An early goal and much rushing about by Canada set the Germans off their game for a while, and allowed Canadian fans to dream of a stunning upset. Christine Sinclair brilliantly headed home a long Kristina Kiss free kick in the 4th minute.
The Canadian women were pumped for this game, and they showed their typical physical style throughout the first half.
Even goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc got into the act, earning a caution for a collision outside the penalty area on Stephanie Gottschlich. If LeBlanc had got a piece of the ball, she would have been a hero instead of the recipient of a caution. I'm beginning to understand why Canada has three goalkeepers on the roster.
It took the Germans about 20 minutes to adjust their game and get organized. They were buoyed by a questionable penalty kick awarded by the North Korean referee in the 39th minute when Charmaine Hooper inadvertently touched the ball with her arm in front of the Canadian goal. Bettina Wiegmann slotted home the PK and the Germans were on their way.
To add injury to insult, the referee showed the yellow card to Hooper for her misfortune. Hooper was playing as a left centre back, and she seems to be adapting fairly well to her new assignment, having saved at least one sure goal in this match, as she has done in other recent friendlies. She was also sent up front for corner kicks; she kicks left-footed from the right corner, and plays in front of the opponent's net on left-corner kicks, which are usually taken by Kristina Kiss.
Unfortunately, the makeshift defensive back four, cobbled together recently in order to fill gaping holes caused by injuries, are not comfortable enough with each other. Though individually very talented, they have too many communication lapses. Against a team like Germany, that is a recipe for disaster.
By the end of the first half, Canada was tiring and in disarray. The Canadians' reputation for fitness was severely tested in this match. It was a mystery to me why Even Pellerud didn't substitute more of his players to get some fresh legs into the game.
Germany had 58% of the possession in the first half.
Kara Lang did not return for the second half; she was subbed by rookie striker Rhian Wilkinson, who acquitted herself well. The pace of the second half was much slower, and more to the Germans' liking.
The Germans took the lead for good less than a minute after the resumption of play, on a beautiful headed goal by an unmarked Stephanie Gottschlich, who chipped it nicely over LeBlanc.
From that point on, Canada never managed more than a few half-chances, while the Germans were able to penetrate the Canadian defence on numerous occasions. Canada tried to shore up the defence by moving Andrea Neil back from midfield, but she showed she was unaccustomed to playing there.
By the last twenty minutes, the Canadians were a beaten side. The midfielders were unable to advance the ball to Sinclair and Latham. The German assault was relentless. Maren Meinert was especially brilliant as a playmaker, and had a few excellent shots on goal.
Birgit Prinz, who had missed several excellent chances to score, finally found the net with a header from a Meinert cross in the 75th minute, and victory was secured.
Kerstin Garefrekes, who played the last 20 minutes of the match as a substitute for Renate Lingor, was quite impressive. She rubbed salt into the Canadian wounds late in injury time with a fourth goal for the European Champions, to nobody's great surprise (except perhaps for the player who was supposed to be marking her).
Canada has still never beaten Germany, and has yet to win a World Cup game.
This match had an eerie similarity to the last one between the Canadian and German men's teams, played in Germany last June 1. In that match also, Canada went ahead 1-0 on a header from a free kick. Germany came back 20 minutes later with the equalizer, and went on to win 4-1, the last goal coming in injury time.
The refereeing was mediocre, with several questionable calls being made.
The official attendance for this match was 16,340.
But apparently only half that many people were actually in the stadium:
"The reason they announced a crowd of 16,340, when half as many were there, is that's the number of packages they sold for the three double headers here. To get the best seats for the USA-North Korea game on Sunday, plenty of fans bought the packages and no-showed for the openers. Many might have been part of the 100,000 crowd which watched Ohio State play Bowling Green a few miles down the road earlier in the day."
- from an article by Terry Jones in the Edmonton Sun.
By way of contrast, Canada drew a crowd of 29,553 for its last friendly, played in Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium Aug. 31.
FIFA now may regret having turned down Canada's offer to host the Group C matches in Edmonton, where the FIFA under-19 women's world championship last year drew 162,207 for six dates and 47,784 for the final.
"We could have done a lot better than this'' said Canadian Soccer Association president Andy Sharpe, referring to the poor turnout in Columbus.
"We would have sold out [in Edmonton]. We drew the largest crowd in the history of women's soccer for a friendly,'' he said of the Commonwealth Stadium crowd for the Aug. 31 game against Mexico.
"For Germany in the World Cup, for all of the games we would have hosted in the World Cup, we would have sold that stadium out. We'd only have had three months, but we'd have sold out easily in three months in Canada.''