Americans sabotaging our team
From WayMore Sports
, Nov. 9, 01:00 EDT:
Canada loses two players
SMU threatens to revoke soccer scholarships
by Norman Da Costa
ARCADIA, Calif. — There was outrage on Canada's national team on the eve of the women's Gold Cup soccer final after two of their players were ordered to return to their U.S. universities immediately or have their scholarships revoked.
Goalkeeper Erin McLeod and defender Sasha Andrews, star members of the silver-medal under-19 world championship team in Edmonton this summer, were left with little choice but take the first flight from Seattle to join their Southern Methodist University team in Dallas Thursday, a day after Canada beat Mexico 2-0 to reach the final.
"They burst into my room crying to tell me that if they did not return right away they would lose their scholarships,'' fumed Even Pellerud, coach of the national team.
"They did not want to go back but their education is at stake. It is unbelievable that it should happen just before the final against the United States.
"That leaves us without a backup goalkeeper and puts us in a very risky and vulnerable position because none of the other girls have played in goal. I know that Karina (LeBlanc) is tough but we need to find another athletic person just in case.''
To compound matters, rules of the tournament do not allow countries to make changes to their 18-person roster and Canada cannot pursue this matter further because governing body FIFA has no jurisdiction over the NCAA.
It is the nature of the ultimatum that has Pellerud perturbed — particularly when he was in regular contact with the college coaches of five of his players before this tournament.
Pellerud and SMU coach George van Linden spoke to each other as late as last week and was told that he would be contacted if the pair were required for important matches in the Western Athletic Conference tournament this week in Houston.
SMU plays in the championship match tonight.
"But he then bypasses me and calls them directly in their rooms. I find this very unusual,'' said Pellerud.
Van Linden did not return several calls placed to him yesterday.
Others Canadians here on scholarships are Carmelina Moscato (Penn State), Breanna Boyd (University of Nebraska), Candace Chapman (Notre Dame) and Christine Sinclair (University of Portland).
"I find this hard to believe," said midfielder Moscato of Mississauga. "Is the college more important than playing for one's country?" she asked.
Pellerud played down the idea of a U.S. conspiracy.
"No, there is no such thing. But I notice some of the coaches have their own agendas, their own interests,'' he said. "I never suspected encountering this problem and I don't think it should be like that. I suppose they (coaches) also want to win their matches and want to field their best players.''
Tonight at the Rose Bowl (Sportsnet, 10 p.m. EST), the two CONCACAF powerhouses, both assured of berths in the World Cup, meet in the final with the more experienced Americans favoured.
Canada, though, has a 2-1-2 record in last five meetings and is more determined than ever to cart off the Gold Cup.
"That is the goal of the team,'' said captain and striker Charmaine Hooper. "Winning a World Cup berth leaves us with one unfinished business and that is winning the Gold Cup.''
Meanwhile, Pellerud said he would not respond to U.S. coach April Heinrichs' comment that "Canada is like all CONCACAF teams. They just sit back in the bunker.''
"I never talk about my opponents,'' said Pellerud. "That would be below my standard. But how can you score 25 goals in four matches here from the bunker or whatever that is called?''