome home their Women’s World Cup heroes, whose performance in this summer’s tournament ignited interest all over the US. Of the three friendlies played at home in 2011 prior to the WWC, two took place in comparatively large stadiums, like Red Bull Arena (25,000 capacity) and Columbus Crew Stadium (20,000 capacity), but had only managed to draw attendance merely in the 5,000s.

The situation for both teams couldn’t be more different: the USWNT was playing with the exact same group who recently propelled themselves to newfound celebrity status, and a coach whose unwavering loyalty to a particular formation and players have drawn cries for change and ingenuity from fans and commentators alike; in contrast, the CanWNT was playing under a new coaching staff following a sorrowful WWC with new players and new tactics.

September 17 was to be a battle of old and new. Yet, surprisingly, both teams stepped onto the pitch to test new strategies.

Pia Sundhage implemented a 4-2-3-1 for the match, a departure from her favoured 4-4-2.  The USWNT coach expressed her hopes of adding another dimension of unpredictability to the attack. Sundhage experimented by moving Lauren Cheney and Carli Lloyd, both of whom normally occupy more offensive roles, back to act as deep-lying midfielders. She was quick to point out that the pair would be “possession midfielders” as opposed to holding midfielders. Still in search for the team’s true No. 10, the Swede had Megan Rapinoe assume that role in the starting XI. The new formation was to emphasize play in the centre of midfield, but the US still found the most success attacking from the wings, especially in the first half.

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CanWNT Roster vs. USWNT & News on PanAm, CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifiers, SportsNet

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.

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