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. 

1 comment:

  1. It's easy for us to judge them but I'm sure the Canadian team really wanted to be successful it just didn't work out.