Thursday, March 31, 2011

Monthly Wrap: March 2011

  March has been good to the women.

  A pretty eventful month considering not much is going on with the team other than World Cup preparations. Here's a run down of what Big Red has been up to in March:

Cyprus Cup preparations begin

  • March 2nd- Canada took on Scotland in their first match of the Cyprus Cup. Zurrer scored the winning goal giving Canada a 1-0 win.
  • March 4th- Canada faced Carolina Morace's former team, Italy in their second match. Capturing the game winner for Canada was Mississauga's own Jonelle FIligno. Another 1-0 win for the red and white.
  • March7th- Needing a win or draw to defend their title, Canada squared off against England and snagged a 2-0 win. Goals scored by Brittany Timko and Christine Sinclair. 
  • March 9th- Taking on Holland, Canada entered its fourth consecutive Cyprus Cup final. Playing under unpredictable weather, Filigno buried the ball in the back of the net on a Dutch miscue. Netherlands equalized on a rare Matheson mistake. In extra time Zurrer's "sick" goal captured Canada's third Cyprus title in four years.

Women's World Cup comes to Canada

  • March 3rd- FIFA officially announced Canada home to the 2015 Women's World Cup. 
  • Canada was the lone remaining bid. 
  • Reportedly set to begin mid-June to mid-July. 
  • Tournament will expand from 16 to 24 teams and from 32 to 52 matches in 2015.
  • Canada will also host FIFA women's U-20 tournament in 2014.
  • Minimum six cities will stage matches. Edmonton, Halifax, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver are potential host sites. (check out All White Kit's site for venue info )
  • Toronto was a part of original bid but pulled out due to Pan American Games commitments set to begin July 10, 2015.  
  • Toronto still a potential host for U-20 tournament in 2014. 
  • Official host cities are expected to be announced late 2011 early 2012 after FIFA has conducted a series of reviews on potential venues. 

Canada moves up in FIFA/Coca-Cola Women's World Ranking

  • March 18th- Previously ranked ninth, Canada moved up three spots to sixth in the world.
  • Gained 54 points in a three month span, more than any other nation.
  • Since the previous ranking, Canada has earned 8 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss. 
  • Canada isn't far behind the top 3 with only 148 points away from No. 1, USA. 

WPS pre-season

  • Three Canadians hit will the pitch for their Women's Pro Soccer club in 2011.
  • Sinclair (Burnaby, BC), Chapman (Ajax, Ontario) and Kelly (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) have all signed with WNY Flash.
  • Rumours lingered around that Sophie Schmidt denied to enter the WPS draft yet her name is listed under MagicJack's roster. Official rosters are set to e announced March 31st, so we will wait and and see. 

CSA-Morace update

  • Negotiations between the CSA and Morace continue to keep current head coach at least until the 2012 London Olympic Games.  
  • A proposal, including compensation for the women's team has been presented to Morace.
  • When CSA president, Dominic Maestracci was asked on the relationship between the governing body and Morace, he responded "It's better." 
  • No details on what was proposed.  
  • Let the waiting game begin. Again. 


  • Also wanna wish Karina LeBlanc a happy birthday. 8 year vet of the team. Great role model and leader. 8 more years, Karina!

Right now the team is in Rome preparing for this summer's Women's World Cup in Germany. Camp includes 24 players and will run from March 23rd to April 20th. Asset player, Josee Belanger is missing from this camp due to an injured ankle. On the other hand, new names have been called up. Bryanna McCarthy, Chelsea Buckland and Brooke McCalla. The team is expected to play in a friendly versus Sweden on April 2nd. Kick off 12pm local time. Good luck!

Players at camp:
GK- Stephanie Labbé | SWE / Piteå IF
GK- Karina LeBlanc | USA / Unattached/ sans club
GK- Erin McLeod | USA / Unattached/ sans club
D- Melanie Booth | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
D- Candace Chapman | USA / Western New York Flash
D- Robyn Gayle | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
D- Bryanna McCarthy | CAN / Toronto Lady Lynx
D- Rhian Wilkinson | NOR / Lillestrøm SK Kvinner
D- Emily Zurrer | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
M- Chelsea Buckland | USA / Oregon State University
M- Kaylyn Kyle | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
M- Diana Matheson | NOR / Lillestrøm SK Kvinner
M- Brooke McCalla | CAN / Master’s Futbol Academy
M- Carmelina Moscato | Unattached / sans club
M- Marie-Eve Nault | CAN / Ottawa Fury
M- Sophie Schmidt | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
M- Desiree Scott | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
M- Brittany Timko | Unattached / sans club
F- Jonelle Filigno | USA / Rutgers University
F- Christina Julien | CAN / Ottawa Fury
F- Amélia Pietrangelo | CAN / Comètes de Laval
F- Jodi-Ann Robinson | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
F- Christine Sinclair | USA / Western New York Flash
F- Melissa Tancredi | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC

*Update: Confirmed on MagicJack's roster, Sophie Schmidt will be joining Wambach and crew. 4 Canadians in the WPS now! Also, Belanger hurt her ankle in January. No confirmation weather she'll be joining the team in Rome. However, seeing her name missing from the list, I am assuming she is recovering.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Canadians in the WPS

  When the 2011 WPS season is set to kick off this April, three Canadians will be in the midst of it all. And hey, what do you know, they've all signed with the same team. Makes our life a lot easier in terms of following their success.

  W-League franchise Buffalo Flash made an upgrade this year and became the 6th WPS team, re-naming the squad Western New York Flash.

  Three Canadians decided to join the expansion team. Christine Sinclair, captain of the CANwnt was among the first to make the move. The six-time Canadian Player of the Year suited up for FC Gold Pride last season and scored two goals to help her side win the 2010 WPS Championship. After the team ceased operations, Sinclair became one of the league's top available players. It's no secret Sinclair is a world class player. Having been given the nickname "Captain Clutch" for her amazing ability to score winning goals for her team, she will no doubt be an important presence for the Flash.

  Canadian defender Candace Chapman was next to sign with the Flash. Like Christine, Chapman played for the FC Gold Pride in 2010, winning her first WPS Championship. Life as a defender means they don't see much scoring action. However in the 2008 Olympics, Chapman scored the first ever goal for Canada in the event. Having a defender making offensive runs will serve well for WNY.

  2010 USL W-League Champion and MVP, Kelly Parker made the move up with her former squad Buffalo Flash to the WPS. Parker is no stranger to the WPS as she played for FC Sky Blue in 2009. Parker is known as a versatile player. She could be placed anywhere on the pitch and make a difference. However, the only player in W-League history to snag MVP honours (Ottawa Fury 2004) got injured last year. Her status at the moment is unknown, but for WYN's sake (and Canada) let's wish her a speedy recovery.

  On another note: I noticed Portland Pilot alumni, Sophie Schmidt was listed under MagicJack's roster but I heard rumours that she denied to enter WPS draft. Maybe focusing on world cup preparations? If anyone can clear this up, that would be great!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Where is Toronto?

 In early March, FIFA awarded Canada hosting rights for the 2015 Women's World Cup. Four years ago Canada fell short to Germany in hosting this summer's World Cup. The decision was inevitable as Canada's lone competitor, Zimbabwe pulled out of the running a week earlier.

  In 2015, the Women's World Cup will expand from 16 countries to 24 and from 32 matches to 52. Same size tournament as the FIFA men's U-20 World Cup in 2007.

 When Canada hosted in 2007, it attracted close to 1.2 million spectators and generated an estimated $259 million in economic activity across Canada.
  Now that the ball has been thrown in Canada's corner again, it's up to the Canadian Soccer Association to pick official host cities. Nothing willl be decided until after a series of reviews by FIFA. A minimum of six cites willl be chosen. Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Moncton, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver are up for consideration. But where is Toronto?

  In the beginning bidding stages, Toronto was invited to be a part of the process. "In early November we received a letter from Tourism Toronto, representing the city, indicating they no longer wanted to be a part of the bid" said Montopoli.

  Toronto is set to host the Pan American Games from July 10-26, 2015.

  When trying to reach CEO of Tourism Toronto, David Whitaker, he was unavailable.

  A call to mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford's press secretary was not immediately returned.

  So one has to wonder, what the heck is going on. Yeah, okay, Toronto is hosting the Pan Am Games that summer, so what? The event isn't set to begin till a month after the opening game of the World Cup. Surely an established city such as Toronto can host both.

  Don't get me wrong here. Of course I believe hosting the Women's World Cup willl be successful without Toronto's involvement. Receiving hosting rights is an unbelievable opportunity for Canada to showcase its talent and get people excited about the game from coast to coast. Hosting a world event unifies a nation, just like we all experienced during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Undoubtedly similar reactions willl occur once Canada welcomes the world's best female footballers. So why am I insisting Toronto get hosting rights? Well aside from the obvious bias reasons:

  • Toronto is home to BMO Field, Canada's National Stadium. How can Canada host a world event without the involvement of its national stadium?
  • The Skydome Rogers Center, one of Toronto's popular tourist attractions, is another possible venue. Rogers Center can hold over 46,000 people for a soccer match.
  • Canada's first MLS franchise was Toronto FC who plays in front of near capacity crowds every game. Attendance won't be an issue.
  • Toronto hosting the Pan Am Games a month after the World Cup begins? What better way to sell last minute tickets and hype up the event than to host a few games?
  • Several players on the team have family living in the GTA and its surrounding area or live there themselves. To play in front of loved ones at the world stage is a once in a life time opportunity.
  • When Canada hosted FIFA' men's U-20 tournament, Toronto was host to 25% of the games, one of which was the championship game. We have experience.
  • Toronto is Canada's largest city. How can it be excluded?
  It was Toronto's decision to back out, but it's early yet. Representatives from the CSA and FIFA will not tour proposed sites until the fall and host cities willl not be confirmed until this evaluation is complete. "They have to follow up and be a part of everything that everybody else has gotten to this point and this stage right now" said Montopoli. Toronto still has a chance to participate. "Is there a potential for another city to come in? I would say the list is not exhausted by any means" Garry Lunn, the federal Minister of State for Sport said. It's up to the city of Toronto to decide weather or not it's worth it. Easy answer for me.

  At the end of the day, all us Torontonian footy fans are asking for is one game, just give us one. I could care less if it's the two lowest ranked teams playing, I just want a taste of World Cup glory in my hometown. It willl be a hard pill to swallow if Canada goes on without Toronto, only time shall tell.

  Regardless of where the games are played, I plan on attending as many matches as possible. Soccer enthusiasts across the country should be pumped that Canada has qualified for a sixth Women's World Cup. Possible championship repeat at home? Probably getting ahead of myself, but definitely not a stretch.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Another cup win for the women

Make that 4 in a row.

Earlier this month Canada played in the Cyprus Cup involving 12 countries. Unfortunately there was no television coverage or web feeds covering Canada's matches so us fans had to rely on the wonderful world of twitter and @CanadaSoccerEN tweets.  Big Red competed against Scotland in their first match and won 1-0; goal by Zurrer. The result did not reflect the game as Canada dominated the majority of the match and could have scored a lot more.

 In their second game, Canada squared off against coach Morace's former team, Italy. I'm sure it was kind of weird for the squad to play the Italians, especially for the coaching staff since the majority of them are Italian but when it comes down to it, red and white is all that matters. Rising young star, Jonelle Filigno scored the game winner. Reports indicate Canada dominated the first half, but let up in the second allowing Italy more time and space on the ball. In situations like this, I am so happy the team lifted their boycott to be able to play in games and work on weak spots before the big dance. In the end, Canada prevailed and captured the W.

Canada's next victim was England. A win or draw would advance Canada to the finals. Morace instilled a new formation 4-1-4-1 and was very pleased with the way her team played and adjusted to the system. She stated "We believe in ourselves more. And England are in the middle of their season and so they are more prepared than us. It was an important win." Canada's goal scorers were captain Christine Sinclair and returning midfielder Brittany Timko. Fan's across Canada were uberly excited to see not only Canada make it to the finals again but to see players such as Timko stepping up. The  win gained Canada its 4th consecutive Cyprus Cup final.

Playing for gold is something Canada is used to. However, no team is used to playing in unpredictable weather and that's just what they were faced with. On a cold, windy, wet Wednesday night, Canada squared off against Holland to defend their Cyprus Cup championship. Filigno capitalized on a Dutch miscue caused by the wind and buried the ball in the net. Holland tied it up in the 40th on a rare mistake by Matheson. In the second half Canada played better but did not have the wind to their advantage. Of course in true Canadian style they did not let obstacles phase them. Unfortunately for Canada, returning goalkeeper McLeod got injured on a dangerous run by Holland in the 89th minute and was replaced by Labbe. Morace claimed "It was nothing serious, but we have three very good goalkeepers." The game was taken to extra time. Both sides had equal chances but were shut down by sharp 'keepers Labbe and Guerts. In the 99th minute, Big Red was awarded a corner kick and Zurrer capitalized on what only was described as a "sick" goal giving Canada a 2-1 victory to maintain their Cyprus Cup reign.

Notes: Welcome back to one of my favourite 'keepers Erin McLeod. Nice to see her back preparing for the World Cup after suffering a knee injury last year. I haven't heard if she's still hurt or not. So keep an eye out for that. Also suffering a similar knee injury last year, Britttany Timko is back killin it on the pitch. Last December she was subbed in one of Canada's matches in Brazil and it seems as though recovery is going well and leaning toward more playing time. Things are only looking up for Canada!