Canada in tough group in W/C Qualifier

Canada Soccer Updates

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Canada in tough Group 2 in CONCACAF W/C Qualifier

Now that the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers teams has been finalized, and the implication and anticipated toughness of Group 2 has been realized our attention can now be on the dates of the matches between Canada, Mexico, Honduras and Jamaica who will do battle in what is termed as the “Group of Death”.

For Caribbean Canada soccer fans, the third round schedule of the World Cup qualifiers has presented a tough pill to swallow since Canada is definitely in the thick of things to advance, and Jamaica is a legitimate contender, while the highly skilled Honduras team is on the prowl with the intention of upsetting a highly favored Mexico team.

Caribbean Canadians could still hold on to their preference of Canada, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba and Haiti advancing to the fourth round of six teams since anything can happen but there are always two teams and one winner.

Although no system is perfect, it is my belief that the long term success of the Canada 2010 World Cup team in the “Group of Death” has the best chance of qualifying for World Cup 2010 since Canada debut on the World Cup stage in 1986.

Canada soccer program is picking up momentum at the right time since the Women U-20 last week has just defeated USA to win the CONCACAF tournament and the just concluded “Julian De Guzman and Friends” Celebrity Challenge Charity” soccer game held at Birchmount Stadium in Scarborough Ontario was well received by the fans in attendance.

The “Julian De Guzman and Friends Celebrity Challenge Charity” soccer game was presented by the Annual Robbie Tournament and sponsored by UMBRO Canada and coordinated by Kudos Management.

The Charity game was also geared towards raising funds for the Cystic Fibrosis foundation which happens to be the charity organization of choice that is supported by the Robbie Tournament over the years.

The Celebrity game was reintroduced to allow the fans to see live some of the players that they usually see on television. The teams were lead by members of the Canadian National team. Julian De Guzman (Whites) and the blue team by Paul Steltari present captain of the Canadian national team.

Canada advance into tough group after defeating SVG

vs  Montreal: Canada’s men’s national team advanced to the third round of the CONCACAF World Cup after defeating St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) 4-1 before an energetic crowd of 11,000+ at the Saputo Stadium in Montreal Quebec.

Canada entered the second leg game with a sizable 3-0 advantage and although it rained before the game the weather conditions did not seem to affect or dampen the hopes of the Vincy heat team from getting past Canada.

 SVG played well in the opening minutes of the game but the momentum shifted after they could not capitalize on a number of close calls around the Canada net. The missed opportunities did not help SVG cause as Canada defense moved forward aggressively into the offense as captain Paul Stalteri was making several runs down the right flank to soften things up for the Canadian attack of De Rosario and company.

Dwayne De Rosario opened the scoring for Canada at the 29 minute after he negotiated through several SVG players from the right flank to score into what might have well have been an open net as the SVG defenders only hope was to block his shot with their goalkeeper clearly beaten.

From that point onwards De Rosario imposed his will on the SVG defense as he moved from the center to the right and then to the left flank. It was on the left flank that he sent a perfect cross onto the head of  striker (#10) Ali Gerba at the 39 minute to give Canada a commanding 2-0 lead as SVG continued to misfire on offense.

With Canada leading 2-0 to start the second half the game was now a mere formality with the run of play still favoring Canada. De Rosario and Gerba scored their respective second goals at the 50 and 63 minute and while they were busy looking for their hat trick, SVG striker Marlon James scored to send the colorful SVG supporters in a festive atmosphere to end the game. Dwayne De Rosario was voted the Man of the Match for Canada.

In advancing into the third round Canada now find themselves in tough company in Group 2 with the likes of Honduras, Jamaica, and Mexico. Jamaica is presently on fire offensively after demolishing Bahamas 7-0 and 6-0 in their two second round games and it would take a tremendous effort for any team to shut down the Reggae Boyz offense and although Jamaica did not concede a goal against Bahamas, the Boyz will have to improve on defense while maintaining their physical and mental toughness at home to move forward.

Honduras in this third round will have to get back to their Gold Cup form since they had to use their home field advantage to defeat Puerto Rico 4-0 after tying the first leg 2-2 in Puerto Rico. Honduras is a very capable team and showed their worth when they defeated Mexico in Gold Cup action last year, but that was then and this is now.

Until they are eliminated Mexico as always will be favored to qualify out of the CONCACAF zone, but the Tricolors were sluggish in their 2-0 first leg win against Belize which indicates that their football is not out of the woods as yet when compared to several other disappointing results at major tournaments.

However Mexico are trying to turn their fortunes around with the hiring of Swede Sven Goran Eriksson and with a decisive 7-0 win at home against Belize in their second leg it may just be enough to keep the skeptics quiet until they open the third round against Honduras.

The coaching staffs of the Group 2 cannot be surprise of their opponents since these match ups were anticipated when the initial draw was made for the qualifying round of the CONCACAF Zone.

Trinidad and Tobago managed to pull it together just in time in their second leg to defeat Bermuda 2-0 with goals from Daryl Roberts and Stern John at the 10 and 69 minute mark respectively to squeeze into the third round of the W/C Qualifiers. In other qualifying second leg action El Salvador upset Panama 3-1, while Surinam eliminated Guyana to create the only two major upsets of the second round of the 12 teams which received a bye from the onset.

 Canada lost 3-2 to Brazil

Canada’s men’s national team played Brazil, the #2 ranked team in the world toe to toe in their international friendly match in Seattle, Washington. Canada tied the score twice but could not hold off the Brazilians at the end.  Canada will play Panama in another friendly before taking on SVG in the second round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifier.


Canada Men face Brazil in Seattle WA

Canada’s men’s national team will be playing Brazil in an international friendly match in Seattle, Washington on Saturday 31 May. The match is one of two International friendly games that Canada would be playing in preparation for their two-match home and away CONCACAF qualifiers against Saint Vincent & the Grenadines (SVG) on June 15 and 20.

Canada second friendly is scheduled for June 6 against Panama in Panama City and at this point I must admit that this game will improve Canada’s chance of solidifying a spot in the latter rounds of the CONCACAF qualifiers because it presents match ups challenges that is out of the Canada’s players comfort zone.

The reason I stress if Canada get pass SVG is because Canada played Martinique to on January 30 to prepare for SVG style of play and although Canada won the game 1-0, I would hope that Canada coach Mitchell is aware that the Martinique team is not a good measuring stick to the strength of the SVG team and unlike Martinique, the SVG team midfield is as good and as creative as it gets amongst the Caribbean teams.

After getting by the SVG hurdle, Canada would reap the benefits of these two upcoming friendly games against Brazil and Panama, because I believe that the last 12 teams advancing into the final four CONCACAF World Cup spots would include the style of play of Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, and Guatemala.

It would have been better if the Canada versus Brazil game of May 31 could have been played in Canada which would have boast the Canadian interest and for the Canadian team similar to the impact of the England versus T&T centennial game generated for the T&T team which will be playing before a sold out crowd on June 1.

However Canadian head coach Dale Mitchell might be right when he stated ‘Whenever you are presented with the opportunity to play the most famous national team of all, I don’t think that you can pass it up,’ ‘Our players will be able to measure themselves against some of the world’s best. This game will help us to prepare for the qualifying matches upcoming.’

There is no doubt that Brazil game will help to improve the physiological aspects of the Canadian team but coach Mitchell may discover that the Panama game may present the best physical preparation for his team to advance into the later rounds of the World Cup qualifiers especially if Panama maintains the team speed demonstrated at Gold Cup 2007.

Canada is making at attempt to full the Saputo Stadium to improve Canada’s men’s national team odds of advancing as one of the 12 teams to the Stage 3 group playing from August to November. Canada’s first 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Qualifiers game is June 15, in Kingston, Saint Vincent while the return match will be played on June 20 at the Saputo Stadium in Montréal.

The 12 advancing teams will be divided into three pre-determined groups and should Canada advance, they would play in a league system home-and-away format against the winners of the México-Belize, the Jamaica-Bahamas, and the Honduras-Puerto Rico series. Two teams will advance out of the three groups and the six teams will then play in another home-and-away league system matches with the top three CONCACAF teams automatically advancing to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, and the fourth team playing the fifth-best team from the CONMEBOL Confederation (South America) zone in a home and away playoff series for the fourth and final CONCACAF spot. The fourth and final stage takes place in 2009.

Canada Women qualify for Beijing Olympics

Canada has drawn Argentina, Sweden and host China in their Group E at the official draw for the   2008 Women’s Olympic football Tournament in China.

The Canadian women clinched a spot to the Olympic Football tournament in Beijing, China after defeating Mexico 1-0 in the semi final on a goal scored by Melissa Tancredi at the 25th minute to reach the CONCACAF Olympic Qualification final.

Canada got a big break when the Mexican last defender lost her footing with the ball travelling towards her and striker Melissa Tancredi pounced on the loose ball which resulted in a break away.  Tancredi was composed on her approach to the goal and neatly tucked her shot into the net to give Canada a 1-0 lead, a lead they never relinquished

In the in suing final Canada loss to USA 6-5 on penalty kicks after the teams played scoreless in regulation time and scored one each in overtime to set up penalty kicks.

Canada showed real grit to come back when after a scoreless 90 minute, USA took the lead on a goal by Carli Lloyd at the 108th minute of extra time, but Canada returned the favor as Melissa Tancredi scored the equalizer eight minutes later to send the game into penalty kicks. Canada missed two of their 7 kicks while USA converted 6 with Canada missing one wide and the team’s goalkeepers saving one apiece.

Canada Women meet USA in CONCACAF Olympic final

Canada Women team will meet USA in the final of the CONCACAF Women Olympic qualifiers this Saturday after defeating Mexico 1-0 on a goal scored by Melissa Tancredi at the 25th minute to reach the CONCACAF Olympic Qualification final.

USA could ill afford to make the same mistake they made against Costa Rica after USA watched but did not take serious note of the fast improving Costa Rica team in their previous group game against Canada. In that game Costa Rica stretched Canada to the limit before losing 1-0.

Although the high winds seemed to assist Costa Rica in neutralizing the long USA passes, to most people surprise Costa Rica had a decent share of the offensive play in the first half.

However after a tight 0-0 first half, USA turned up the pressure as the wind die down in the second half to defeat Costa Rica 3-0 to clinch a spot in the final to meet the winner of the second game between Canada and a well supported host Mexico team.

As Canada touched off the ball they hoofed the ball long forward into the Mexico defense to my disappointment but in hindsight it could have been coach Even Pellerud game plan since he started with one striker instead of his customary 4-4-2 formation and could have wanted to see what Mexico had to offer on offense.

Coach Pellerud also push his world class striker and team captain Christine Sinclair back as a central midfielder but move was not as effective as the other moves that coach Pellerud made during the game. With Sinclair in the midfield Mexico still had control of most of the midfield play due to their ball possession style of play.

Then Canada got a big break when the Mexican last defender lost her footing with the ball travelling towards her and striker Melissa Tancredi pounced on the loose ball which resulted in a break away.  Tancredi was composed on her approach to the goal and neatly tucked her shot into the net to give Canada a 1-0 lead, a lead they never relinquished.

Canada was the tougher and stronger team and although they were not as good in the technical category and ball possession as Mexico they compensated their short giving with speed as Canada was the  faster of the teams to the balls which helped to solidified their defensive schemes and coverage.

Canada was also tougher than the Mexico mentally and deserves a lot of credit for displaying their best offensive thrusts towards the latter part of the game at a time when it seemed like their one goal lead was sufficient to at least take the game into overtime.

This was a game where coach Pellerud use of his substitutes was suburb, especially with the entrance of Brittany Timko on the left flank to compliment Lang on the right flank. Lang was giving the Mexicans defenders beans as she took on two and three defenders on a regular basis still was successful in penetrating and getting to the byline or keeping possession via throws and corner kicks.

The flank players of Canada will have to continue their aggressive play as they did in the Mexico game but Canada defense would have to up their game a notch to defeat a very strong USA team on Saturday.

CAN: 18-Erin McLeod – 4-Clare Rustad, 7-Rhian Wilkinson, 8-Diana Matheson, 9-Candace Chapman, 10-Martina Franko, 11-Randee Hermus (73: 5-Robyn Gayle), 12-Christine Sinclair-C, 14-Melissa Tancredi (76: 21-Jodi Ann Robinson), 15-Kara Lang, 16-Jonelle Filigno (67: 17-Brittany Timko). Booked: Lang 63’
MEX: 20-Sophia Perez – 3-Rubi Marlene Sandoval, 4-Natalie Raquel Vinti, 5-Maria De Jesus Castillo, 6-Monica Vergara, 7-Juana Evelyn Lopez-C, 9-Monica Ocampo (46: 17-Tania Paola Morales), 10-Teresa Guadelupe Worbis, 11-Patricia Perez (80: 8-Carmenita Padilla), 13-Maria Lourdes Gordillo, 19-Iris Adriana Mora (68: 18-Veronica Charlyn Corral)

Canada in CONCACAF Women Olympic semifinal

Canada Women team is in the semi final of the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualification game at press time (Wednesday) and although it can be said that Canada Women soccer team under coach Even Pellerud is the highest ranked and maybe the most recognized of all the Canada teams world wide, for me the Women team still have a long way to go in regards to their technique and substantial advantage in ball possession.

Due to this lack of composure Canada Women team is usually a bit shabby when up against mediocre opposition but can hold their own with the best teams in the world when it comes to being competitive and keeping the final score close.

Against Mexico the Canada women soccer team would need to step up their technique to win to secure a place at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008.

Canada is the better team in terms of mental and physical toughness, speed and power, but they will be seriously challenge in regards to their technical capabilities since the playing style of two team are completely different and the game will be decided on ball possession and individual players confidence on the ball.

Canada reached the semi final after clinching first-place in their Group B after shellacking Trinidad and Tobago 6-0 in their opening game and defeating Costa Rica 1-0 in their final game.

The Costa Rica game was yet another example where the Canucks was challenged due to the difference in style of play.  Costa Rica is ranked 48 to Canada’s #8 world ranking and the play and final result of the game was a little to close for coach Pellerud comfort.

 The Canada– Costa Rica game was played as the first game of a double header and USA closed out the second game with a 3-1 win over Mexico in front of a record crowd of 22,280 for a CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualification game at the Benito Juarez Olympic Stadium.

The win also gave USA the Group A title as they defeated Jamaica 6-0 in their first game to add to their unbeaten streak of 26 games in CONCACAF Women’s Tournament matches.

The four teams of the double would have to cross over as Mexico finished second in Group A and so did Costa Rica in group B after finishing ahead of Trinidad & Tobago on goal difference (-1 to -6). As a result USA will play Costa Rica and Canada up against Mexico in the semi final games of the 2008 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualification.

Jamaica was defeated 8-1 and 6-0 respectively by Mexico and USA while Trinidad and Tobago was defeated 6-0 by Canada and tied with Costa Rica 2-2 to be eliminated on goal differential

The semi finals are scheduled for at the Benito Juarez Olympic Stadium and the two (winners) finalists will not only play for the CONCACAF title on 12 April but will also qualify to the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008.

 New CONCACAF Champions League Tournament for Canada
The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA), Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC, and the Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact of the USL-1 announced details for a three city, six-match Canadian club competition. The competition determines Canada’s representative at the CONCACAF Champions League this summer.

The qualification tournament takes place between May 27 and July 22, 2008 with each participating city hosting two games.

The CONCACAF Champions’ League is the revamped version of the CONCACAF Champions Cup, the longest running international club competition in the CONCACAF region that has crowned the best club of the confederation since its inception over four decades ago.

The CONCACAF Champions League will have 24 teams from all regions of CONCACAF participating. The preliminary round begins in August 2008 with the first CONCACAF Champions League winner to be crowned in late April 2009. The League winner will move on to represent the confederation at the FIFA World Club Championship in Japan and compete for the top prize of $5 million against some of the top soccer clubs in the world.

“Toronto FC is excited to compete in a national tournament that challenges our players and gives them an opportunity to develop their game at a another level,” said Tom Anselmi, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and Governor of Major League Soccer. “More importantly competitions such as this Canadian Qualification tournament support our goal of motivating the next generation of Canada’s soccer talent and show them that they have professional soccer teams to aspire too.”

“We are very excited, as a club, to participate in an event that will showcase soccer locally, nationally and internationally,” said Joey Saputo, President, Montreal Impact. “All three clubs have achieved great things in their respective local markets, but this is a unique opportunity to further promote the game of soccer throughout the country.”

Saputo added “I truly want to underline the great spirit of cooperation that has surrounded this project since the clubs first initiated their discussions last October. When natural rivals such as Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto put their differences aside and come together for the good of the game, you know something exciting is going to happen.”

“The realization of a Canadian club represented at the CONCACAF Champions League is a huge step in the evolution of professional soccer in Canada,” said Vancouver Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. “Canada’s three professional clubs have never been stronger both on and off the field, and this tournament will showcase the growth of the sport in Canada’s three biggest markets. It’s a great time to be a fan of the professional game in Canada.”

“This competition provides a unique opportunity for the professional clubs and the Canadian Soccer Association to showcase a high-level competition to our fans,” said CSA chairman of the board Dominic Maestracci. “It will open the door for our best professional club to measure itself against the best clubs in CONCACAF.”

Canadian Qualification Tournament dates:
Toronto FC at Montreal Impact – May 27, 2008 (Stade Saputo)
Vancouver Whitecaps at Montreal Impact (Stade Saputo) – June 17, 2008
Montreal Impact at Vancouver Whitecaps (Swangard Stadium) – June 25, 2008
Vancouver Whitecaps at Toronto FC (BMO Field) – July 1, 2008
Toronto FC at Vancouver Whitecaps (Swangard Stadium) – July 9, 2008
Montreal Impact at Toronto FC (BMO Field) – July 22, 2008

Details for ticket sales for the Canadian Qualifier Competition will be announced later this spring. For more information, visit , , , or

 Canada Performed well at CONCACAF Gold Cup

Canada performed well at Gold Cup 2007 and if their personnel and level of play can be maintained, Canada would have a very good chance of qualifying for World Cup South Africa 2010

The big story out of the CONCACAF Gold Cup semi finals, was the surprising play of Guadeloupe and the controversial offside called by the referee in the semi final game between Canada and USA. The offside call negated a second goal scored by Canada which would have tied the game in the dying seconds of injury time, with USA playing with 10 players due to a red card. On the play in question, it was obvious that the assistant referee (linesman) who made the call did not have the best of angle on the play and as a result it was the only decision he thought that could have been made. The public had the luxury of a replay and a better camera angle, which showed that the play was not off side. Nevertheless, those are the breaks of the game and it was too little, too late for Canada.

However Canada overall defensive effort in the Gold Cup was outstanding and the team also showed that it can score goals to win the big games in the tournament.

Canada is on to the semifinals

Gold Cup Report 16/JUN/07 – Dwayne De Rosario opened the scoring in the 17th minute by tapping in a shot from Ali Gerba. Gerba found his way onto the score sheet in the 33rd minute after great buildup work in the offensive third, and added his second and his team’s in the 44th minute by deflecting a Julian De Guzman shot.

Canada started the brighter of the two sides and nearly opened the scoring after 12 minutes. After Dwayne De Rosario was fouled out on the left wing, Canada midfielder Martin Nash swung a free kick into the far post. Andrew Hainault was first to it, but his effort towards the gaping net was deflected wide.
There was no respite for the flat-footed Guatemalan defense in the 17th minute as Canada claimed the lead. Paul Stalteri played a diagonal ball through the Guatemalan backline onto the run of Ali Gerba. Gerba slid his effort toward the far post, where the onrushing De Rosario tapped home.
The second goal nearly arrived six minutes later, as Canada took advantage of some miscommunication on the Guatemalan defensive line. Atiba Hutchinson’s effort from 14 yards was blocked, but the rebound fell to Julian De Guzman. His effort was only kept out by a diving save from Guatemalan goalkeeper Carlos Trigueno.
Canada’s second goal came in the 33rd minute through an intricate passing movement. The goal started with De Rosario on the left playing the ball inside to Hutchinson, who slotted a ball behind the defense to De Guzman. De Guzman played from the byline across the face of goal to the waiting Gerba, who had a simple finish to double the Canadian lead.
The Canadian lead was extended to three a minute before halftime. Ante Jazic found space down the left hand flank and played a pass back to De Guzman on the edge of the penalty area. De Guzman scuffed his shot towards goal, but the effort hit off the right heel of Gerba and deflected off the right post and past Trigueno into the net.
After the interval, De Rosario had an early chance to grab his second of the contest in the 50th minute. De Rosario was played through on goal by Gerba, but he could only manage a tame shot that failed to trouble Trigueno.
Guatemala had a penalty appeal turned away in the 62nd minute as Pat Onstad and substitute Mario Rodriguez collided inside the Canadian penalty area, but the contact was dismissed by referee Courtney Campbell.
It was a matter of both teams playing out time, as Guatemala could not find a way to penetrate the Canadian defense and Canada was not pressing forward because of its advantage.
There was one last chance for De Rosario in the 89th minute. De Rosario earned a free kick on the edge of the Guatemalan penalty area after shaking free from Medina. De Rosario curled the resulting free kick around the wall, but Trigueno dove and tipped the ball around the box.
Miller Lite Player of the Match: Ali Gerba (Canada)
On today’s game:
“We felt going into the game that our game was to not get counterattacked upon and deny service to Ruiz. I thought my backline had an excellent game.”
“The victory was nice. I thought in the first half, we were balanced. We attacked well and we defended well. It was a game of two halves. In the second half, we had to defend.”
On Guatemala’s performance:  “I was very surprised. I thought they would play similar to the way they played against the United States. We were fortunate to get a goal early. That puts pressure on the opponent. We had to hold the lead long enough to put pressure on them and we did that.”
On today’s game:
“It is very easy to score when you play around quality players. It makes your job easy.”
On today’s game:
“Canada was superior in all points of the game. They were in better condition than us. The three or four times they got to our goal, they were able to finish.”
“After losing 3-0, it’s hard to say anything to our fans. You’re blind after that.”
On how the Gold Cup works to integrate players for World Cup Qualifying:
“It’s hard to incorporate people into the team. We have to work from the group up to develop players. We have to prepare in every possible way, including physically.”
“The country is anxious for immediate results. I’m not scared of the pressure.”

CAN: 14 – Dwayne De Rosario (10 – Ali Gerba), 17’
CAN: 10 – Ali Gerba (6 – Julian DeGuzman), 33’
CAN: 10 – Ali Gerba (6 – Julian DeGuzman), 44’
CAN: 22 – Pat Onstad (GK), 3 – Ante Jazic, 5 – Andrew Hainault, 6 – Julian DeGuzman, 7 – Paul Stalteri © , 10 – Ali Gerba (17 – Iain Hune, 67’), 11 – Richard Hatsings, 13 – Atiba Hitchinson (20 – Chris Pozniak, 90’), 14 – Dwayne De Rosario (18 – Issey Kakajima-Farran, 89’), 15 – Patrick Bernier, 16 – Martin Nash
DNP / No jugaron: 23 – Robert Giacomi (GK), 2 – Adam Braz, 8 – Kevin Harmse, , 19- Antonio Ribeiro,
TD: Stephen Hart
Scarborough UTD

CONCACAF Gold Cup Quarterfinals

The Gold Cup quarter finals opened between Canada and Guatemala at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. In this game Canada stifled Guatemala’s offense on their way to a commanding 3-0 halftime lead.

 Canada was on the offensive from the get go, and although they missed a few scoring chances, Dwayne De Rosario made it 1-0 for Canada at the 17th minute mark, after he redirect an Ali Gerber shot into the Guatemala net. Canada’s defensive intensified as they sniffed out every offensive play by Guatemala much to the disgust of the pro Guatemala crowd.

Canada scored two more goals, both by striker Ali Gerber at the 33rd and 44th minute mark and coasted through the second half to book their ticket to the semi final. Ali Gerber was voted Man of the Match for his big goals and strong offensive presence. Canada was into the semi finals to play the winner of the second double header.

The second quarter final was played between USA and Panama.  Most people considered this game to be he biggest test for USA after they dominated the B Group without a loss and without conceding a goal. Panama was also the best playing team in the tournament at that point but was reeling a bit after a tough loss to Mexico two days earlier.

The game was a display of emotions and indiscipline by Panama as they questioned every unfavorable call by the referee. The game entered the second half of play tied 0-0 as USA took the lead on a penalty kick in the 60th minute after Landon Donavan was hauled down by Carlos Rivera. Donavan converted from the penalty spot and USA increased their lead minutes later on a neat header by Carlos Bocanegra from a DaMarcus Beasley in swinging cross. 

Canada win CONCACAF Gold Cup Group A

Costa Rica, Canada, and Haiti were favored to advance out of Group A, but apparently no one told that to Guadeloupe, as they sprung the biggest surprise of the tournament.  Canada had the challenge of trying to dethrone Costa Rica as the third seed team in CONCACAF, while Costa Rica was anticipating a move to replace USA as the # 2 team in the region. Guadeloupe was supposed to be just in the tournament for the first time experience.

However when group play began it seemed like the match ups in this group were a lot tougher than the coaches anticipated and the coaches adjustments made the games uninspiring and lacking in excitement. Winning and losing became paramount and the only team that had a distinctive style of play was Costa Rica.  Canada had talented players and was the team to beat. Unlike previous years it seemed like the team composition was not based on any alleged quota system which meant that advancing to the final round was important.

 Costa Rica was questioning lady luck for yet another spell at the big tournament after having to open World Cup 2006 against host Germany and now Canada in the first game of CONCACAF Gold Cup 2007 USA.

On June 6, 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup kicked off under cloudy skies at the Orange Bowl Stadium in Miami where Costa Rica and Canada lock horns. Costa Rica controlled the first half of play but Canada took care of the scoreboard with a double scored by Julian De Guzman in the second half to erase a one goal deficit. Canada won the game 2-1 and gained the early lead in the Group A standings as Guadeloupe and Haiti played to a 1-1 tie in the second game of the double header.

In the second games of the group Canada was caught by surprised and lost to a tough Guadeloupe team 2-1. Guadeloupe defeat of Canada was the start of the upsets of Gold Cup 2007. Haiti and Costa Rica tied 1-1 in the second game of the double header which left three out of the four teams in the group under pressure to advance. Heading into the third group A games Guadeloupe was the only team which had secured a spot into the second round with four points. Canada stood in second place with three points as Costa Rica and Haiti had two points apiece

Canada women lose Heartbreaker to USA 

Canada’s women soccer team suffered a heartbreaking loss to USA on a penalty kick called in the dying seconds of the second half of overtime. The game was played at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California and the infraction occurred when Canada’s #18- Robyn Gayle, attempt to screen out a USA player. Canada entered the game having secured a spot at the women World Cup 2007 in China after defeating Jamaica 4-0 in the semi final days earlier.

Unlike the Jamaica game Canada fell behind early. USA took a 1-0 lead against the run of play on a goal scored by Leslie Osborne from a rebound. Canada showed character and returned the favor in the 40th minute after midfielder Randee Hermus pounced on a rebound and unleashed a left foot half volley into the roof of the USA net.

The second half saw USA in total command but not exactly in control. As a result time expired in regulation play with the score still tied to send the game into overtime.

Overtime usually spells p-r-e-s-s-u-r-e for the favorite team and in this game it looked no different. The pressure was clearly on USA to get a score before the introduction of the dreaded penalty kicks. The arrival of penalty kicks means that the ego of favored team can be broken and in that light, the underdog’s chances are better.

USA, desperate to end the game was moving forward with everything in attack which opened up their defensive coverage somewhat, and Canada’s striker Christine Sinclair shot wide from a golden opportunity to score. On the other end of the field Canada’s goalkeeper Erin McLeod was kept busy and responded well with some brilliant saves that kept Canada in the game.

With no ticks left on the clock USA made a long throw into the Canadian 6 yard box that created the untimely penalty that was scored by USA striker Christine Lilly. As a result USA defeated Canada 2-1 to win the Gold Cup 2006.

Canada and USA women team advance to the World Cup 2007 in China while third place Mexico will play Japan in a home and away series to advance. The Mexicans clinched third spot by eliminating Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago by the same score of 3-0. 

Canada women Advance to W/C

Canada women’s soccer team lead by captain Christine Sinclair two goals, secured a spot at the women World Cup 2007 in China. They defeated Jamaica 4-0 in the first semi final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup played at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California and will meet the winner of the Mexico versus USA on Sunday. Jamaica will have to wait to play the loser of the next semi final for the third spot to face Japan (from the Asian Football Confederation) in a home-and-away playoff for the final berth in the FIFA tournament.

Christine Sinclair led the Canadian attack with two goals in the 40th and 70th minute while Rhian Wilkinson and Melanie Booth both scored in the 51st and 88th minute respectively. Although Canada had defeated Jamaica four times previously (with a goal differential of 31:0), this game was anticipated to be a close encounter by the recent showing of the Jamaica defense.
The Jamaica women started well but as the game progressed Canada shut down their early advances and systematically took control of the midfield.  Canada missed several  good scoring opportunities and one was beginning to wonder if those missed chances was going to be their downfall. However the talented Sinclair made no mistake in the 40th minute when she chest trap a cross from the right side at the far post and buried a left foot volley into the net to open scoring just before the half.

The second half started with Canada piling on the pressure but for the most part the play was a little shabby.  Rhian Wilkinson scored the second goal with a neat placement from a backward cross along the ground from Sinclair after Sinclair ran out of real estate after eluding the Jamaica defense. Sinclair closed out her play after pouncing on a rebound off the cross bar and showed the calm of a veteran when she hammered home the ball pass the stranded Jamaica goalkeeper to give Canada a comfortable 3-0 lead.

Although Canada had their way in terms of the run of play, the Jamaicans deserve a lot of credit for keeping their composure and doing a decent job of ball possession in the second half of the game in spite of the score. In  future Canada would have to concentrate on more ball possession in games where they have a sizable lead. This tactic can be very effective in preventing injuries.

 All in all it was a good display of aggressive soccer by Canada and Jamaica would have to regroup for their next game for third place against most likely Mexico.

 Canada – 22-McLeod, Erin; 2-Kiss, Kristina (18-Gayle, Robyn, 77); 3-Booth, Melanie; 8-Matheson, Diana; 9-Chapman, Candace; 10-Franko, Martina; 11-Hermus, Randee; 12-Sinclair, Christine (C) (7-Morneau, Isabelle, 75); 13-Walsh, Amy; 16-Wilkinson, Rhian; 17-Timko, Brittany (5-Neil, Andrea, 83)
Head coach: Even Pellerud
Subs not used: 1-Alcia, Leisha; 4-Andrews, Sasha; 6-Schmidt, Sophie; 14-Tancredi, Melissa; 15-Robinson, Jodi-Ann; 19-Vermeulen, Amy

Jamaica – 13–Paula Jackson; 4–Alicia Wilson; 6–Audia Sullivan; 9–Natalya Manyan; 11–Kimmia Parker; 12–Peta-Gaye Soman; 15–Nicola Bell; 16–Yolanda Hamilton; 17–Diane Hue; 18–Stacy-Ann Johnson (10-Hishamar Falconer ,72); 19–Rochelle Bryan (10– Omolyn Davis, 60)
Head coach: Vin Blaine