Friday, October 28, 2011

Canadian Women Win Gold at the Pan Am Games

A redemption gold medal win for the Canadian women’s soccer team in an exciting match against the third ranked Brazilians at the Pan American Games held in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Brazil scored four minutes into the first half with a long ranged shot from Debora. It was Captain Christine Sinclair whose header equalized for Canada late in the game. Nothing was resolved after two 15-minute extra-time halves and the match would be decided in a penalty kick shootout. Canada scored three-straight kicks before Karina LeBlanc stopped Grazielle on Brazil’s third attempt. Both sides traded goals before Candace Chapman hit the post on the fifth kick. LeBlanc then made her second save - this one on Debora - to give Canada the gold.

Last summer at the Women’s World Cup in Germany the Canadian women unexpectedly finished last in the tournament. This win would serve as a confidence booster heading into CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament held on home soil in Vancouver at BC Place from January 19-29.

Tournament schedule:

Group Phase                                                 
 Thursday 19 January                                                                                   
17.00 Costa Rica v Cuba                                               
 19.30 Canada v Haiti                      
Friday 20 January
 17.00 Mexico v Guatemala
 19.30 Dominican Rep v USA
Saturday 21 January
 17.00 Haiti v Costa Rica
 19.30 Canada v Cuba
Sunday 22 January
 14.00 Mexico v Dominican Republic
 16.30 USA v Guatemala
Monday 23 January
 17.00 Cuba v Haiti
 19.30 Canada v Costa Rica
Tuesday 24 January
 17.00 Guatemala v Dominican Republic
 19.30 USA v Mexico
 Friday 27 January
 17.00 Semi-final #1
 20.00 Semi-final #2
 Sunday 29 January
 17.00 Winner Semi-final #1 v Winner Semi-final #2
*Only two teams will advance to London 2012.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

John Herdman new coach of the women's team

Late July, after the Canadian women's national team performed poorly at the World Cup, Italian native, Carolina Morace stepped down as head coach.

CSA hoped to find someone with international experience.

Late Wednesday evening, news broke that former New Zealand women's national team coach and technical director, John Herdman would be Morace's successor. 

Herdman's salary has yet to be disclosed but it is rumoured to be close to what Morace received. 

Herdman was head coach and technical director of the New Zealand women's national team since 2007. Until the World Cup. New Zealand had never earned a point nor scored a single goal. In Germany they drew 2:2 against Mexico and scored another goal against England. 

Herdman will act has technical director in Canada aswell. 

The announcement will become official tomorrow at 1pm ET. 

Continue to follow Bench Warmer and Canadian Soccer News for the latest info on this new development.  

Monday, August 1, 2011

New signings

Leading up to the World Cup, all but four players decided to step away from club team commitments to focus on preparing for Germany. With the World Cup over seven national team players took it in their own hands to find somewhere to continue to develop their game. 

Melissa Tancredi and Carmelina Moscato will be joining Steph Labbe at Pitea IF. World Cup starting 'keeper, Erin McLeod and veteran defender Emily Zurrer will also be playing in Sweden with Dalsjöfors. Labbe has already returned to Sweden while Tancredi, Moscato, Zurrer and McLeod will head to Sweden in September.

W-League's Vancouver Whitecaps snagged midfielder, Kaylyn Kyle right before the playoffs. Although only playing in three games, Kyle made an immediate impact scoring 2 goals in 3 games. Vancouver finished their season third in the league.

Candace Chapman and Christine Sinclair continue to play for Western New York Flash in the WPS. In their return to regular season play, they were greeted by a sold out  crowd (15,404) - a WPS record. Sinclair score two goals and assisted one as WNY defeated magicJack. Last Sunday the Flash faced the Boston Breakers and made a come-from-behind draw.

After being traded from WNY a quarter way through the 2011 season, Kelly Parker rejoins the Atlanta Beat who are currently at the bottom of the table with 7 points.

Sophie Schmidt finally gets to play for magicJack based in West Palm Beach, Florida. Unfortunately her first game didn't go as well as they lost 3-1 to WNY Flash.

Veteran goalkeeper, Karina LeBlanc also signed with magicJack. Karina previously played in the WPS for LA Sol and Philadelphia Independence. 

Continue to visit Bench Warmer for more Canadians abroad info.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Carolina Morace resigns as head coach of the women's team

The happy marriage gone sour between Carolina Morace and the CSA has ended in an unexpected divorce. 

Wednesday afternoon during the CSA's formal debriefing, Morace announced she'll no longer coach the women's program. 

"We planned the debrief and we were surprised by [Morace's decision] but in saying that we are prepared as an organization to move forward in our search for a new coach," Peter Montopoli, the CSA's general secretary

She informed her players via email right after she told the CSA her decision.

"I'm extremely disappointed. I have nothing bad to say about her," stated veteran defender Emily Zurrer. "She was an amazing coach and she brought us to a whole new level tactically and technically. Although we didn't show it at the World Cup, we really have improved enormously since she took over."

Just weeks before the World Cup began, everything was smooth sailing between Morace and the CSA. They both came to an agreement (details disclosed) and Morace would remain with the program until after the Olympics in 2012. The players even settled their differences with the CSA by negotiating terms for a set compensation - something the women's program has never had.

Leading up to the World Cup, Canada was on a high. They won 2 Cyprus Cup titles, CONCACAF Gold Cup and the Four Nations Tournament in Sao Paulo, Brazil. They also placed 6th in the world rankings - the programs' highest ever ranking. The "dark horse" is what people called them going into Germany.

Then Germany happened.

Canada's run at the World Cup can only be described as disastrous. They unexpectedly left Germany with 3 shots on goal, 1 goal and 0 points - finishing dead last in the tournament. After the loss against France, ultimately eliminating them from the World Cup, the debate, the tough questions immediately arose.

Should Morace be fired? Was it worth it to invest so much time and finances on the women's program? Who's to blame?

Well, not that Carolina is gone, those questions are basically irrelevant. It's time to move on from Morace and what happened in Germany and look onward to the future of this program.

What should be asked now is What does this country need to do to ensure a brighter future in the sport? Who will replace Morace? How does a struggling team move forward? Will they have enough time to prepare for Olympic qualifiers? The debate resumes.

What ever the answers are, the CSA needs to move quick. The Olympic qualifying tournament runs from January 19-29 in Vancouver. Should Canada fail to qualify it will only serve as yet another set back for soccer in Canada. 

"She was our leader and we trusted and respected her. She made us a better team. We have to thank her for that but now we have to [move forward] and hopefully we'll get a new coach that will be able to do what she did for us and bring us to an even higher level," Zurrer stated.

The CSA hopes to find a new full time coach with international experience by fall 2011. 

All quotes courtesy of John Molinaro from CBC

Friday, July 8, 2011

What went wrong?

Canadian soccer fans had high hopes for the women’s national team. The women themselves had high hopes for going far in the World Cup. Team Canada beamed with confidence going into Germany and rightly so. They won four of their last five tournaments before the World Cup and they climbed to 6th in the world – their highest ranking ever. It was clear that this team was the best women’s team Canada has ever put together.

Then they arrived in Germany.

They lost to Germany 2:1, which was expected. What wasn’t expected was a 4:0 blowout defeat from the French team – ultimately eliminating Team Canada from the tournament. What no one could have expected was losing their last group match to Nigeria, exiting Germany with 3 shots on goal, 1 goal and 0 points – the programs' worse ever showing at a World Cup.

For a team who was projected by the media, star players, and fans across the country as the “dark horse” of the World Cup they didn’t even earn a single point, one has to ask: what went wrong?

It’s hard to put a finger on one specific thing. There are a lot of reasons that lead to Canada’s disappointing showing.

Firstly I don’t think training in Rome was the best idea. While I think it’s a great to have a team spend as much time together leading up to major tournament, being together did them more bad than good. Athletes need balance in their life. Training while having some home time, a familiar place to look is key. Going into Germany, I think he women were mentally, emotionally drained.

However, it was the best situation given the circumstance. A team that’s going through a technical transition needs to test their progress in matches. Should Canada have trained in Canada they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to play as much friendlies as they did training in Rome. How can we change that so Team Canada can train in Canada while playing in preparation matches? More money? More support from the CSA? I don't have the answer for you but it's something that needs to be fixed. Quick. 

Secondly, plain and simple, they underperformed. Yes, I understand that’s the easy answer and essentially making an excuse for other teams being technically better than they are. But if you’ve followed this team in the two years prior to the World Cup, probably more evident in the past eight months, you’d know Canada has the ability to compete with the best in the world. When they got to Germany, the Canada we knew didn’t show up.

When things didn’t go their way and they got scored on, they panicked and as a result they resorted to old habits, playing Even Pellerud’s long ball system and forgetting everything Morace’s taught them in the past two years.

Maybe it was the pressure, the high expectations they put on themselves. But I think it’s the way these women have been developed as youth players. In Canada we teach kids to punt and chase the ball then when they graduate to the higher ranks, coaches teach them to play a passing game, the possession style of play. It should be the other way. Teach kids early on how to dribble, use both feet, pass, and find space so when they get older they’ll be more comfortable on the ball.

However I do believe with more time and Carolina Morace leading the way these women can become more comfortable with the technical, possession game. It takes time.

For the future, long-term player development needs to be applied now so down the road we can avoid situations Canada was faced in at the 2011 Women’s World Cup. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Carolina Morace: not the problem

Well in the bigger picture, she's not the one to blame.

When Canada lost to France on Thursday, ultimately eliminating them from the Women's World Cup, naturally finger pointing began and Canadian soccer supporters engaged in the blame game.

Much of the blame went to Italian head coach, Carolina Morace and rightly so. She's the leader of this team. The one who decides everything this team does and how they play directly reflects how she runs this program. The players, however, have a responsibility too. They must take what Carolina has taught them and bring it to every match.

That didn't happen.

Instead, Canada got out-played and out-classed by their opponents. They panicked and resorted to old habits, playing a one dimensional style of play, the long ball system, that may have worked for them in the past but the women's game is quickly moving forward, leaving Canada a step behind.

Sacking Morace isn't the right way to go about fixing soccer in Canada. This program needs Carolina. Have we all forgotten what she's brought to this team? Aside from all the controversy, (which for the most part was a good thing)  Morace has turned this pool of players from athletes into soccer players. Since her arrival in 2009, Carolina has completely revamped the women's team. She'es changed everything from the coaching staff, to the way they eat, think and play - and for the most part it's worked. She's helped them win their third Cyprus Cup in four years, win their first CONCACAF Gold Cup title ever, tied Brazil twice in one week eventually winning the Torneio Internacional Cidade de São Paulo and reaching 6th in the world - the program's highest ever ranking. By looking at the team's accomplishments since Carolina Morace arrived in Canada, it's clear she is not the problem.

The problem is how these players have been developed growing up playing in Canada. As Joson de Vos brilliantly pointed out in his blog, the players simply aren't used to a possession style of play. It doesn't come naturally to them like it does for France or Japan. But I won't be quick to dismiss these players and their ability to learn and perfect the new style that's flourishing in women's soccer. Carolina has brought them this far in just two years - imagine what she can do with more time. 

Carolina criticized the CSA saying Canada needs a domestic league in which she can have a deeper selection of players and keep an eye on her teams progress. Although that would solve a lot of problems, I don't see that happening any time soon. There's not even a men's domestic league in Canada and with the WPS struggling to survive there's no way a league will succeed in Canada - yet. For now Canada will have to get creative in their development. Players will have to take advantage of NCAA scouting opportunities, try to get noticed and player overseas once their collegiate years are over.

As Duane Rollins put it - Canada's failure is a blessing in disguise.

Despite the disappointment of Canada's under-performance at the World Cup, this could be the very thing that helps grow the sport in Canada. Weird, I know, but let me explain. In the past we may have ignored and accepted Canada's failure because the women's program has been somewhat successful but now with Canada's worst ever performance at a World Cup, this is a wake up call. Things need to change and it needs to start at the grassroots level. Teach our young players to control the ball, become comfortable with the ball on both feet instead of relying on their athleticism and size. Teach the them fundamentals first and then win instead of promoting winning and failing to teach then the basics of the game. It's clear the way soccer in Canada has been developing, for years now, won't work anymore.  

In order for Canada to have a fighting chance in competing with the best teams in the world in both the men's and women's we need to apply this now. The world is rapidly moving onward and Canada's being left behind.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Playing for pride

There may have been critics stating Canada shouldn’t be over hyped and probably won’t make it far in Germany but no one predicted Canada would be victim of the first blowout of the World Cup, the first team eliminated. No one. 

Canada put themselves on a pedestal, confidently predicting they’d make a deep run in Germany. They put their lives on hold, leaving family and friends behind, stepping away from their club teams to live in Rome and focus on preparations for the big dance.

No one expected them to win their opening match against the two time reigning World Cup champions, Germany but they kept the score tight. With their passion, determination, heart and Christine Sinclair’s heroics, Canada only lost to the host nation 2:1.

Against France, they showed none of their signature characteristics. Canada came out flat-footed and once French striker, Gaetane Thiney scored the opening goal Canada panicked and never recovered. They failed to play as a unit and as a result, they resorted to old habits playing a one dimensional, long-ball system rather than the possession style of play Carolina Morace has instilled in them since she arrived in Canada.

Harsh, but in short, Canada choked.

To say Canada had an off day seems like the easy answer as to what went down in Bochum. All credit to France who playing a near perfect match but one can’t help but wonder if Canada had played to their full potential, the match would have been different than a 4:0 defeat. Unfortunately the World Cup doesn’t accept “ifs, ands or buts.” Canada needed to perform and win but didn’t show up.

Now the team must forget about Thursday’s match (for now at least). They must wash the awful taste from their mouths and focus on leaving Germany with something to hold on to.

27th ranked Nigeria won’t be an easy task, by any means. The African team is very physical. Their athleticism has always been apparent and their defending has been very effective in this tournament thus far – holding off France and Germany to a one goal game. If Canada wants to leave Germany on a good note, have a little bit of confidence heading into Olympic qualifiers in Vancouver, they can’t hold anything back and leave everything on the pitch. Win this game and prove not only to the world but most importantly themselves they can do more than what they’ve performed so far. 

Canada takes on Nigeria in their final group match on Tuesday July 5th at 2:30pm EST on CBC. Streamed live on Replay will be at 7pm local also on CBC. 

Possible starting XI:          
                      Nault, Zurrer, Champan, Wilkinson
                              Schmidt, Matheson, Kyle        
                              Sinclair, Tancredi, Filigno       

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mark my words: Christine Sinclair will play against France

In Canada's first game of the Women's World Cup, Captain Christine Sinclair suffered a broken nose when German defender Babett Peter elbowed her in the face early in the second half. She quickly went down and was taken off the pitch. Her nose was crooked and she was in pain but that didn't stop her from playing. She went back on a scored the first goal Germany's conceded since 2003 World Cup. 

Tuesday, Sinclair didn't train with her team because she struggled with pain while running. 

Yesterday, reports indicated Sinclair may be in jeopardy to play in tomorrow's match. 

Reading Anjali Nayar's blog, Morace's stressed Sincy's absence would be a huge blow to the team. She said Christine trained with the team today but it was slow and light, very different from the pace and intensity of play tomorrow. She also said the French coach, Bruno Bini, should use her team's loss as an advantage. 

Melissa Tancredi who's also had her fare share of broken noses, spoke out on the situation saying it doesn't look like Sinclair will start .

Doctor's say there's a 40% chance she won't play on Thursday. 

Christine herself commented saying it's up to the doctors and if they say she can't play, she won't.

If you doubted Sinclair would be in the starting line up for one second, I'm sorry to have to break it to you but you've been punked.

The match against France will determine who moves on to the second round and who's leaving Germany early. There is no chance in hell, Christine Sinclair, Captain Clutch, the new Chuck Norris, what ever you want to call her, will miss Canada's most important game of this World Cup thus far. 

Carolina Morace is smart, I think most people have determined this already and she'll use any advantage she can get - even if that means she has to fabricate a story herself. I strongly believe this is just a rumour stirred up to throw France off their game.

According to French veteran, Sonia Bompastor it won't affect their game plan at all.

"Imagine if we always adapted our tactics to whether a player was injured or not," said Bompastor. "No, we have our game and we play the way we play." -Anjali reported.

The only concern about Christine playing tomorrow is her quality of play. She'll most likely wear a nose protector mask (which will be red), will this limit Christine's vision? Probably not. Sinclair is a world class footballer and as we all witnessed Sunday, she has a high pain tolerance. Proven with real facts tweeted with the hashtag #ChristineSinclair (I highly recommend you get twitter to follow along with the phenomenon), playing with a mask will probably improve her performance. 

When will we officially find out if Christine will play? Probably not till an hour before match time. Luckily those who live in North America, it will be in the morning. 

The big game will be live on CBC and Coverage begins at 11:30am EST. If you're at work (only acceptable excuse) the replay will be at 7pm EST on Rogers Sportsnet. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 1 of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup

Day 1 of the 2011 Women's World Cup comes to an end. 4 goals, 2 expected wins and 1 broken nose.

Group A action got underway today in the 6th Women's World Cup. France faced Nigeria in the first match. Nigeria wasn't expected to come out with three points but they also weren't expected to hold a tight game against the European side. The Nigerians took full advantage of their speed which proved to be deadly against a gassed French team. Nigeria played a high back line, allowing them to attack, putting their athleticism to good use and pressuring France. 25 minutes in, Desire Oparanozie had a breakaway opportunity but shot it wide. It wasn't till the 57th minute where second half sub Marie-Laure Delie was in the right spot at the right time, scoring her 22nd goal in 21 appearances.

Should Nigeria continue their high pressure they could give Canada and Germany a run for their money. With Germany and Canada in their path, France could see an early exit if their fitness continue to be an issue.

The second match of the day was the feature match in front on 73,680 people: Canada vs Germany. Right from the get go drama filled Olympic Stadium in Berlin. Just 6 minutes after kick off, Christine Sinclair had a golden opportunity to put the Canadians up 1-0 but shot it high. Four minutes later Kersten Garefrekes climbed over Marie-Eve Nault, heading the ball past Erin McLeod. Just before half time Okoyino Da Mbabi slipped passed the unorganized Canadian defence and tucked away Germany's second goal.

Early in the second half, Christine Sinclair made her way down the final third where Babett Peter, defending the ball, slamed her elbow into the Canadian captain's nose. She was visibily hurt and taken off the pitch. Tears were streaming down her face, blood dripping out her nose. It was clear she had broken her nose. However there was no way she was leaving the game, forcing Morace to use her third and final sub. No, with her grit and passion, Christine Sinclair continued playing..

Canada held most of the possession, Germany had more chances - ringing two off the cross bar and a open net miss.

With eight minutes left, Sinclair got clipped, earning a free kick 25 yards out. Sincy stepped up to take the kick and curled a perfectly placed ball into the top right corner, ending Nadine Angerer's record of not conceding a goal in a World Cup match since 2003.

The final whitsle blew and the score ended in a respectable 2-1 loss for Canada.

If there's ever such a thing called a 'good loss" this would be it. Though shaky at times, Canada held their own and put up a good fight against the best women's football team in the world. They held most of the possession, produced some good chances and did not seem intimidated by the pro-German crowd. I liked the creative set pieces our ladies displayed, particularly the on towards the end of the match where Rhian Wilkinson played it short to Jonelle Filigno who then gave a square ball to Sinclair. Christine played a controlled ground ball to Candace Chapman about 40 yards out, crossed it to Emily Zurrer who's first touch was poor and trickled wide. It's nice to see Morace has some tricks up her sleeve.Credit also has to go to Erin McLeod who kept her composure and made some key saves for Canada. Nice to see her back in between the pipes on a big stage.

Although there were some good things that came out of this loss, Canada still needs to work on a few things. O'm no expert I'll be the first one to say it buy many times throughout the match our backline were unorganized. At times we just stood there a watched the ball. Our backline is usually rock solid. Should they see anything past Group A they'll need to clean that up and play to our potential.

Next up is the crucial game versus France on June 30th at 12pm ET. Will be live on CBC and

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Canadian Women's World Cup Roster

Karina LeBlanc | Unattached
Erin McLeod | Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Steph Labbe | Pitea IF, Sweden

Emily Zurrer | Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Candace Chapman | Western New York Flash, USA
Rhian Wilkinson | Lillestrom SK Kvinner, Norway
Marie-Eve Nault | Ottawa Fury
Robyn Gayle | Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Chelsea Stewart/M | Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Kaylyn Kyle | Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Diana Matheson | Lillestrom SK Kvinner, Norway
Carmelina Moscato | Unattached
Kelly Parker | Atlanta Beat, USA
Sophie Schmidt | Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Desiree Scott | Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Brittany Timko/F | Unattached

Christine Sinclair (c) | Western New York Flash, USA
Melissa Tancredi | | Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Jonelle Filigno | Rutgers University, USA
Christina Julien | Ottawa Fury
Jodi-Ann Robinson | Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Alternates: GK: Rachelle Beanlands D: Melanie Booth F: Chelsea Buckland F: Brooke McCalla

Friday, June 10, 2011

CSA reaches compensation agreement with Canadian women

A day after Morace announced she'll be remaining as head coach of the women's program the players and the CSA have reached an agreement over the compensation issue. 

“The Canadian Soccer Association is pleased that we have reached a resolution and we look forward to supporting the Women’s National Team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™ as well as the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament in Vancouver and the 2012 London Olympic Games,” stated Canadian Soccer Association General Secretary, Peter Montopoli.

Not other details were released on what sort of pay the players will receive. 

The players first made this issue public in February 2011 when they unanimously voted to boycott any future games. They later lifted their boycott after seeing progress being made when CSA officials came to meet with Morace in Rome.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Morace to remain head coach of the national team through London Olympics

Ealier today it was announced that head coach of the women's team, Carolina Morace will stay with the national team until at least post London Olympics 2012.  

“Carolina Morace has agreed to remain in her role as head coach of Canada’s Women’s National Team through to the 2012 London Olympic Games. Morace will also continue in her role as the head coach of the Women’s U-20 National Team.” the Canadian Press reported earlier today. 

Morace has been in a dispute with the CSA over compensation involving her players and control of the program overall. In February, Morace handed in a resignation letter stating she would step down as head coach following the Women's World Cup which starts June 26th. In support of her decision, her players unanimously voted on a boycott threatening to forfeit international games. The women then lifted their boycott after they saw progress being made when CSA officials flew to Rome to meet with Morace. 

Carolina made her decision because she's pleased with the level of commitment and resources from the CSA. 

"Now we are on the same page. Now we can compete with the best teams in the world" Morace said on a conference call. 

After learning Carolina's decision to honour her contract, CSA's general secretary Peter Montopoli said the agreement between both parties is "evidence that the CSA is deeply commited to the women's program:"

Since taking post as head coach of the women's program Carolina has lead her team to two Cyprus Cup championships ('09 &'11) and a CONCACAF Gold Cup championship. She's turned Even Pellerud's previous long ball system into a more technical, fitness oriented and direct style of play. 

"We are of course so grateful for everything she has done for our program. She has completely turned it around and brought a whole new meaning to Canadian women's soccer." Steph Labbe said. 
Defender Emily Zurrer went on to tell me "She has completely changed the way we view and play the game, making us faster, stronger and smarter on the pitch. the future of female soccer in Canada is extremely bright and we are proud and excited to have her as our leader until at least 2012." 

Along with the championships Canada has won under her leadership, Canada has risen to 6th place in FIFA's world ranking - the highest ever ranking for the country. 

"I know we will continue on a successful path with her leading the way." Labbe continued. 

When asked whether 2015 is in the cards, Morace responded "there's nothing that closes the door for us to be together in 2015."

The CSA is still in negotiations with the players with the compensation issue. After retaining legal counsel the players threatened to file a suit for binding arbitration with the Sports Dispute Resolution Center of Canada. The matter hasn't reached that extreme yet and Montopoli hopes to find a common ground before the World Cup begins.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Canada pull off late goal win against Hungary

In front of 150 spectators in Telki, Budapest, Canada faced Hungary in one of their final preparation matches before the Women's World Cup. 

The first half was evenly matched. In the second half, however, Canada took command of the game. 

It wasn't until in 87th minute where midfielder Diana Matheson scored the game winner for Canada. Carmelina Moscato cleared the ball from the 18 yard box down the left flank where Jodi-Ann Robinson gathered the bounce and played a square ball to Chelsea Buckland who then played it to Jonelle Filigno. Jonelle turned towards goal and fed the ball to Diana Matheson who took a few controlling touches then took a low shot past the right side of Hungarian 'keeper Réka Szőcs. 

Although Canada secured the win I can't help but to be slightly worried about Canada's scoring ability of late. Hungary is ranked 30th in the world. Even though rankings have little affect on a team's performance, Canada is a much stronger team than the Hungarians. Even in the Swiss series (1-1 D; 2-1 W) and the match versus Holland (2-0 W), Canada should have scored many more goals. Having a great performance and creating numerous opportunities is good but not good enough especially against teams like Germany. 

Canada did play somewhat of a "B" team with Christine Sinclair, Candace Chapman (still out with an injury) Emily Zurrer, Marie-Eve Nault, and the likes missing from the starting line-up but that's no excuse. Canada has a deep bench and scoring shouldn't be a problem, especially against weaker teams. They've proven they don't have to rely on Sinclair to score goals now they just need to exercise it. Let's just hope they're saving all the goal scoring for the World Cup. 

On another note: Brittany Timko earned her 100th cap for Canada. She is one of 7 players to reach this milestone. Brittany has been playing for Canada for 9 years now. She made her first appearance for her country in 2002 against Japan at the Tournoi international in Limoges, France. The 25-year-old hopes to make her third World Cup roster. Brittany also served as captain for this match.

Jodi-Ann Robinson also reached a milestone today earning her 50th cap for Canada when she replaced Christina Julien in the 58th minute. Coincidentally Jodi-Ann is the all-time leader for appearances as a substitute. She broke Andrea Neil's record on May 15th with now 35 appearances off the bench. Robinson made her first appearance for Canada when she was 16 back in 2005 in a friendly versus Germany. Should Jodi-Ann be named to the final roster it will mark the second time she'll participate in a Women's World Cup.

Congratulation to both women on an incredible achievement. 

Canada starting XI:                     
                       Booth (Zurrer 46'), Moscato, Gayle, Wilkinson
                  Kyle (Stewart 46'), Matheson, Schmidt (Buckland 81') 
                     Julien (Robinson 58'), Filigno, Timko (Scott 64')

Canada's bench: 
GK: Rachelle Beanlands, Erin McLeod, Stephanie Labbe
D: Candace Chapman, Marie-Eve Nault, 
M: Kelly Parker, Nicole Setterlund, 
F: Christine Sinclair, Melissa Tancredi, Brooke McCalla, Amelia Pietrangelo, 

Hungary startin XI: 
                        Szabó, Gál, Szeitl, Megyeri (Dóra Papp 64')
     Jakabfi (Gáspár 64'), Smuczer, Rácz (Szórádi 89'), Jakab (Benkő 74')
                                Pádár, Méry (Katalin Fogl 76') 

There are 27 players in camp. Only 21 will make the Women's World Cup Roster. 18 days till kick off.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Canada defeat Holland

In Roma, Italy at Mancini Park, the Canadian women continue to prepare for the Women's World Cup which kicks off in 27 days. 

In a closed international friendly, Canada took on Netherlands. Despite not having captain Christine Sinclair in the line-up due to club commitments, the women defeated the Holland 2-0. 

“They were constantly on the move and put a lot of pressure on the ball,” Dutch coach Roger Reijner was quoted at “We did not adequately answer. It was a deserved victory for Canada. ”

22 year old forward, Jodi-Ann Robinson scored at the 55 minute mark. In the 61st minute she was then subbed off for Christina Julien.

Just 8 minutes later, Julien scored the second goal for the red and white.

Morace benched many of her regular starters giving time for other players to show what they have before the coaching staff decide their final roster

Some notable changes were on the back line. Rhian Wilkinson was replaced by Melanie Booth on right back. This was Mel's first match since March 7th, 2011 at the Cyprus Cup vs England.

Also Carmelina Moscato, normally a mildfielder, was moved to center back. Usually Candace Chapman plays that position but she's in Buffalo with the her WPS club Western New York Flash.

Canada's starting X1: 
                                                          Erin McLeod                                    
                 Melanie Booth, Carmelina Moscato, Emily Zurrer, Marie-Eve Nault
                           Diana Matheson, Brittany Timko, Sophie Schmidt
                           Jodi-Ann Robinson, Desiree Scott, Jonelle Filigno

Morace made one change--substituting Robinson for Julien (61')

Canada previously faced Holland March 3rd, 2011 in the Cyprus Cup final and won 2-1. 

This will be the last scheduled preparation game Canada has lined up before they face Germany in the opening match of the Women's World Cup. 

In other news:

  • Kelly Parker of the Western New York Flash was traded to the Atlanta Beat for Atlanta's third pick in the 1st round of the 2012 WPS Draft and the first pick of the second round. WNY Flash player Julianne Sitch was also part of the trade.
  • Candace Chapman was listed as injured on the WPS website. No word as to how serious the injury is. She is a vital member of Canada's back line. She also has a lot of international experience and is a leader on the team. Huge blow to Canada if she's not healthy in time for the world cup.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Western New York Flash remain unbeaten

On a day where the score could have easily been blown out, magicJack had a tough time putting one in the back of the net thanks to the crossbar and some outstanding goalkeeping by Ashlyn Harris.

In front of 8,076 fans at Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester, the #1 and #2 teams in the Women's Professional Soccer League kick off for the first time in their club history.

Western New York didn't take long to get on the scoreborad. Just 77 seconds in Kandance Wilson carried the ball up the right flank and played a through ball to Marta who cut past Becky Sauerbrunn then shot it right into a sliding Hope Solo. The rebound fell right to Christine Sinclair who's volley hit off the woodwork but birthday girl Becky Edwards was there to finish it off.

The Flash kept pouring on the pressure but could not capitalize. A swing in momentum gave Shannon Boxx a scoring chance outside the 18 but ricocheted off the corssbar, something that seemed all too familiar to magicJack that evening.

Just before the first half ended captain Caroline Seger put her side up 2-0 in the 42nd minute. Sinclair played a long ball to Seges who ran down the center of the field, turned like she was going to play it wide but snuck it through the legs of magicJack defender Meghan Schnur and went in far post past Hope Solo.
“That was my fault,” Solo said.  “I thought Schnur was going to get the tackle in.  I took the opportunity to check my back post to check my angle and I came back and the shot comes.  So it was just bad timing on my part.”

In the 83rd minute WNY almost gifted magicJack their first goal after a misclear gave Ella Masar an opportunity near the penalty spot but her shot bounced off the crossbar. A tough night for Masar as she had countless opportunities but could not put one in the back of the net.

Just three minutes later, Seger would get her second goal of the game. Marta drew a penalty when Tina Ellerton took her down in the box. Rattled by the tackle, Seger stepped up to the plate burying it in the lower right corner.

Western New York Flash improved their record to 5-0-1 and magicJack remain second in the league with a 3-1-0 record. Their next match-up will be June 20th at Sahlen's Stadium

Canadian players: 

Kelly Parker: After progressively improving throughout the course of the season, Parker sat on the bench for the full 90, given a break after coming in late Friday afternoon from Rome.

Candace Chapman: Much like every game, Candace was a part of the starting XI. Playing in  a center back position, Chpaman used her athleticism and speed to cut off Masar and Wambach's physical presence. She made some huge defensive plays byt running down players and blocking shots.

Christine Sinclair: Although a striking force up front, Sinclair could not seem to keep the ball under the bar. Early in the first half, Christine had a breakaway chance but casually shot it for an easy Solo save. Christine seemed a little gased from all the traveling and didn't have her usual jump. Even on her worse day Sinclair still managed to assist the first two goals.

The three Canadians will remain with WNY Flash until the beginning of June where then they will return to Carolina Morace's squad for final World Cup preparations.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Canada defeats Switzerland

After playing below par three days ago, Canada bounces back to get the win versus Switzerland today. 

The game started off poorly for Canada as Switzerland's Ana Maria Crnogorcevic puts her side up 1 nil eight minutes in. Ramona Bachmann played the ball to Lara Dickenmann who took it down the left flank then crossed it to Crnogorcevic who knocked it in on a first touch. 

In the 31st minute, Swiss captain Caroline Abbé scored on her own net to give Canada the equalizer. Kaylyn Kyle gave the ball to Christine Sinclair who hit the ball across the face of the net and bounced off Abbé

"Matheson was taken down, so maybe they were thinking a penalty was going to be called," said Sinclair. "I just crossed it and it went off (Abbé)".

Going into the second half, Kaylyn Kyle was subbed out for Kelly Parker, making her first appearance for Canada after injuring her foot in training. Last time she played for the red and white was September 15th, 2010. 

Soon after, Canada took the lead on a great team effort. Schmidt gained possession then passed it wide to Marie-Eve Nault who then played it to Diana Matheson. Diana dibbled down the center of the pitch giving it to Sinclair who received the ball with her back facing the goal. Sinclair quickly played a through ball to Parker who cut towards the goal and played a square ball to Christina Julien for the easy tap in.  

In the 62nd minute Desiree Scott came in for Julien. A minute after, midfielder Marie-Eve Nault is replaced by Chelsea Stewart.

More subs for Canada as Brittany Timko makes her way on the pitch for Jonelle Filigno(68') up front and Robyn Gayle comes in for Rhian Wilkinson(72') on the backline. Both Rhian and Britt made their 98th appearance for Canada this evening. 

Finally, Carolina Morace used her sixth and final sub replacing Sophie Schmidt with Carmelina Moscato in the 81st minute. 

Canada created some more opportunities before the final whistle but could not capitalize. In the 84th minute, Emily Zurrer's goal was called back because she was offside. 

"We could have easily scored five goals," said Sinclair of the team's performance. "We're definitely showing signs of improvement which is all we're looking for heading into the FIFA Women's World Cup."

With the win, Canada improves their 2011 record to 7-1-2. Canada is expected to play in a few more friendlies leading up to the World Cup. Stay tuned for more details. 

SUI starting XI: 
                                                           Marisa Brunner
                        Selina Kuster, Rahel Graf, Caroline Abbé, Sandra Betschart
                                 Lara Dickenmann, Jehona Mehmeti, Marina Keller
                        Ramona Bachmann, Ana Maria Crnogorcevic, Martina Moser

Subs: Isabelle Meyer for Betschart (57'), Lara Keller for Bachmann (67'), Vanessa Bernauer for Mehmeti (72'), Vanessa Pittet for Keller (79'). 

CAN starting XI:
                                                          Karina LeBlanc
                    Marie-Eve Nault, Emily Zurrer, Cance Chapman, Rhian Wilkinson
                       Sophie Schmidt, Diana Matheson, Jonelle Filigno, Kaylyn Kyle
                                            Christina Julien, ChristineSinclair

In other news: Canada will host CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Vancouver B.C is the lucky city to host all games at the newly built BC Place. The tournament will run from January 19-29, 2012. Canada and seven continental opponents will compete for two berths to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Canada draws vs Switzerland

Sunday May 15th, Canada played in a closed international friendly against Switzerland in Roma, Italy.

On paper, Canada would be the obvious favourite heading into this match. Canada kept the majority of the possession but the Swiss were prepared and were  able to hold off the Canadians and limit their chances offensively.

29 minutes in, Canada's Sophie Shmidt hit the cross bar.

In the 38th minute, Caroline Abbe scored for Switzerland.

Kaylyn Kyle equalized for Canada in the 66th minute, snagging her firs full international goal.

Canada had an opportunity to take the lead in the 77th minute, but Desiree Scott's shot hit the cross bar.

Also, congratulations to Chelsea Buckland on making her first appearance for Canada.

The two nations will square off again on May 18th in Niederhasli 6:00pm local. 

Canada is expected to play in another World Cup tune-up against Holland at the end of the month. Stay tuned for more details. 

40 days until the Women's World Cup kicks off. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Update: May 10th 2011

Back to camp:
  • After a 10 day break, the women are back in Rome for final WWC preparations
  • After suffering a foot injury, Kelly Parker is back with the team in hopes she'll make the cut.
  • WNY Flash teammates Candace Chapman and Christine Sinclair will also be in Rome for a week. They'll head back to WNY until the beginning of June then return with the national team for final prep before June 26th. 

Unfortunate turn of events:
  • Early May, Steph Labbe injured the posterior cruciate ligament in her right knee.
  • Surgery is not needed just three months or less rehab
  • By her tweets you can tell she's staying positive and still looking to get back to training with Canada. 
  • It has not been officially announced what Steph's status is. She had an MRI and will meet with doctors Tuesday night for the prognosis
  • Pitea currently has two back-up 'keepers, Hanny Wikstrom and Anna Carlsson but the club continues to hunt for a new goalkeeper. 
  • The Club won't be able to sign a new player until a transfer window opens in August. 
New face at camp:
  • Due to Labbe's injury, Morace was forced to call up a new 'keeper to Rome.
  • Teenager Rachelle Beansland got the nod to train with Canada's finest.
  • Beansland attended this past winter's national U-18 camp in Brazil and backstopped the Ottawa Furry U-17 girls to the 2010 Super Y-League Championship. 
  • Congrats on the opportunity, Rachelle. 
  • Last weekend WNY Flash defeated Sky Blue FC 3-1
  • Parker and Candace both got the start.
  • Sinclair was in Montreal receiving her green card. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Labbe suffers knee injury vs Kristianstad

Pitea IF faced former head coach Elizabeth Gunnarsdottir and the Kristianstad DFF on Sunday May, 1st.

Unfortunately for PIF, in the 25th minute, Stephanie Labbe injured her knee in a collision with a Kristianstad player. Unsure how serious the injury is. Labbe tweeted today "knee is stable but hard to tell for sure with the swelling... icing it lots till doc again tomorrow..."

There are 54 days left until Canada takes on Germany, a little less until Morace announces her World Cup roster so still some time left for her knee to heal.

The show must go on.

It's hard for any 'keeper to come in cold for an injured teammate. Imagine doing that at 16 years of age. That's what  Hanna Vicstrom was faced with when she stepped in for Labbe.

Seven minutes before full time, June Pedersen put Pitea on the score board.

The last minute effort was a little too late as PIF fell short to Kristianstad. Margret Lara got the hat trick for her side.

Stay tuned for Labbe updates.

WNY Flash win home opener

WNY snag a 3-0 win over Atlanta with goals by Christine Sinclair and Alex Morgan

The Flash dominated play right from the start with attacks coming left and right by Marta, Sinclair and Caroline Seger, while The Beat struggled to find a rhythm.

23 minutes in, for the third time this season, Sinclair scored the first goal of the macth for the Flash.  After a series of saves by the two-time WPS Player of the Week, Alli Lipsher, the ball bounced infront of Sinclair who headed the ball in the back of the net.

The second half looked much like the first with WNY controling play.

In the 55th minute Seger made an incredible individual play to find Sinclair alone who shot wide. But four minutes later Sinclair would make up for the missed opportunity when Marta played a perfect chip ball that fooled Lipsher for an easy tap in.

The hat trick would have to come another day as Morgan was subbed in replacing Sinclair in the 66th minute. Morgan quickly made an impact scoring her first professional goal just seven minutes later.

Despit allowing 3 balls pass her, Alli Lipsher played a great game making great athletic saves. The score could have been a lot different if it hadn't been for Lipsher.

Unlike last week, WNY were too much for Atlanta to handle.

Breaking down Canadians play:

Candace Chapman: Played a relatively easy match today with not much to do as her side out shot the opposing team 20- 3. WNY played a 3-5-2 formation today pushing Champan to the right side instead of center back.

Kelly Parker: Got her first start this season and made an impact being the spark plug on the right side. Earned quiete a few corners and assisted on Morgan's first goal sending a through ball splitting Atlanta defenders.

Christine Sinclair: Clicked a lot better with her teammates are got many more touches this week. Scored two goals making her the lead leading goal scorer thus far with four.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Monthly Wrap: April 2011

They lost their second game of the year:

  • April 2nd, Canada faced Sweden in a closed friendly. They lost 1-0 form a 9 minute goal by Rohlin.

Rome camp continues:

  • Camp began March 23rd through April 20th
  • The women were on a 10 day break - some went to visit family and friends others took a vacations around Europe
  • The team will meet back in Rome May 1st to continue WWC preparations and head to Germany from there.

Few more friendlies before the big dance:

  • Canada will play Switzerland on May 15th in Rome
  • The two nations will square off again on May 18th in Niederhasli, Switzerland.
  • May 28th Canada will play in their final friendly vs. Netherlands. Location has yet to be confirmed.

WPS regular season kicks off:

  •  Sinclair, Chapman and Parker all play for WNY Flash
  • Great start to the season with a 2-1 Win over Boston
  • 2nd game a little less intense coming out with a 2-2 draw vs. Atlanta Beat.
  • Sinclair scoring a goal in each a game assisting and assisting on Marta’s first goal of the 2011 season.
  • Chapman getting the start in both games
  • Parker who recently came off a foot injury is easing in to the season coming on as a sub in the first two matches.
  • Next match: Sunday May 1st at Sahlen Stadium vs. Atlanta Beat at 4pm ET.

Injuries and surprises:

  • After suffering an ankle injury in January 2011, Josee Belanger won’t recover in time for the Women’s World Cup. Unfortunate for Josee as she was looking forward to competing in her first WWC.
  • Fortunately Oregon State Junior, Chelsea Buckland will take her spot on the World Cup roster. Buckland who traveled with the team to the Cyprus Cup as a reserve and trained with them in Rome last month is looking forward to earning her first cap with Big Red
  • Even though the roster has not yet been made public, Morace probably has a good idea of who she will be taking to Germany. So it should be noted that Buckland could still be cut as there are 23 players in camp and 21 will be selected to represent Canada this summer.

The athletes won’t be the only Canadians representing Canada this summer:

  • Carol Anne Chenard is one of 51 officials selected to officiate at the Women’s World Cup. ‘
  • In 2010 she officiated for the championship game at the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany.

  • Every three days leading up to the world cup CSA’s  official website will do a feature on the players.
  • Karina LeBlanc and Jonelle Filigno were the first two features posted.