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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Here's the Canadian roster for the World Cup:

D - Sasha Andrews - Vancouver Whitecaps/U. of Nebraska
D - Breanna Boyd - Carolina Courage
D/F - Silvana Burtini - Unattached
D - Tanya Dennis - University of Nebraska
D - Randee Hermus - Fløya (Norwegian Premier)
D/F [!!] - Charmaine Hooper - Atlanta Beat
M - Kristina Kiss :kiss: - Fløya (Norwegian Premier)
F - Kara Lang - Vancouver Whitecaps
F - Christine Latham - San Diego Spirit
GK - Karina LeBlanc - Boston Breakers
M - Diana Matheson - Toronto Inferno
GK - Erin McLeod - Vancouver Whitecaps/SMU
D - Isabelle Morneau - Ottawa Fury
M - Carmelina Moscato - Vancouver Whitecaps
M - Andrea Neil - Vancouver Whitecaps
D - Sharolta Nonen - Atlanta Beat
F - Christine Sinclair - Vancouver Whitecaps/U. of Portland
GK - Taryn Swiatek - Ottawa Fury
M - Brittany Timko - Vancouver Whitecaps/U. of Nebraska
M/F - Rhian Wilkinson - Ottawa Fury/U. of Tennessee

Defender Linda Consolante, who didn't make the cut, has been recalled to replace an injured roster player at the last minute. It hasn't yet been revealed who that player is. My guess is Breanna Boyd.
Update: Sept. 18

Canada made a roster change today replacing defender Breanna Boyd with defender Linda Consolante. Boyd was deemed medically unfit to play in the tournament as she is still recovering from the effects of a concussion suffered in July in a WUSA game. The CSA has informed the FIFA Medical Committee of the change and are expecting confirmation of the roster move.

Consolante joined the team for the international friendly against Australia on September 14 in Kingston, Ontario and has been with the squad training in Columbus, Ohio. The Montreal native has been capped three times for Canada and plays with the Ottawa Fury of the W-League.

Defender Randee Hermus will stay with the team for the duration of the tournament. Hermus has been sidelined with a stress fracture in her leg but will remain with the squad in the hopes on being fit to play at some point in the competition.

Apparently, Canada is so short of able-bodied Defenders that we can't replace a player who has a stress-fracture in her leg, and we have to put strikers on defence (Charmaine Hooper, Silvana Burtini)! :rollani:

4,742 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Television coverage in Canada will be meagre. :sigh:

If you subscribe to Digital cable, you can get 9 games live, including all of Canada's matches, on Sportsnet Digital. Very few people have Digital cable.

Otherwise, Sportsnet's regular cable service will have only one of Canada's Group matches live (v. Argentina), with the others on tape delay (v. Germany at 10 p.m. EDT; v. Japan at 7 pm EDT).

Only two of the four QF's will be shown, those on October 2, and they will be on tape delay at 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. (sic) EDT. :yuck:

The Semi-finals will likewise be shown at 10:30 p.m. and 2 a.m. EDT on the night of October 5-6.

The Bronze medal and Gold medal games will be shown live.

We can also see ABC's live coverage of USA v. Sweden and USA v. North Korea.

4,742 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Girls Got Game

By Bob Mackin - contributing writer, Vancouver Courier

For a 20-year-old shouldering the hopes and dreams of Canadian soccer fans, Christine Sinclair is surprisingly relaxed. She pauses to sip from a bottle of water in a North Burnaby cafe, then ponders Saturday's kickoff of the FIFA Women's World Cup in Columbus, Ohio against number-three ranked Germany.

"We've played Germany before, two years ago when our program was just starting to build and we got beaten pretty badly," she says, recalling the 7-1 and 3-0 losses in Germany. "I like to think our team has improved a lot since then. We have the talent, now we have the opportunity to show the world what we can do."

Canada's national women's soccer team once struggled for recognition and results. When it began in 1986, games were few and far between. Players even paid to play for their country. Now Canada's women are ranked 12th in the world and offer this country its best opportunity for success on soccer's world stage. It's a far cry from Canada's lacklustre senior men's team, which rarely plays on home soil, lacks offense and is ranked a dismal 78th-a dozen spots worse than the national team of war-ravaged Iraq.

Canada didn't qualify for the first Women's World Cup in China 12 years ago and was knocked out of the first round with a tie and two losses in both Sweden (1995) and the U.S. (1999). A single victory in the 16-team, Sept. 20 to Oct. 12 tournament would be a major accomplishment. But the team has more ambitious goals. Like winning the championship.

It'll need to finish first or second in Group C with Germany, Argentina (Sept. 24) and Japan (Sept. 27) and then win two consecutive playoff matches to play in the Oct. 12 final in Carson, Calif. No easy task, but Sinclair knows it's possible.

"Look at our attacking," Sinclair says. "We can score goals, we have a number of players who can do it. I wouldn't want to play against us. Defensively, we take no prisoners. We hurt people, to put it mildly."

For dreams to become reality, the Burnaby-native knows she'll need to be at the top of her game.

Vancouver soccer fans saw little of Sinclair this summer. She skipped the Whitecaps W-League season, citing illness, injury and fatigue. Her wisdom teeth were removed in July, and in August, she mourned the death of Clive Charles, her University of Portland coach and mentor.

Perhaps it was the price of success. The fearless five-foot-nine striker nicknamed "Sinky" led the 2002 FIFA Women's Under-19 World Championship tournament with 10 goals in Canada's six games and was named most valuable player. The victorious Americans held her off the scoreboard in the final in Edmonton, but Canadian soccer was still a winner. More than 47,000 people were in Commonwealth Stadium and Sportsnet counted a record 900,000 viewers.

"The support that poured out for us, from one coast of the country to the other, was unbelievable," she says. "To finish second was disappointing, but to realize you're the second best team in the world was nice."

When she returned for her sophomore year at the University of Portland, she guided the Pilots to their first NCAA national title. Her 15th playoff goal in two seasons-the overtime championship winner-tied American superstar Mia Hamm's four-year college record. Her 76 goals in 56 club, college and international games during 2002 garnered FIFA's recognition of her as the world's sixth-best female player of the year.

Soccer may be in her genes. Uncles Brian and Bruce Gant played professionally in the North American Soccer League before Sinclair was born. She started kicking the ball around parents Bill and Sandra Sinclair's home at age four, joined B.C.'s Under-14 All-Stars when she was 11, and debuted with the senior national team at just 16. The Burnaby South secondary graduate has a scholarship and dreams of playing professionally, despite Monday's announced closure of the financially ailing Women's United Soccer Association. This fall, the Life Sciences major has put her studies on hold so she can lead Canada's attack in the Women's World Cup.

"I remember going down to Portland to watch the Women's World Cup [in 1999] and thinking it would be pretty cool to play in one myself, not knowing that it was going to happen four years later. I'm loving every minute of it. I'm getting my education paid for. Hopefully after school I have a career ahead of me [in soccer]. It's something I could never have dreamed of 10 years ago. It's reality now."

Scholarships, professional contracts and a world championship never crossed Geri Donnelly's mind when she was picked to play for Canada's fledgling women's national team in 1986. To wear the maple leaf and play the highest level of soccer was all that mattered.

She played 72 times during a 13-year career as a midfielder, beginning July 9, 1986 when she scored Canada's first two international goals against the United States in a suburban Minneapolis park. She was among a Canadian women's all-star team assembled at a Winnipeg tournament and sent south on a 20-hour bus ride to meet the Americans.

"We didn't even know there was a national team," says Donnelly, who also played basketball and studied at Simon Fraser University. "We were told that if there was going to be a national women's program, we had to be successful. We had three days training together, which was intense training.

We were quite scared and didn't know what to expect."

The game was but a rumour north of the border where Canada's men's team had returned from its only appearance at a World Cup in Mexico-without even scoring a goal.

The women players had to train on their own, buy their own boots-up to four pairs a year-and even pay for airfare to tournaments. The Port Moody Soccer Club, Rotary Club and Safeway raised $1,500 to send Donnelly on a 1987 national team tour of Taiwan.

"We didn't really have a World Cup to look forward to at that time, we just wanted to play at the highest level we could. We struggled with our training, most of us trained individually by ourselves, in the pouring rain or the middle of the night. That's what we did, that was our life."

Donnelly, 37, retired after captaining Canada in the 1999 Women's World Cup. She played for the Vancouver Angels and Vancouver Breakers in the W-League for two seasons, and continues to play recreationally for Surrey United.

A physical education teacher in Surrey, Donnelly also runs a girls-only soccer school. Co-ed camps don't help girls, she says because aggressive boys naturally dominate the ball.

That she found out first-hand, as the only girl who battled for the ball with boys during pick-up games in her native London, England. Things were different when she was eight years old and living in Port Moody after her parents immigrated. There was even a team just for girls.

England is where the first-known organized women's team flourished despite its conservative, male-only soccer establishment.

Dick, Kerr Ladies Football Club began at a Preston factory during World War I and lasted almost half a century. Wartime fundraisers at the home fields of Liverpool and Manchester United drew sellout crowds and the ire of the English Football Association. In 1921, the FA banned Dick, Kerr from England's top stadiums because "football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged."

The team continued to play on smaller, non-FA fields and even sailed across the Atlantic for opposition in 1922. There was no welcome mat in Canada. The Dominion Football Association echoed the English FA stance and wouldn't let the women play domestic teams in this country. Dick, Kerr looked south to the United States, but couldn't find any women to challenge. The team ended up winning three times and tying three times on an eight-game tour against men's teams.

During the 1920s, women's soccer games were documented in Hamilton, Ont., Connecticut, New York and California-even in Alberta's Crowsnest Pass, where teams formed on marital status: married women versus single women. Splitting teams along those lines wasn't unusual, says Ann Hall, author of The Girl and the Game: A History of Women's Sport in Canada. "They were novelty teams more than anything. There was no league."

Unlike softball, basketball and ice hockey, women weren't encouraged to play soccer in communities, schools or universities.

"The key issue was women had to take control of their own sports," Hall says. "They had no interest, as far as I could see, with soccer."

Hall, professor emeritus of physical education at the University of Alberta, says two forces stimulated growth in women's soccer on opposite sides of the border in the 1970s. In the U.S., the federal Title IX legislation mandated funding equity for male and female athletes in 1972. In Canada, sons and daughters of cost-conscious baby boomers were turning to soccer in droves as an alternative to ice hockey.

Initially, girls had to play on boys' teams until "soccer took a very intelligent approach and they clearly and carefully established leagues for girls," she says.

In 1973, there were only three girls soccer clubs across British Columbia. By 1980, there were 317 playing under the B.C. Girls Soccer Association. In 2002, there were more than 307,000 women and girls playing nationally-that's 39 per cent of Canada's 789,000-plus players. In B.C., 42,000 female players were registered. For every female playing hockey-the official national winter sport-there are five others playing soccer.

Like the Americans' 1999 Women's World Cup victory at home in front of 90,000 fans at Pasadena's Rose Bowl, the 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship final in Edmonton was a landmark event in Canadian soccer.

"I was just astounded when I walked into Commonwealth Stadium in 2002 for the women's U-19 final," Hall says "I never believed all these years I would see 47,000 people screaming at a bunch of teenagers playing girls soccer."

The game, however, isn't without its problems.

Hall says women are still in the minority when it comes to coaching, officiating and administration. At the top level, only two of the CSA's 20 directors are women: Surrey's Laurel Pokoyski and Coquitlam's Leeta Sokalski. Canadian universities can't compete with deep-pocketed American colleges and universities, so elite teenage players look across the border to further their skills and education. The best players who found jobs in WUSA may have to look abroad to Europe or Asia after the demise of the world's top women's soccer league. Otherwise, players can jockey for spots on Ottawa, Toronto or Vancouver's teams in the W-League, the semi-pro second division. Few opportunities exist to make a living in the game when playing days are over.

Hall fears the brain drain and glass ceiling could harm or halt the game's growth.

"The sport has become, to a certain extent, 'Canadianized.' But there's still a strong European tradition in the sport. Many of the people involved in the sport come from these kinds of backgrounds where these issues aren't important."

Worries about her post-soccer career led North Vancouver's Silvana Burtini to trade in the light blue uniform of WUSA's Carolina Courage for the dark blue of "Vancouver's finest."

Now a Vancouver cop, Burtini scored the Courage's first goal when WUSA was born in 2001. She earned $35,000 U.S. in her first professional season, but came home to examine her career options. She had a longstanding interest in policing, so she signed up for police academy and retired from WUSA.

Burtini got her Vancouver Police badge last fall, after Canada qualified for the Women's World Cup. She's a rookie of a different sort, defending turf on the Downtown Eastside.

The 34-year-old grew up in Williams Lake playing with boys because there weren't any girls' teams to join until she was 11. It helped her develop skills she may not have otherwise. She went from the B.C. under-18 all-star team to the national team in July 1987 and has been part of the player pool every year except 1996. She drew worldwide attention in 1998 with eight first half goals in a regional Women's World Cup qualifier against Puerto Rico. And she wasn't fully recovered from a bout with chronic fatigue.

Burtini, now a constable with the district two patrol squad, has deftly juggled work with play.

She reported for a mid-August national team training camp in Vancouver at 9:30 a.m. daily after working a 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift. One night's caseload involved breaking up a fight, arresting an intoxicated male and dealing with two female victims of a knifepoint robbery. Burtini was a witness testifying in an impaired driving court case, just hours before she started in Canada's Sept. 4 friendly against Mexico at Swangard Stadium.

"It's been hard to bond with the team and keep the coach happy," she says. "I feel confident I can play any position on the field. I just want to be on the field playing and helping out any way I can."

Policing and playing are both high-pressure, long-hours commitments where teamwork and meshing with different personalities are the keys to success, she says.

When she's not with the national team, she plays with the Vancouver Police women's team. She also trains with the Wesburn under-18 men's team coached by husband Metro Gerela, a top soccer prospect in the 1960s who played pro football in the NFL and CFL.

"When my shots go sailing over the crossbar, you'll know why," she jokes.

Burtini was named to the Women's World Cup roster Sept. 8 and looks forward to her third and final appearance in the tournament. She's hoping to be off the beat until after mid-October's final.

Unlike Burtini, Andrea Neil never tried her chances south of the border in WUSA. She did, however, find a happy medium. The 31-year-old Whitecaps captain and 12-year national team veteran makes a living coaching at Richmond's Total Soccer Systems private soccer school. She's fortunate to have a sympathetic boss, national team scout Bob Birarda. With his blessing, Neil has spent much of the year on the road with the national team.

Neil credits head coach Even Pellerud with rejuvenating both the national team and her career.

Pellerud, coach of Norway's 1995 championship-winning team, was hired to coach Canada after the 1999 Women's World Cup. He successfully lobbied the Canadian Soccer Association to let him run the team independent of the men's program and he gained the necessary support for monthly training camps and international friendlies. The team is ready for the Women's World Cup after winning 10 of this year's 15 exhibition matches.

"The years are becoming better and better at a time I thought I'd be getting near retirement," Neil says. "I thought after the World Cup in 1999 that would be pretty much it for me. When you're having fun and enjoying what you do, the product is better on the field."

Neil grew up playing youth soccer in Kerrisdale and at Prince of Wales secondary, but never fancied herself a world-class player. Instead, badminton was her favourite game. She didn't know Canada even had a national women's soccer program until coaches told her she had star potential. She went with their advice and joined the University of B.C. Thunderbirds women's team and later the national team in 1991.

"Now you get five and six-year-olds who dream of becoming soccer players. For me I happened upon it almost by accident."

It hasn't come without career, education and relationship sacrifices. For now, all that matters is the Women's World Cup.

"I would've liked to go to school longer than my general degree at university; perhaps a lot of my school friends now are married and with kids and have those responsibilities," she says. "I've taken a leave of absence from my job, so income isn't as readily available. But, for me this is the last time in my lifetime I'll be able to do this. I've got the rest of my life to fulfill those other dreams."

4,742 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Women’s World Cup Team Overview
- from Canadasoccer.com

Canadian Women’s World Cup Team Head Coach Even Pellerud announced his 20-player roster for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup in the United States on September 8, 2003

Silvana Burtini, Isabelle Morneau, Andrea Neil and Charmaine Hooper have been selected to their third consecutive World Cup while Sharolta Nonen and Karina LeBlanc are the only other players who have World Cup experience, having played in 1999 in the United States. Morneau was named to the 1995 squad in Sweden but did not play in any games while LeBlanc backed up Nicci Wright in goal in 1999 in the United States.

There are six players from the Under-19 team which won a silver medal at the FIFA Women’s World Championship in 2002: Christine Sinclair, Erin McLeod, Sasha Andrews, Carmelina Moscato, Kara Lang and Brittany Timko.

Others include 18-year-old defender Tanya Dennis who impressed in earning her first two caps against Mexico recently; WUSA defender Sharolta Nonen (who was named to the All WUSA First Team), Randee Hermus and Kristina Kiss who play for Fløya in Norway, 19-year-old Diana Matheson who earned her first cap earlier this year, goalkeeper Taryn Swiatek who played for Canada at the Pan Am Games and striker Rhian Wilkinson who made her debut against the US in April. Christine Latham, the WUSA Rookie of the Year rounds out the squad.


Karina LeBlanc is coming off a fine WUSA season where she was named a finalist for Goalkeeper of the Year and led the league in saves. She was also twice named the WUSA Player of the Week. She had a stellar career at the University of Nebraska and has played two seasons with the Boston Breakers.

Erin McLeod shot to prominence with a strong showing at the FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Championships in Edmonton in 2002 where she helped Canada win a silver medal. McLeod was named to the tournament all-star team and became a fan favourite in Edmonton with her hairdos.

Taryn Swiatek attended the University of Calgary and has played two seasons with the Ottawa Fury of the W-League. She was Canada’s No. 1 goalkeeper at the 2003 Pan Am Games and led Canada to a silver medal.


Sharolta Nonen is the experienced defender, having played at the 1999 World Cup. She is also coming off her finest WUSA season, being named to the All WUSA First Team in her third season with the Atlanta Beat. She has been capped 45 times for Canada and has scored one goal.

Tanya Dennis is the newcomer to this group. Only capped three times, Dennis impressed head coach Even Pellerud in the few games she has played to earn a berth on the World Cup squad. She is extremely fast and is a regular on the Canadian under-19 team. She has played at right back and in the middle of the back four for Pellerud.

Silvana Burtini has been converted from her normal position at striker and has played at left back and on the left side of midfield for Pellerud in recent games. Burtini has had an exemplary international career, scoring 38 goals in 74 games, third all-time in goals and caps. She once scored eight goals against Puerto Rico in 1998. She played one season in WUSA with Carolina and is now a police officer in British Columbia.

Sasha Andrews played a prominent role with the Under-19 team in 2002 and scored the winning penalty against Brazil in the FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Championship semi-final last year. A native of Edmonton, Andrews is one of Canada’s more dominant players in the air and has recently shown an eye for goal, scoring a goal in each of the lopsided wins over Mexico.

The wild card in the defence is captain Charmaine Hooper, only because she has started the last three games in this position and the Canadian team is loaded up front. Hooper had never played defence in her first 98 appearances for Canada but that all changed in Edmonton on August 31, 2003 when Pellerud started her in the middle of the back four. She then moved back up to striker. It remains to be seen where she will play in the World Cup.

Brittany Timko could see some playing time at fullback or in the middle of the park. Timko became a regular member of Pellerud’s squad following the FIFA Under-19 tournament where her fierce tackling and solid play earned her many admirers. She had a very strong Gold Cup in 2002 and Pellerud will no doubt rely on her versatility.

Randee Hermus made her debut with the World Cup team at the same time as Pellerud, making her first appearance at the 2000 Algarve Cup. She has played in the majority of Pellerud’s games as head coach of the Canadian team, earning 44 caps in less than four years. She scored game winning goals in both 2-1 victories over Brazil in July. She usually plays at left back but can also play in central defence. She is still recovering from a stress fracture in her leg but will stay with the team throughout the tournament in the hopes of taking part at some point in the competition.

The veteran of the back four is Isabelle Morneau, who is appearing in her third straight World Cup. She was named to the 1995 squad and did not play but was a regular of the 1999 team. Morneau has recovered from a bad shoulder which caused her to miss the 2002 Gold Cup and part of the 2003 Algarve Cup. She had surgery in the spring and is now fit to bring her steadying influence to the left side of the defence.

Linda Consolante is a relative newcomer to the team, having earned only three caps since making her debut against Brazil on July 20. She is predominantly a centre back and plays with the Ottawa Fury of the W-League.


Pellerud has been playing a 4-3-3 in recent games with Andrea Neil and Kristina Kiss and Diana Matheson likely to figure in the middle of the park with Timko, Carmelina Moscato and Burtini all able to play there as well.

Andrea Neil is one of the team’s leaders and she will rely on the experience of two previous World Cups as she drives the team to success in the 2003 tournament. Neil is a player who commands respect and her 18 goals in 87 appearances is a testament to her abilities. She is a 13-year veteran and is second only to Hooper in appearances for Canada. She is a ball winner in the midfield and her determination can be inspiring.

Diana Matheson burst on to the national team scene in 2003 and hasn’t stopped. She has earned a remarkable 13 caps in less than seven months as a member of the national team after impressing Pellerud at a National training Centre. Matheson may stand only 5’2 but she has the heart of a lion and is extremely tenacious. She has been a revelation in recent months and her vision for one with so few caps is striking.

Kristina Kiss :kiss: has become a player to be reckoned with and has built up a solid reputation as a free kick specialist. Hampered by injuries in the past year, Kiss has emerged as one of Pellerud’s regular starters in the buildup to the World Cup. She is a threat from anywhere around the 18 yard box and is one of the team’s better players at splitting defences with her passing and vision.

Carmelina Moscato is recovering from stress fractures in both feet which caused her to miss several preparation games this summer. Moscato played a starring role during the FIFA Under-19 championship last summer and followed that success by getting a lot of playing time in the 2002 Gold Cup.


It’s probably safe to say that Pellerud has an abundance of riches up front. His strikers are probably the envy of every coach at the World Cup. Even if Hooper (who has scored more goals for Canada than any other player – 58) plays in defence, Pellerud can throw Christine Sinclair, Christine Latham, Kara Lang and impressive rookie Rhian Wilkinson at the world’s best defences.

Christine Sinclair had an almost impossible to believe year in 2002. She was the MVP at the FIFA Under-19 women’s World Championship after scoring a tournament-leading 10 goals in six games and then went on to score the golden goal in the NCAA championship game, winning the University of Portland its first national title. She was named the Globe and Mail’s Top 25 influential sports figures in December of that year. She reached 40 goals in an astonishing 49 games earlier this year and has fully recovered from a bout of mono which sidelined her for two months.

Christine Latham returned to the national team in 2003 after not playing in 2002 to focus on her scholastic studies. She ended an impressive career at the University of Nebraska by being signed as a discover player by the San Diego spirit and went on to be named the league’s Rookie of the Year in 2003. Her aggressive style combined with her touch around goal makes her a player to be feared.

Kara Lang burst onto the national team in 2002 at the Algarve Cup as a 15-year-old and scored goals in bundles. She hasn’t stopped scoring and has a tendency for the spectacular. Despite her youth, Lang possesses one of the strongest legs in the game and remarkably can hit with power from distance with either foot. She has played wide and up front for both Under-19 team head coach Ian Bridge and Pellerud and has remarkable confidence considering her age. She can be a menace to defenders when she runs at them.

Rhian Wilkinson earned her first start for Canada in their last friendly prior to the World Cup on September 14 against Australia and caused a stir. Her strong runs off the ball and her deceiving pace have given Pellerud yet another option up front. Wilkinson has already managed three goals in her first six appearances and seems destined for a bright future.

"We have a strong roster with a good balance of youth and experience," said Pellerud. "We have also a good mixture of speed, skill and leadership. It’s a very flexible and versatile roster which can be changed to play certain formations. We are ready to play the way that is needed depending on the opponent. It’s a team with an excellent fitness level and a healthy level of confidence."

The Canadians are coming off a 2-0 win over Australia on September 14 and consecutive victories over Mexico (by a combined 14-0). Canada has registered three consecutive shutouts and have not lost in 10 games, dating back to a last-minute friendly against the United States on April 26. Since then they have won nine games (win over Australia, two-game series sweeps over Mexico - twice, England and Brazil) and drawn once (1-1 against Ghana on August 16).

Canada has played six World Cup games, losing four and drawing twice.

4,742 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
New mood in Canadian women's soccer
By Stephen Brunt - Globe and Mail Sept. 20

Columbus, Ohio — Even Pellerud drops the softball question in its tracks.

Does he like the idea of meeting Germany first, the coach of Canada's Women's World Cup soccer team is asked. Is it better to start against someone who's supposed to beat you and move on from there?

He says something about facing rain and sleet and snow (not hurricanes, though the reference would have currency hereabouts) to indicate that you don't have a choice about these things. And then he cuts to the chase.

"I don't waste any energy on who is No. 1, 2 or 3," he says.

To suggest that Canada's attitude is a little different this time around might be just a bit of an understatement.

Eight years ago, in their first World Cup, the women bowed out meekly with two draws and two losses. Four years ago, though, there were high expectations surrounding the team, confidence was fragile, and the level of internal dissent high. The coach then, Neil Turnbull, had already lost the hearts and minds of his key players before the tournament began. After a nervous draw against Japan in the opener, Canada was smoked by Norway and Russia in humiliating fashion, leaving every finger pointing somewhere, with plenty of blame to go around.

"It left a lot of bitter feelings with everyone to see how we went out," says Karina LeBlanc, a backup keeper on that team and Canada's starter this year.

But my, there is certainly a new look in their eyes now, a change that begins with the man at the top, who led Norway to the World Cup in 1995. Pellerud was hired after the flop of 1999, as the first full-time coach for the Canadian women, and his arrival signalled a new commitment to the program. He then set in motion a radical rebuilding process that left only six players in this tournament who were around four years ago.

Pellerud also arrived in Canada with a tactical plan. His teams would feature aggressive defensive play, quickly closing distance on the opposition, and an attacking philosophy up front, with the strikers fed long balls, then heading for the goal with speed and force. Initially, it was a rough transition, and the talent wasn't necessarily there to play his kind of game. (During one stretch in 2001, the team lost five matches in a row by an aggregate score of 29-5.)

But an infusion of strong young players, many of whom were featured on Canada's surprising side from the world under-19 championship in Edmonton last year, combined with a smattering of veterans, have rounded brilliantly into shape. The veterans include Charmaine Hooper, who had vowed never to play for Canada again after the 1999 fiasco.

"I'm not looking at birth certificates," Pellerud says. "You're never too old, you're never too young."

The young players are fit, mostly big and strong, and they certainly aren't lacking in confidence, having succeeded on the U.S. college level, or in the recently deceased Women's United Soccer Association, the American professional league. Though Canada is rated 12th in the world by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, they're on a 10-match undefeated streak and are considered by those who know to be one of this tournament's elite teams.

"They're rated 12th in the world, but I think they are one of the best teams in the world," says Germany's coach, Tina Theune-Meyer. "They can beat anyone . . . They are strong. They have good organization. And they are dangerous up front."

Injuries have forced Pellerud to alter his plans a little. Hooper, normally a striker or attacking midfielder, played her first match ever as a central defender against Australia last week, and will probably be there for the duration of the tournament.

And Germany represents a huge challenge. Ranked third in the world, they are really considered one of the three best sides right now, along with the United States and China. The Germans were bolstered in the past two weeks by the return of midfielder Maren Meinert and defender Steffi Jones, both veterans who had retired from the national team in 2001, but were persuaded to give it one more shot.

Germany has never lost to Canada — they won their last match 7-1 in June, 2001. And Canada has never won a match in the World Cup.

So this will be the rain, the snow, and the sleet all at once. Then comes what should be an easy match against Argentina, the lowest-rated team in the tournament, on Wednesday night, followed by a game against Japan on Thursday. The top two teams in the group advance. The second-place side probably gets China in the round of eight, and just reaching that point would represent a great leap forward for Canada.

But you get the feeling that neither Pellerud nor his players is thinking about moral victories.

"To be able to play as we have played, and not to be overwhelmed by the importance [of the tournament] is the key," he says. "We have to trust that we are good enough. Trust in our abilities. I think they really do. I think their confidence level is healthy. Not overconfident. Healthy. Balanced."

4,742 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Loss to Germany gives Canadian wake-up call

By Stephen Brunt, Globe and Mail, Sep. 22, 2003

Columbus, Ohio — The morning after, everything was swell. Canada's women's World Cup soccer team was summoned to an early workout in suburban Columbus, but it was more a photo session than a punishment detail.

It was a good thing they'd played Germany first, the players agreed. It was good to have a wake-up call, to have a little 4-1 lesson in perspective applied right off the top.

"Realistically, yes, nobody is surprised by losing to Germany," said Even Pellerud, who may be the most straightforward person to hold a head coaching job in any sport in North America. "I didn't like the way we under performed. But it would be worse to lose 4-1 if we had our normal game."

All of which is fine and dandy and, to a degree true — Canada could have played better, and the result certainly isn't fatal. The script, though, is unfortunately a familiar one for anyone who has followed the Canadian women's fortunes in this the game's greatest showcase.

Twice previously Canada has played in the women's World Cup. Twice they arrived with high expectations. Twice they stumbled right out of the gate, never to recover.

In 1995, it was a disappointing 3-2 loss to England to begin a preliminary round that concluded with a 7-0 thumping by Norway. In 1999, it was a nervous 1-1 draw with Japan in a match that ought to have been a sure victory, setting the stage for complete collapse in the final two first-round games by an aggregate score of 11-2.

That kind of total systems failure shouldn't happen here. In their next match, on Wednesday night, they play the woefully weak Argentine team that lost 6-0 to Japan on Saturday. Canada's first ever World Cup win, for women or men, ought to be all but guaranteed — and since goal differential is a tiebreaker, providing a motive to run up the score, the over-under on the margin of victory ought to be in double digits. Then, on to next Saturday's match against Japan in Foxboro, Mass., which will almost certainly decide which team advances to the final eight (where they should face the powerful team from China) and which goes home early.

That's exactly how the group was handicapped before this World Cup began. But the Canadians and their supporters had quietly begun to believe perhaps a happy surprise was in the cards. On the heels of a 10-game undefeated streak, and having shown the ability to play tough against the defending champion Americans, there was the possibility Canada might be able to crack the four or five teams that represent the sport's elite.

Saturday night's match, though, suggested strongly there's still a significant gap in class between that top tier and the rest.

Canada actually opened the scoring with a shocker in the fourth minute, when Christine Sinclair, 20, was left unmarked to head home a long free kick from Kristina Kiss. (The 41st goal in 52 matches for Canada for the striker). That early score was a bad thing, Pellerud said later, because it caused his young team to relax too much, to feel a false sense of security. The Germans, led by their magnificent midfielder Maren Meinert, took control midway through the half, and pressed for the equalizer — which finally came in the 39th minute, when Charmaine Hooper was called for a hand ball in the area after she couldn't get out of the way of a deflection by the terrific keeper Karina LeBlanc. (Some of the Canadian players disputed the call, but only mildly.) Bettina Wiegmann converted the ensuing penalty, and Canada visibly slumped.

During the break, the German coach Tina Theune-Meyer told her team: "Canada is more afraid [of losing] than you are."

She was right. Germany took the lead two minutes into the second half on Stefanie Gottschlich header following a defensive breakdown, and then closed the match out with late goals from Birgit Prinz and Kerstin Garefrekes (the latter in stoppage time). Canada pushed the play for 15 minutes in the middle of the half, and came close to tying the game at two. But for the most part, the Germans controlled the ball in the midfield, matched Canada's physical strength, and were the more poised, confident side.

"We lost to a better team [Saturday]," Pellerud said.

And now they face a much worse team, against which Canada's longball, power game and pressure defending ought to be successful, leaving Sinclair and company all kinds of opportunities to pad their statistics.

But the flaws are obvious as well: An injury-weakened backline that will be vulnerable against the better teams; an inability to control the ball in the midfield, putting extra pressure on those same defenders; the kind of emotional swings that come naturally to a group with only six players who've ever experienced the World Cup before. Canada's young stars are big enough, strong enough, and good enough to overwhelm some of their opposition here. But maybe it will be 2007 before the real breakthrough takes place.

In the meantime, it's important to remember sometimes you have to take a little step back before a great leap forward. And even a single victory here, and especially a trip to the next round, represents progress.

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Discussion Starter #10
"We don't fear anybody," says Hooper

(from the Globe and Mail)

Portland, Ore. — The spirit of the national women's soccer team has never been stronger as the swashbuckling Canadians boldly prepare for another big game.

Riding the crest of an unexpected three-game win streak at the Women's World Cup, the surging Canadians will face one more test of courage and endurance tomorrow night in a semi-final against Sweden.

Canada was ranked No.12 in the world before the tournament, and reaching the final four is an accomplishment that hasn't gone unnoticed in the buoyant Canadian locker room.

“We just didn't want to leave the tournament,” forward Christine Sinclair of Burnaby, B.C., said yesterday. “You hope to get this far, but it's just an amazing feeling when it happens. We're confident. We played Sweden in March and tied them. Bring on any team. We're ready. We're a young team with a lot to prove.”

There's little pressure on the Canadians, because they weren't supposed to last this long. There's far more at stake in the other semi-final, because the host Americans are ranked No.1, while the Germans have scored an amazing total of 20 goals in four games.

Once again, the Canadians to watch will be goalkeeper Taryn Swiatek of Calgary, who has risen from third-string to starter, roaming central defender Charmaine Hooper of Ottawa and swift-striking Sinclair.

“We have many players on the right side of the ball right now,” said Canadian coach Even Pellerud, the 50-year-old Norwegian under contract with Soccer Canada through 2008. “It's not easy to score against a team with a deep defence.”

The Canadian women appreciate their accomplishments — consecutive wins over Argentina, Japan and China, the latter 1-0 in the quarter-finals on an early goal by Hooper.

The win over China drew 320,000 viewers on Rogers Sportsnet, making it the top-rated match of the tournament in Canada. Last Saturday's 3-1 win over Japan drew 292,000 to a tape-delayed broadcast.

The Canadian players hope to become symbols for young Canadians.

“It's great to have young girls grow up to have role models and Canadian examples,” midfielder Andrea Neal of Vancouver said. “Certainly a few years ago, Canadians wanted to be like [American] Mia Hamm, and that was kind of sad as a Canadian soccer player.

“Now, Canadian soccer players want to be Brittany Timkos and Charmaine Hooper. [Hooper's] a great example of a soccer player by the way she leads.”

The Canadian team's depth will be tested again after losing another starter. Left fullback Isabelle Morneau of Greenfield Place, Que., suffered a leg injury against the Chinese. Silvana Burtini of Williams Lake, B.C., whose experience is mostly at forward, replaced Morneau.

“We've lost several defenders to injuries over the last couple of months, so I was asked to move to defence,” Hooper said. “The good thing is I can still go up front [on corner kicks] for a little offensive punch.

“We have 100-per-cent fighting spirit and we're going to go into that game with the same philosophy. We have to play just as good, or better, than the China game in order to beat Sweden. We have good speed and need to use it to advantage again.”

Asked which players Canada fears most on the Swedish team, Hooper showed the growing confidence of the Canadian women.

“We don't fear anybody,” she said. “I know that sounds a little bit cocky, but it's important to go into a game feeling confident and knowing what got us to this point in the tournament is our fighting determination and playing with reckless abandon.

“In the past, we had never accomplished anything with this program. Over the last four years, we've been moving up the scale, slowly but surely. The win over China was a huge step for women's soccer in Canada.

“Nobody ever really looked at Canada as a powerhouse or a team to be successful. Younger girls in Canada see us as a dream, and now they may dream to be part of this.”

Hooper, 35, probably is in her final World Cup tournament. Her abrasiveness is catching, and now the Canadians believe more than ever that sometimes dreams do come true.

“Millions of people at home are supporting us unbelievably,” she added.

“It's an awesome feeling. We can't turn back now.”

4,742 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
This man is an absolute genius!

How do I know?

Because he agrees with everything I say. :strong: ;)
From the Globe and Mail, October 7, 2003:


Until this past week, Canada qualifying for a World Cup soccer final -- men's, women's or whatever -- was an event that fans of the sport could feel reasonably certain would never take place in their lifetimes. Had it happened, any sense of perspective would have been swallowed up in the euphoria -- and that would have been just fine.

Reaching the consolation final is still pretty darned fabulous for the Canadian women, who will meet the broken-hearted Americans in Carson, Calif., this weekend with third place on the line. They deserve all of the accolades that have come their way.

But falling that one step short at least means that there can be talk not just of how far this team has come, but also of how far it still has to go. In the 2-1 loss to Sweden in the semi-finals on Sunday, there was plenty of evidence of both.

Obviously, this is a resilient, mentally tough bunch that believes in itself and in its coach, Even Pellerud, and that has a nice mix of youthful self-confidence and veteran savvy.

They were shaken after losing to Germany 4-1 in their first game of the tournament -- not understanding then that the Germans are pretty clearly the best team in the world right now -- and were weakened defensively by a series of injuries. But gradually, the women righted themselves, coming from behind to beat Japan in the game that put them through to the quarter-finals and then upsetting China (a side in obvious decline) to reach the final four.

That lack of quit will help get the women past a lot of hurdles. So will their strength and power, the great skills of Christine Sinclair and Christine Latham up front and the still-developing talents of 16-year-old Kara Lang. The latter had her best moments of the tournament against Sweden, and her free-kick goal was the closest thing to a Roberto Carlos strike that you're likely to see in the women's game.

Canada right now can outwork a lot of other teams and it can simply steamroll smaller sides with middling skills, and as long as the goalkeeping holds up, it's at worst a live underdog against anyone in the world.

But that shouldn't obscure the fact that Sweden deserved to win and that they overall outskilled Canada by a pretty wide margin.

Also, once the Swedes broke through and scored the tying goal the Canadian women had no way of responding. Defeat, at that point, was inevitable.

In putting this team together over the past 3½ years, Pellerud has clearly made choices designed to take advantage of the talent available to him and to fast-track it into contention. He may well have already been inclined to play the kind of ugly, long-ball game that won him a World Cup with Norway in 1995, but ,in any case, Pellerud decided that it was better to win games now and worry about the fine points down the road.

Today, it's hard to argue with that approach -- especially when comparisons are drawn with the Canadian men, who are floundering, coachless and hopeless.

The problem for Canada is that however sweet this moment is, the women's game isn't standing still. That was made obvious not just by the fact that the United States isn't going to win this World Cup, but by the flair shown by sides such as Brazil, and even Ghana, which aren't ready yet, but which will be a force down the road. This isn't women's hockey -- there are already a half-dozen legitimately competitive countries at the elite level, and that pool is rapidly getting deeper.

Whether it's men or women, the best soccer teams work through the midfield, passing the ball with precision, opening up opposing defences, logically building to an attack, or striking quickly and cleverly, as the Swedes did on their first goal on Sunday.

Canada does none of that right now
, and the strategic brains of the team, Charmaine Hooper, who spent most of the tournament filling in as a defender, has probably played in her final World Cup. Her successor will have to emerge over the next four years. Midfield talent will have to develop to complement Lang, Latham and Sinclair. Canada will have to learn to play a smarter, better, more sophisticated game, or risk being left behind.

That's a challenge, but it's a lot more palatable than the one Canada faced four years back, when it finished in 12th place, the coach was about to be fired and the team was in open revolt.

Again, time for perspective: whatever the flaws, whatever the stylistic issues for Canadian soccer, life's never been better than it is right now.

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Discussion Starter #12
Oct. 11, 2003.

Canadian soccer team gripes about size of bonus
World Cup women getting only $9,500

CARSON, Calif.—The Canadian Soccer Association is paying each member of the national women's team around $9,500 for reaching the final four of the World Cup, but that doesn't satisfy captain Charmaine Hooper.

"I should say it's disappointing," Hooper said yesterday on the eve of Canada's third-place game against the United States.

"It goes to show how the CSA sees us and how we are valued by the CSA. At the same time, I can't blame the CSA fully. I think FIFA is also to blame."

FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, does not offer cash prizes at the women's World Cup. At the last men's World Cup, teams earned millions of dollars.

FIFA officials have said they will consider offering money at the next women's World Cup. It's something Hooper, who is a member of the FIFA players committee, plans to press for.

"When you look at what FIFA pays the men for qualifying, it really makes people look bad. It doesn't make sense why FIFA does not give any money towards women's soccer. There is such as thing as equal pay for equal work."

A U.S. team official said the American women will earn $22,500 (U.S.) for playing in today's third-place game (3:30 p.m., Sportsnet). A victory will add another $2,500.

Kevan Pipe, the CSA's chief operating officer, said his organization had an $11 million operating budget this year compared to $60 million (U.S.) for the Americans.

"We'd love to," pay the players more, Pipe said. "You have to take things into perspective. We don't have the same financial tools as does U.S. Soccer."

Each national team member on Canada's World Cup roster received $3,000. There was a $3,000 bonus for advancing to the quarter-finals and 3,500 more for playing in the final four.

Winning the tournament would have earned the players around $21,500 each, while losing the final would have netted $18,500. Canadian players had threatened to boycott the World Cup qualifying tournament until a dispute over payment was settled.

"We are always investing money into our program," said Pipe, who estimated the tournament will cost the CSA $100,000. "We are not here to generate profits. There will be long-term impacts."

National team coach Even Pellerud, who guided Norway's women to the 1995 World Cup championship, said the Canadian women could be paid more.

"I think the Canadian bonus system is pretty good," he said.

"Is it good enough? Definitely not if you compare what these players do for their country, the kind of sacrifices they do. Of course they don't get enough."


4,742 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Canadian reserve goalkeeper Erin McLeod, who warmed the bench for the whole of the World Cup, wrote the following summary of the tournament from the Canadian players' point of view. I stole it from Canadasoccer.com:

Thursday, October 16, 2003

I was asked to do a summary of the 2003 USA Women's World Cup in about three paragraphs. I accepted the offer because I feel so proud and honoured that I was even a part of the Canadian National team, but now I have realized how difficult this experience is to put into words.

Our first game was against Germany, the World Champions. Going into this game we knew they were ranked about number one in the world, no pressure right? We ended up losing 4-1 but no one on the team thought we played anywhere near our potential.

We then went on to play Argentina and were lucky to come out with a win, but once again we were no where near how good we have been in the past. To be honest, I was worried. Here was a team with the capability to go all the way and we were struggling. My team-mates almost seemed like strangers and something needed to change; we needed to get our fire back.

We then went on to have several player meetings where everyone had the chance to voice their opinions on why we were not doing too well. Andrea Neil slightly altered a team bonding activity from Amber Allen which left the team with this new feeling of togetherness. We realized that every time we stepped onto the field we were playing not to lose, but now we wanted to play to win.

Our next game was against Japan, our turning point in the tournament. There was this buzz in the air for the whole game, and for some reason I knew everything was going to work out for us. We had already made history by beating Argentina, but I think the first time any of us really felt proud of how we did was after Japan. Now we were off to the quarter-finals, in a new location and a new team.

China is known as one of the strongest teams in the world. We went into this game knowing that no one expected us to win. It was a battle; I have never seen so many individuals work so hard together, it was brilliant. All of us on the bench were screaming at the top of our lungs as we watched the final seconds disappear; we were going to play Sweden...

I think this game (against Sweden) was probably the most heartbreaking of the whole tournament. We were eleven minutes away from going to the gold medal game and we could almost taste it, then everything seemed to go wrong. The bus ride home that night was dead silent, there was really nothing anyone could have said to make the loss any easier to swallow.

With a week's rest the team's spirits rose up again and we were eager to play the Americans.

The Americans always give us a good battle. Their entire line up is full of world famous females. Even though I hate to admit it, their game is pretty to watch and our game against them wasn't. The game could have gone either way and there were so many chances for both teams as no one was giving up. When Milbret scored the third goal against us, this disgusting feeling of defeat sat in the bottom of my stomach; we had lost to the Americans again. We didn’t go down without a fight and at the end of the game most of us knew that this is just the beginning of Canada's journey. Most of us are pretty young and all of us will remember this feeling. We have a lot of unfinished business to take care of.

We came fourth, and fourth in the world isn't all that bad! We now look forward to Olympic qualifying where we hope to once again prove to the world how strong we are. I guess what amazes me most after this experience is the amount of support we have received along the journey. I will never forget the game against China when all through the stands in Portland there were Canadian flags everywhere. It is moments like those that I feel so proud to be Canadian and so fortunate to be able to play with the maple leaf on my jersey.

Erin McLeod
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