Canada wins 4-nation tournament in Brazil

CONCACAF Soccer Update   By Aldwyn McGill
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Carolina Morace resign as Canada’s Coach

The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) announced that Carolina Morace has tendered her resignation as coach of Canada Women’s team. The CSA also accepted the resignations of her staff.

 Morace was hired in February 2009 to coach the U-20 and Women’s team. In that time she improved the team and Canada Women’s ranking from 13th to sixth in the World Cup. Canada women had won three of four tournaments and was coming together as a unit.

However, Canada was favoured to advance beyond the Group stage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup but the wheels fell off in Germany at some point during the group stage.

There is no reason to doubt that the wreck occurred at Bochum stadium where Canada suffered a humiliating 4-0 loss to a spirited France team in its second match.

This was after coming off a 2-1 opening day loss to host Germany in which Canada’s captain and team leader Christine Sinclair suffered a broken nose and had to leave the match momentarily.

The agony continued for Canucks fans when the team lost 1-0 in its third and final match to Nigeria with last place in the group at stake and a chance to salvage some pride.  To be continued …….Stay Tuned!  

Canada hit rock bottom after Nigeria loss

 Canada sank to the bottom of Group A standings after its 1-0 loss to Nigeria at Dresden stadium. Led by captain Christine Sinclair wearing a fitted face mask Canada was dealt a deadly blow at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany.

The blow came in the 73rd minute in the form of a late winner by Nigeria’s Perpetua Nkwocha. Unfortunately it was back to heartbreaker hotel for Canada women who fought desperately to make up for what turned out to be a disappointing experience.

It included a 10-minute power black out which in hindsight may have favoured Nigeria which managed to score the winning goal shortly after the stoppage. Nigeria went on to win the match and in turn registered its first win in the WWC since 1999.

I am convinced that coach Morace error at the WWC in Germany was in her choice of her starting line up and her reluctance to rotate her goalkeepers. I am aware that Morace has had some success with Erin McLeod as her starter but the more experienced Karina LeBlanc should have played in at least one of the two opening matches.

No one is saying that the results of the games would have been any different but a coach is supposed to give his or her team the best chance of winning via starting line-ups and substitutions. Starting Le Blanc in the last game after Canada was eliminated was of little or no consequence.

Maybe coach Morace felt that things could not have gotten any worst after Germany match, but there were telling signs in the goalkeeper warm-ups (especially) before the France game. But by then it was too late to change the starting line-up barring injury.

Don’t get me wrong I think McLeod can be the goalkeeper of the future and Morace has worked wonders in turning around a respectable but stagnated Canada Women’s soccer program but I call it the way I see it. Goalkeeper Le Blanc should have started in one of the two opening matches. This is about the last means of defense to a Canada team that was outscored 7-1.

Canada defeat Netherlands to win back to back Cyprus Cup               Canada Women is on track to make some noise at the upcoming World Cup in Germany after defeating Netherlands 2-1 to win back to back Cyprus Women’s Cup Championships and its third Cyprus Women’s Cup title in four years. Emily Zurrer scored the winner in the first period of extra time to allow Canada to lift the trophy and Netherlands the tournament runner-up.

Canada good run of form in preparation for the FIFA Women’s World Cup has been nothing less than impressive and one can only hope that Coach Carolina Morace is holding back some of her major moves for the big clash against host Germany in the W-C opener.

Canada wins 2011 Cyprus Women’s Cup

Canada won 2:1 after extra time to clinch its third Cyprus Women’s Cup title in four years. Emily Zurrer scored in the first period of extra time to give Canada a lead that it would not concede against tournament runner-up Netherlands. The Wednesday 9 March victory was played at Tassos Marcou Stadium in Paralimni, Cyprus in front of the players and staff from the 10 other teams in the competition.

Canada previously won the title in 2008 and 2010, with a runner-up finish in 2009. Netherlands had previously finished as high as third place, but was taking part in its first women’s final. The victory was Canada’s fifth consecutive win in 2011 and improved the team’s season record to six wins and one loss.

Forward Jonelle Filigno scored the opening goal in the 20th minute on a Dutch defensive miscue which, in fairness, was only a misplay because of the tough windy conditions. The Dutch were holding possession in the back end when a pass overshot its target and Filigno swooped in to intercept the ball. Filigno easily beat the goalkeeper Loes Geurts who had no chance on the play.

Netherlands leveled the score in the 40th minute on a run up by left back Claudia van den Heiligenberg, who was starting her second-straight match after replacing injured Petra Hogewoning in the starting XI. Van den Heiligenberg ran the ball up the left side before passing it back to Kirsten van de Ven above the box. Van den Heiligenberg then quickly repositioned herself at the top of the box adjacent to the defensive line, waiting to explode past the defence after van de Ven’s pass was made. In the box and alone, van den Heiligenberg beat McLeod to even the score 1-1.

In the second half, Canada played better, but no longer had the wind to its advantage. Netherlands also remained hungry with an eye on a first-ever Cyprus Cup trophy.

“We played better, but the wind was against us, so it was difficult to be precise with our passing,” said Canadian national head coach Carolina Morace.

In the first half, Canada won three corner kicks while Netherlands won two. In between the goals, Canada had chances with a dangerous free kick by Christine Sinclair (too much wind sailed the shot high) and a hard shot by Melissa Tancredi (with a good save by Geurts). In the second half, there were far fewer chances and both defences remained resolute.

The best chance came in the 89th minute for Netherlands. Breaking the defensive line and penetrating the box, the Dutch made a quick pass into the middle, but then fired a glorious chance wide of the net. Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod was hurt on the play and thus was replaced by Stephanie Labbé. Coach Morace had nothing to lose in taking precaution because she knew she had two excellent goalkeepers on the bench.

“It was nothing serious, but we have three very good goalkeepers,” said Morace. “Labbé went in and she did very well.”

Labbé was indeed terrific in relief in extra time, especially on one hard shot by striker Manon Melis after the Dutch were down 0-1. Her counterpart Geurts was also sharp at the other end with a big save off Sophie Schmidt in the 99th minute.

It was that save off Schmidt, however, that led to the Canadian corner kick that resulted in the Zurrer goal. Diana Matheson fired the kick into the box and Zurrer first headed, then kicked the ball into the net. Zurrer’s teammates were all by her side to congratulate her on her second goal of the competition.

For the championship final, Canada’s starting XI featured Erin McLeod in goal, Marie-Eve Nault, Rhian Wilkinson, Emily Zurrer and Candace Chapman at defence, and Melissa Tancredi, Diana Matheson, Sophie Schmidt, Jonelle Filigno, Kaylyn Kyle and Christine Sinclair from the midfield up through to the attack.

Coach Morace made two substitutions in the second half and four more after the Zurrer goal. Kyle, McLeod, Tancredi, Filigno, Schmidt and Sinclair were replaced by Desiree Scott (82nd minute), Stephanie Labbé (89′), Carmelina Moscato (103′), Christina Julien (107′), Robyn Gayle (111′), and Chelsea Stewart (119′).

Netherlands’ starting Xi featured Loes Geurts in goal, Claudia van den Heiligenberg at left back, Daphne Koster and Mandy Van den Berg at centre back, Dyanne Bito at right back, and Anouk Hoogendijk, Sylvia Smit, Sherida Spitse, Manon Melis and Kirsten van de Ven from the midfield up through to the attack.

Coach Roger Reijners made four substitutions, one in the second half and three in extra time. He replaced Hoogendijk, Slegers, van den Berg and van de Ven with Marije Brummel (82′), Chantal de Ridder (91′), Marlous Pieëte (111′) and Leonne Stentler (111′).

Canada, whose title sponsor is Winners and presenting sponsor is Teck, has won all eight matches in the last two editions of the Cyprus Women’s Cup. In four matches this year, Canada scored six goals and conceded just one. Today’s victory was also Canada’s second 2:1 victory over Netherlands in Cyprus Women’s Cup competition, having previously beat the Dutch side in group play of the 2009 competition.

Canada Women Soccer on show

Women soccer is taking Canada into waters that have only been reserved for the strong at heart. With the focus on this summer’s FIFA women’s World Cup in Germany, Canada women’s has made some waves in their preparation for the event.

While the team is having success on the field there seems to be challenges off the field which could change things in a hurry if the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) is not careful. The CSA should try and keep the upward trend of the Canadian women before the team hit a snag.

Canada’s Women team is currently playing in the Cyprus Cup tournament and has reached the final after putting together a three game winning streak. But just days before the tournament the team was planning a boycott based on a conflict with the CSA which also included their coach.

The conflict was said to be surrounding the future of head coach Carolina Morace as well as the levels of their compensation packages compared to the male counterparts. Coach Morace had improved the team showing and her intention to quit was not well received by her players.

Her tentative resignation is for after the Women’s World Cup in Germany and it was said to be based on differences of opinion with CSA leadership. However, Canada women’s team is in the final against Netherlands and everyone expects the team to continue its serious preparation.

Wednesday Cyprus Cup final will be played at Tassos Marcou Stadium in Paralimni, Cyprus, and if the players perform to their level of expectation Canada should have a successful defense of its title.

There are reports that the Canada players have continued with their legal proceedings for remuneration comparable to its men’s team which will mean that winning three of its last four tournaments and the Cyprus Cup against Netherlands may not be their ultimate focus.

However, a loss against Netherlands could bring into play a lot of excuses and which is not a good scenario for any team heading to open a World Cup against Germany, the defending champions as the host.

Canada’s 2-0 win over England was its third straight win at the Cyprus Cup tournament, which gives the Canuck women a 5-1 (win-loss) record in its past six games with their only loss coming at the hands of USA in the semi final of the 2011 Yongchuan Cup Four-Nation Women’s Tournament in China.

The Canada-Netherlands final, will be the second meeting between Canada and Netherlands in a Cyprus Women’s Cup competitive match. Canada won the first meeting 2:1 two years ago with captain Christine Sinclair providing the scoring.

But Netherlands was missing their top scorer back then and she will be in the line up this time. Both teams will be at full strength for the championship final which is expected to be a classic. Netherlands has outscored its opponents 12 to two, while Canada has not conceded a goal.

Heading into Wednesday’s final, Canada has won all matches (seven) in the last two competitions. Netherlands, meanwhile, has an all-time Cyprus Women’s Cup record of eight wins, two draws and four losses. Its best finish was third place in 2010.

Canada’s all-time record at the Cyprus Cup is 12 wins, one draw and one loss. Canada has reached the final every year, winning the tournament twice (2008, 2010) and finishing runner up once (2009).

Behind every cloud there is a silver lining as Canada won its bid to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015 this week after clinching its second CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifier in November, to take the country to its fifth consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany.

Canadian soccer fans can now look forward to welcoming the world to watch the premier women’s sporting event right here in Canada. The announcement was made by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, following a FIFA Executive Committee meeting in Zurich, Switzerland.

The host nation of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, also host the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in the preceding year, which means that both the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2014 and FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 will be played in Canada

Canada has hosted FIFA tournaments dating back to the FIFA U-17 World Cup Canada 1987, the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2002 (inaugural event) and the record-setting 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

In Canada, roughly 43% of all registered players are women, twice as much as it was eight years ago when Canada hosted the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2002. For more soccer update stay tune right here at

Canada’s Christine Sinclair opens year winning MVP in China

USA won the 2011 Yongchuan Cup Four-Nation Women’s Tournament after beating host China 2-0 in its last match, but Canada’s Christine Sinclair turned out to be the boss after being named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

The four-team tournament was played from January 21-25, and comprised of the United States, Sweden, Canada and host China. The games were played in the Yongchuan District of Chongqing, China and Canada only lost was a 2-1 head-to-head battle with USA.

The win was USA’s seventh straight over Canada, as the Americans extended its unbeaten streak to 22 over its northern rivals on Sunday. Both Canada and USA finished tied with six points (two wins and one loss), but USA won by virtue of the head to head win

Canada opened the tournament with a 3-2 come from behind victory over host China after trailing 2-0 at the half. Sinclair scored the equalizer and the winner in extra time and was again the difference, in Canada’s 1-0 victory over Sweden in its last match.

In spite of the USA defeat Coach Carolina Morace and her team, Canada women are making positive strides. The Canucks win against Sweden marks the first time since November 2006 that Canada defeated a team that was ranked in top-four in the world.

Canada’s record stands at two wins, three draws and two losses against top-10 nations over the last year, and the only defeats were against the number one and two-ranked USA and Germany.
However, Canada is marking its mark.

The win over Sweden, marks only the second time that Canada has beaten Sweden in 13 matches between the two dating back to 1987 (2-1-10). With all the teams tied on points with 3 apiece Canada was playing Sweden in the first match of the double header

“We played well in this game,” said coach Carolina Morace. “In the second half, we continued to attack. We were not scared to attack the goal.” Most coaches like to have a go-to player and Christine Sinclair coach Morace Inbox.

Both Sinclair and coach Morace stocks are up not only on local stock exchange, but on the world soccer market. Sinclair’s goal against Sweden was the 115th of her international career, and her 12th scored in the last 15 matches.

She scored 3 goals in the 3 matches at the Yongchuan Cup Four-Nations tournament, with her last against Sweden, a beauty. On a defensive headed clearance on Canada’s end to Sinclair splitting three Sweden defenders on the other end for the winner.

“She was amazing,” says Canada coach Morace. “She has turbo jets and she is not even in her best condition.” I hope coach Morace is not like those commentators who put goat mouth on players to make their fortunes change.

There is no doubt that Christine Sinclair has to stay healthy for Canada to stand any chance of going deep into the FIFA’s Women’s World Cup in Germany. Canada next tournament is at the Cyprus Cup in early March.

 USA will also have the Algarve Cup to play in Portugal in March, and with an improve Mexico, the WWC in Germany may be the best showing yet by CONCACAF teams at any World Cup tournament. The FIFA Women’s World Cup starts on June 26 and ends on July 17, 2011.

Canada women hold of host Brazil to win

4-nation tournament  

After a scoreless tie in their first meeting, Canada women won the São Paulo International Soccer championship on goal difference after holding host Brazil to a 2-2 draw in the rematch last Sunday in São Paulo.

Marta (the world # 1 female player) scored her second of the game on a penalty kick to put Brazil ahead 2-1. But Captain Christine Sinclair equalized in the last ten minutes of play to salvage the tie for Canada with her team down to ten players. The combatants finished the tournament with identical records of 2 wins and two draws, but Canada lifted the trophy by virtue of its superior (+6) goal differential to Brazil’s +4 from the four matches.

The 2-2 draw in the final extended Canada’s unbeaten streak to 10 matches from 8 wins and 2 draws since the 3:1 victory over China PR at BMO Field on 30 September. The team finished the 2010 season with its best statistical season ever: 13 wins, three draws and just two losses.

The 4-nation championship in Brazil was Canada’s third-straight championship of 2011 and it also marks the third time Sinclair has scored the decisive goal for either club or country this season.

She scored the winner in the WPS championship final in September (FC Gold Pride), the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifier championship final in November (where Canada qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup), and now in the 4-nation tournament in Brazil.

Sinclair was also part of Canada’s championship team which won the Cyprus Cup in March. In the match for third last Sunday, Netherlands defeated Mexico for the second-straight match, this time a 2:1 victory.

Marta was the most goal scorer of the tournament with six goals (two in the final) while Sinclair was second with four goals. This was the same position they ran when they play together for FC Gold Pride which folded after winning the WPS Championship.

Voting for the Canadian Player of the Year in the senior and junior coed categories was decided this week. Atiba Hutchinson of Brampton Ontario won the Canada male Player of the Year award while Christine Sinclair has been voted Female Player of the Year.

It was Hutchinson first time at winning the prestigious award while Sinclair of Burnaby, BC took her tally of female Player of the year awards to an unprecedented 6 consecutive (2005-10) with her latest accomplishment.

Hutchinson had huge year at the club level in Europe. He split the season between F.C. København in Denmark and PSV Eindhoven in Netherland and Hutchinson was named the top player in the Danish Super league to close of a stellar career in Denmark.

 He did not skip a beat after joining PSV Eindhoven and helped his club maintain its lead as the front runner in the Eredivise standings through mid December. In UEFA Europa League PSV Eindhoven finish first in Group I and advanced to the next round, thanks in part to Mr. Atiba.

Hutchinson played all 3 matches for Canada in his eighth season and celebrated his 50th national team appearance by scoring in Canada’s 2-2 draw against Ukraine in Kyiv on 8 October. He was part of the team when Canada’s defeated Honduras 2:1 at Stade Saputo in Montréal, on September 7th.

Atiba Hutchinson is highly regarded by Canada coach Stephen Hart who had nothing but praise his midfielder when the announcement of the voting results were made.  “This is a fantastic achievement for Atiba and well deserved,” said Hart.

“He has worked hard for what he has achieved. He always answers the call to represent his country and he is a terrific ambassador. I wish him well and urge him to continue enjoying his soccer.”

Christine Sinclair in women soccer in Canada is becoming what Wayne Gretsky was to Hockey. She won four gold medals in 2010 which is her best season to date and she is scoring big goals in championships matches.

The honourees in the youth divisions as awarded by the coaches Ethan Gage (Cochrane, AB) and Jonelle Filigno (Mississauga, ON) as the co-winners of the Canada U-20 Players of the Year award while Bryce Alderson (Kitchener, ON) and Diamond Simpson (Mississauga, ON) were named co-winners of the Canadian U-17 Players of the Year award.

Canada vs Brazil in 4-nations final

Canada continues its preparation for the 2011 Women’s World Cup by winning its first two matches at the four nation tournament in Brazil. The tournament comprises of Mexico, Netherlands, Canada, and host Brazil.

As the CONCACAF Women’s champions, Canada women opened the floodgates en route to a 5-0 trouncing of the Dutch in its first match. Captain Christine Sinclair and Diana Matheson each accounted for braces while Josee Belanger added her item.

With Mexico waiting in the wings for a third shot at the Canucks in 6 weeks, it was the best of starts for Canada. Mexico lost 3-0 at home to Canada in the group stage of the CONCACAF World Cup Championship and lost 1-0 on a penalty by Sinclair in the final.

In the third clash at the 4-nation tournament and before a crowd of 7,681 at the Pacaembu Stadium in São Paulo, Brazil, captain (marvel) Sinclair scored to register her 111th goal of her international career in the 22nd minute,  to give Canada a 1-0 win.

It was another courageous battle by Mexico but Canada women are proving to be the better of the two. Coach Carolina Morace has the team believing in her coaching methods, which makes Canada a dangerous preposition for opponents.

Canada still has host Brazil to play  on Wednesday (at press time), to round off the group matches, but it is a match which coach Morace will have to put her tactical skill on the line, since Canada has a rematch with the Brazilians in the 4-nations final days later.

Heading into its last group match, Canada leads Brazil with a +6 goal difference to Brazil’s +4. But, Brazil has Marta; the best female player in the world who is surrounded with talented players that can score in bunches.

Canada on the other hand has Christine Sinclair who is not a bad trade off for Marta, considering her teammates are motivated to be the best team in the world and led by coach Morace who many feel may be the best coach in women soccer at present.

Sinclair and the Brazilian superstar Marta were teammates for FC Gold Pride of the Women Soccer League, which unfortunately has folded after winning the WPS 2010 championship. As such, two of the best players in women soccer is now free agents and available.

However, Marta and Sinclair will have to maintain their competitive edge and stay healthy, since in sports you are only as good as your last match. Looking at the World Cup schedule, there is a good chance that Brazil and Canada could meet in the semi finals in Germany.

But for now Coach Morace and her team have the unenviable task of containing the number 3 ranked team in the world from their number ninth ranked spot. Regardless of the outcome, Canada women’s team is heading to its 5th consecutive World Cup alive and kicking.

Hopefully this turn of events will change the perception that Mexico, Costa Rica, USA and Honduras are the best in the region and are automatic choices to represent CONCACAF at world tournaments.

Canada is also showing its worth against world class competitors. Netherlands is ranked 15th in the world and received five unanswered goals from Canada. Technically sound Mexico which is ranked 22nd has lost

three straight games (2 at home) to Canada.

The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) deserves a lot of credit for giving the women the exposure needed from these training exercises and against quality opposition.  It gives the player and its supporters the confidence that the team is capable of competing at the highest level of competition.

This method of operation should be duplicated with its men’s program for 2011. It will bring the already improving men’s team up to speed so it can also be a shoe-in to qualify out of CONCACAF, like the Canada women teams.

Canada is in Group A at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and will be opening the tournament against host Germany, with African powerhouse Nigeria and France waiting in the wings to exhale. Germany is the defending champion, while France is ranked #8 and Nigeria ranked 22nd. A tough group, but based on its present form, Canada is showing that it should be able to advance out of the group.

USA, the worlds #1 ranked team is in the Group C (Group of Death) with the number 6th RANKED Korea DPR, #4 ranked Sweden, and the Colombia which is ranked 22nd in the world.

Playing as CONCACAF third representative at the W-W-C in Germany, Mexico, (ranked 22nd) is in Group B with Japan (5th), New Zealand (23rd) and England (10th). However, with Germany favoured to defend its title, USA proved once again that they are still the number one women’s team in the world by beating Italy 2-0 on aggregate in their playoff series to challenge Germany.

Canada Women win CONCACAF Championship

Canada Women World Cup bound as champs.

Canada won the CONCACAF Women’s Championship in Cancun Mexico, after beating Mexico 1-0 on Captain Christine Sinclair’s penalty. The penalty was awarded when Mexico’s Perez was called for a blatant handball and was ejected from the game.

The final was an unlikely rematch between the teams since Canada and USA were picked to reach the final before and during the tournament. But no one told that to Mexico, who obviously had plans of their own.
There is substance to the clichés that you have to take one game at a time and the game is won and loss on the field of play, since the Americans suffered their first loss ever in women’s qualifying as a result.

With its backs against the wall and behind the support of a spirited home crowd Mexico jumped to an early 3rd minute lead which they never relinquish en route to a 2-1 win over USA, the #1 ranked women’s team in the world.

Canada defeat Costa Rica 4-0 in its semi final match and must have been a little surprised when they were preparing to play Mexico instead of the Americans. But, Canada 4-0 win over Costa Rica was not indicative of the closeness of the contest as the match was scoreless at the half.

It was a tale of two halves, as Josee Belanger, Jonelle Filigno, Christine Sinclair light up the scoreboard from the 64th minute onwards, to add to Costa Rica’s own-goal in time added on time, for a seemingly run away 4-0 Canada victory.

However, though Canada was clearly the favorite heading into the championship match against Mexico, it was the Mexicans whose soccer stocks were at an all time high  after giving USA women their first loss ever in World Cup qualifying.

But how quickly things changed as Canada withstood the challenge and clinched its second women’s confederation championship and it’s first since it defeated Mexico in Toronto in 1998.

In moving forward, there is no doubt that there is a distinct difference in the play of Canada Women’s team under Italian head coach Carolina Morace, and thus far Morace has proven her worth as one of the top 4 ranked coaches in women soccer/football in the world.

Since she arrived in February of 2009, the team seemed to be well prepared both mentally and physically and as a result complacency and overconfidence was not a factor in Canada’s rematch against Mexico.

Canada finished the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament as the only undefeated team (5-0-0) with 17 goals scored while allowing zero in return to win the 2010 CONCACAF Women’s Championship.

There was a time when Canada women was highly ranked, but the 2010 Women’s championship is only Canada’s second women’s championship since 1998, when it defeated Mexico in Toronto.
But times are changing and only time will tell how much Canada women’s game has improved, when it attempts to break its 21 game unbeaten streak against the Americans in a must arrange friendly by the Canadian Soccer Association before the World Cup.

Canada has faced USA in three previous finals; all loses, with two going into overtime (2002 and 2006). But Canada is at the top of its game and stands a realistic chance of passing the Americans as the #1 seed in CONCACAF.

Canada Captain Sinclair finished the tournament tied with Mexico’s Maribel Dominguez for second in scoring with 6 goals but their was no bigger goal than he sixth from the penalty spot which gave Canada the 1-0 win.

Abby Wambach’s of the United States scored the most goals in the toournament with eight while Canada goalkeeper Leblanc was undoubtedly the best between the pipes, while her defense shut out opposing teams.

What is impressive about Canada’s play is that in spite of playing amazing defense the team is still playing an attacking brand of soccer, which is a tribute to coach Morace and her coaching staff for keeping the team in excellent physical shape for a transitional game.

Both Mexico and Canada had already clinched berths into next year’s Women’s World Cup in Germany, so a drop in the intensity of the final may have been normal, but that was not the case.

Canada was intent of proving that they were the best in the tournament and Mexico was intent on proving to Canada that their group loss to the Canucks was just a fluke. The result speaks for itself and Canada prevailed.

Although there have been much talk about the blatant penalty which was not called for Canada, I though that the calls had evened out since Mexico Dominguez was fouled in the penalty area early in the match which would not have created much of an argument had Mexico been awarded a penalty.
But in the end, the best team won and Canada is the deserving 2010 CONCACAF Women’s Champions. Gooo Canada!

CONCACAF Qualifiers for 2010 Women’s World Cup Germany

The CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany starts with a Group B double header this Thursday as Costa Rica is up against Guatemala at 6p.m. and Haiti takes on the heavily favored United States in the second match at 8:30 p.m.

The United States has won six of the previous seven titles, with the other team’s only chance coming in 1998, when USA was the host of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. But the games have to be played and the Americans should not take anything for granted.

Canada kicks off the two group tournament this Friday against Trinidad & Tobago as the first game of the Group A double header at 6p.m. Host Mexico will test debutants Guyana in the second match at 8:30 p.m.

With the CONCACAF Women’s championship title the ultimate goal, the teams (except USA) real objective will be to make the championship final which carries automatic spots to the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011.


he CONCACAF Championship third place team will get another chance to qualify for the World Cup via a two-legged (home and away) playoff series, against the fifth place team from Europe, which will be coming from either Italy or Switzerland.

Although USA and Canada are favored to advance to the championship finals, Mexico has been improving steadily and Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago may prove not to be slouches when their backs are inevitably against the wall.

Though T&T Women has not advanced past the first round since the inaugural championship in 1991, (where they finished in third place), their head coach Jamal Shabazz seem to have confidence in the ability of his team while talking to

“For a long time we have just participated in CONCACAF tournaments, “but for this World Cup qualifying tournament we’re going to compete with Mexico…we are going to compete with Canada,” says coach Shabazz.

While Canada is favored to win Group A, it stands the best chance to win the championship. However, USA seems to have Canada’s number and has always been the Canucks obstacle. In 2002 and 2006, Canada forced extra time in the final but eventually succumbed.

Canada is under new coach Carolina Morace, who has indicated that her team has a chance to end their 21-game winless streak with USA. But, Coach Morace and the Canucks should not get ahead of themselves, since the group games still have to be won for Canada to advance.

Granted, Canada defeated USA on penalties in the Women’s U-17 semi finals, but Canada will be well advise to approach Friday’s game against T&T as a must win situation in order to come out atop of what seems to be a very interesting group.

Canada three group matches will be broadcast live on with an encore presentation on CBC Television. Canada opening match on Friday versus Trinidad and Tobago will air at 7 p.m. live on CBC’s digital channel bold with its encore presentation at 9p.m.

Canada’s second match against Guyana on Sunday October 31 has a live broadcast time of 7p.m. and will encore at 9p.m. The Canucks third match will be its clash with host Mexico on Tuesday November 2 at 9:30p.m. on live, and encored on CBC TV at 12pm

The CONCACAF Qualifier runs from October 28 to November 8, with USA expected to win. However, the reigning Olympic champion hasn’t won the World Cup since 1999, while its U-20 Women’s team was eliminated in the quarterfinals at the World Cup in July by Nigeria.

USA U-17 also failed to qualify for the World Cup, after being beaten by Canada on penalties in the semifinals of the CONCACAF championship. Nevertheless, the Americans are real favorites and are unbeaten it’s their last 11 matches this year (9-2-0).

Their unbeaten streak includes a pair of wins over two-time defending World Cup champion Germany and an Algarve Cup title, with the entire U.S. team plays professionally in either the U.S. Women’s Pro Soccer league or in Germany, with forward Alex Morgan the only exception.

But the tournament is in Cancun Mexico, where Mexico’s can pounce on the opportunity before their passionate home crowd to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 12 years since its best finish as runner-up in 1998.

Costa Rica may have the bench strength since it qualified for the U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2008 and the U-20 Women’s World Cup this past year, while Haiti and Guyana may have a ticket, but their chance of advancing to the World Cup is slim to nil.

Canada U-17 Women win CONCACAF Championship

Canada defied the odds to win the CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Champions in Alajuela, Costa Rica, last Saturday. Playing short handed for the last 33 minutes the Canucks rode the rhythm of a Kinley McNicoll goal in the 8th minute of play, to defeat Mexico 1-0 and win the championship.

But the final was anticlimactic as the real accomplishment came in the semi final match two days earlier. This was when Canada beat a red hot USA team 5-3 on penalty kicks, after the team had played 201 minutes of scoreless battle which included 120 minutes of regulation and overtime.

Canada coach Bryan Rosenfeld, deserves a lot of credit for motivating his team after coming off a devastating 1-0 loss against Mexico for the group title. More importantly was that Canada also lost an easier passage to the final, instead they had to face USA in the semi finals.

USA had demolished their opponents 32-0 and Canada was scoreless in 143 minutes. But Coach Rosenfeld came up with an improved team defense, which held together like glue to shutout the Americans and clinched a W-C berth and a spot in the Championship final.

In the penalty kicks of the semi final, the Americans Clarissa Wiedemayer missed one out of the USA five and kicking at a perfect four for four, Chantal Campbell sealed the deal for Canada, by converting the fifth penalty to start celebrations, with Weidemayer in tears.

However, those are the breaks in the fun and excitement of sports and the United States, which finished runners-up in the 2008 World championship to Korea DPR, had for the first time failed to qualify for a women’s World Cup.

“It’s always been my dream to go the World Cup and now that we’re going there, I just want to cry,” said Canada’s Nicole Setterlund, who converted the fourth penalty for Canada. “Our team defended really hard. It was a battle. It was a war and we got lucky.”

Luck also played on the side of Canada as the Americans missed two glorious opportunities to take the lead in the overtime period, and with the game finishing 0-0 after overtime, one would have to say that Canada had the momentum and upset was in the air.

But for Canada, the big PAYBACK was in play and the last laugh was the best. All the clichés apply here as Canada scored, and yes, Canada did score and like it so much that they were continuing the attack and looking for more goals.

Canada’s momentum carried over into the final against Mexico who was coming off a 3-1 overtime win against Costa Rica in the semi final, and must have thought they had Canada’s number after  their two wins in their last two matches.

Heading into the final, Mexico had beaten Canada twice in less than two weeks, 2-1 in the 4-Nations tournament in Trinidad, and 1-0 in their Group A clash, which sent Canada tumbling into the open arms of the confident Americans.

The win against USA boosted Canada’s confidence level and Mexico was feeling the brunt of heat. To Mexico surprise, it was a different Canada team than the one they played before and Canada’s Women were a spirited bunch.

Canada’s offense gave the defense a lead to defend and that’s all she wrote. Canada started both the Mexico and USA games pushing forward, and after some good saves by USA goal keeper, Canada was rewarded on both occasions.

But, in spite of the good offensive start in those games, Canada had to revert to a counter attack strategy late, and did an excellent job with their defensive schemes from the semi final match against the strength of the Americans offense.

If winning (USA) is not everything, then one would have to tell me what transformed Canada to be more patient with their passing game which definitely improved in their time of possession and their overall play against Mexico.

Canada went into a defensive mode as Mexico pushed forward for the equalizer. Canada went down a player with 33 minutes remaining, from an accumulation of two yellow cards, but handled the short handed situation well to secure the lead.

However, Coach Rosenfeld did not adjust from the 4-Nations tournament and into the early part of the CONCACAF Championship as well as I expected. But his team certainly turned it up a notch in its last two games to win the CONCACAF Championship.

Given all the scenarios coach Rosenfeld had faced in his last two tournaments, I think with the right preparation Canada should be fully prepared for the FIFA World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago, and advance deep into the tournament.