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.

No comments:

Post a Comment