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Canadian women lose to Germans by a goal; but it’s a flattering scoreline

Erin McLeod

Erin McLeod

Imagine that 2015 is upon us. We’re coming up to the Women’s World Cup.

If you were asked which of the elite countries we matches up best against, the country our women’s national team would be most likely to upset, chances are the answer would be United States. The U.S. overwhelms you with passion and athleticism, but the rivalry brings out the best in Canada — and John Herdman’s young Canadians have shown that they can handle the athleticism.

And that’s what made Germany’s visit so important. As much as the Americans offer Canada the best possible chance for an upset in 2015, our women’s national team doesn’t match up all that well with sides that are very technical in nature. Our defenders are young and can handle the physical challenges that Abby Wambach and Sydney Leroux might present in 2015; but we’re not so sure if they can handle sides that can pick you apart with a series of precise passes or a clever change of play.

Canada had that very challenge on Wednesday night at BC Place; a high-profile Women’s World Cup tuneup against the Germans. And, even though the scoreline was a respectable 2-1 for the visitors, you’d have a hard time feeling good about this match if you were a Canadian supporter.
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Issue 2 of Plastic Pitch: An in-depth look at Canada’s 2026 World Cup bid

PPitch2_SUMMER_UNCORRECTEDAs we enjoy the current World Cup action from Brazil, Canadians can wonder what it would be like to host the world 12 years from now.

Can we afford it? How far are we into our bid for the 2026 World Cup? What kind of support exists from CONCACAF? And what would happen to all of the hard work that’s already gone into the bid if FIFA takes the 2022 World Cup away from Qatar and gives it to the United States?

The second issue of Plastic Pitch, out today, features a 16-page section on Canada’s bid for the World Cup. Get it today on iOS(CLICK HERE), Google Play(CLICK HERE) or Amazon(CLICK HERE). For current subscribers, just grab the new issue when you open the app.
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Canada scores again in draw with Moldova, while RBC ad burned into brains of supporters

The stream: It was a nice idea, but the execution... not so much.

The stream: It was a nice idea, but the execution… not so much.

I woke up bright and early this morning (had a TV appearance, so I was up and at ‘em at 6 a.m.) and, before heading out the door, checked to see if the Canada-Moldova friendly would be available anywhere online.

I always check the opposing nation’s official site first; it can often give you some leads on whether or not the game will be broadcast in that country. And, lo and behold, the Moldovan Football Federation had this message for all to see — that the Canada-Moldova game would be webcast live via UStream, through the MFF site. I Tweeted it out and was surprised by the amount of retweets, especially by my followers in the West. Like, what time do you people get up?

Oh, the excitement of not having to find a feed on a site where the game is consistently interrupted by requests to chat with potential Russian wives or anime porn!

The stream, coming from what appeared to be a secret Austrian location, fired up right before the national anthems. I was treated to an RBC ad in French. Then, a bit of “O Canada.” Then, the Blue Spinning Wheel of Death. The feed reloaded. The RBC ad again. The blue wheel. Wheel. RBC. Wheel. RBC. Occasionally, the feed would get to point where it would play the whole ad, and I’d see shot from the game, and background chatter that sounded like the kitchen at a really good party. Then, the blue wheel again.

But, thanks to Twitter, we learned that Moldova had gone up a goal just six minutes in thanks to Eugen Sidorenco, who plays his club football in the Russian second division.

Then, came the Twitter chatter of a Canadian goal. There was discussion on whether it came from open play. Then came the confirmation: Tosaint Ricketts had scored after a corner. Andre Hainault headed the ball into the danger area and Ricketts finished.
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De Guzman says that when he’s replaced by a young Canadian, it will be a sign of national-team progress

Julian de Guzman

Julian de Guzman

The world of sports is filled with stories of veterans trying to hang onto their starting jobs, trying to hold off the hungry young pups from taking their spots.

For Canadian national team midfielder Julian de Guzman, nothing will tell him that Canada’s on the road to soccer recovery than when coach Benito Floro tells him that it’s time to let a kid take his spot in the centre of midfield.

It’s not that de Guzman wants to leave the Canadian program; anything but. He says it is still an honour and a pleasure to represent the country. He says that he would love to keep playing, “as long as my legs hold up.”

But, at 33, he understands that he shouldn’t be the surefire first choice to start for Canada in the middle of the park. And he won’t be disappointed when Floro says that a young gun like Bryce Alderson, Kyle Bekker or Samuel Piette will be taking his place.

“I would rather have a young Canadian take my spot,” de Guzman said Monday on a conference call with the media. “It’s the goal of having a better national team.”
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A goal! A goal! Canada scored a goal!

Atiba Hutchinson

Atiba Hutchinson

Canada didn’t win the game, but the men’s national side earned a moral victory.

For the first time in 14 long months, Canadian soccer supporters could celebrate a goal scored by the men’s national side. An actual goal.

In case you’ve forgotten what a goal is — and how could we blame you — that’s when the whole of the ball crosses the opponent’s goal line, in between the goalposts and under the crossbar.

That goal allowed Canada to earn a 1-1 draw with Bulgaria in a friendly played on Austrian soil. Judging by the empty seats, most of the locals didn’t take advantage of the fact that tickets for the game were going for the bargain-basement price of six Euros each.

The goal came off the foot of veteran Atiba Hutchinson, who put his penalty kick just inside the post after teammate Tosaint Ricketts was kicked in the face by a Bulgarian defender.
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Aird’s Canadian repatriation the highlight of the U-20 roster

Fraser Aird

Fraser Aird

The Canadian Soccer Association released the names of the U-20 players who have are currently in Sunrise, Fla. for a week-long camp.

And one name jumps right out at the Canadian soccer supporter. Fraser Aird.

Aird has been the subject of will-he-or-won’t-he talk regarding his international future. Would he play for Canada or would he play for Scotland? And his appearance at Canada’s U-20 camp is helping confirm recent speculation that he’s ready to don Canada’s colours at both the junior and senior levels.

The teen, who is with Rangers, was placed on Canada’s 35-player long list ahead of last year’s Gold Cup. Then-Canada coach Colin Miller had tried to use his longstanding connections with Rangers to try and convince the teen to come play for his birth nation. Miller spoke with Rangers’ manager Ally McCoist last year to try and sell the parties in Scotland on the benefit of having Aird play for Canada. (CLICK HERE)

As a former Rangers player who represented Canada, Miller was hoping the connections would go a long way. But Aird didn’t play for Canada at the Gold Cup, so many of us pessimistic Canadians had pretty well assumed that the teen had committed to Scotland. After all, Aird had previously played for Scotland’s U-17 and U-19 sides.
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Canadian defender Buchanan sends the Americans message after message in Winnipeg

14139001652_c03df59259_zFor the Canadian women’s national team, Thursday’s friendly against the United States didn’t quite feel like a preparation for the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

Coach John Herdman decided to populate three-quarters of his back four with teenagers — players who could very well be playing for Canada at the coming U-20 Women’s World Cup before they get shots to play in the big senior tourney in 2015.

And a large, boisterous crowd in Winnipeg — kudos to the city for doing a great job getting butts in seats on a weekday evening on a night when there’s a full slate of NHL playoff action on the TV — saw Canada take a first-half lead, only to settle for a 1-1 draw.

Three teens — Kadeisha Buchanan, Sura Yekka and Rebecca Quinn — all went the full 90 for Canada. Herdman had said he needed to get his young players into friendlies against a-list opposition, but even Mr. Spock would have let out a yelp of surprise to see Canada decide to stare down Abby Wambach and Sydney Leroux with a crew of teenagers.
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Impact’s Bernier has high regard for FCE coach Miller

Patrice Bernier

Patrice Bernier

Montreal Impact midfielder Patrice Bernier has a lot of respect for FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller.

Miller was in his first stint as the interim coach of men’s national team back in 2003, and he called up Bernier to the squad for a friendly against the Czech Republic. It was Bernier’s first cap for the national team.

“I know Colin from the national team,” Bernier said Tuesday after he and his Montreal Impact teammates finished their training session at a blustery Clarke Stadium. “I know how he expects his team to play.”

He expects a Miller coached team to be a very tight-knit unit and “to come out with conviction.”

Because he knows Miller, Bernier won’t take FC Edmonton for granted when the two teams meet Wednesday in the first leg of their Amway Canadian Championship semifinal. It doesn’t matter to Bernier that Montreal is the defending champion and MLS big-shot, and FC Edmonton sits in last in the 10-team NASL.
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Fixture clash: Floro looking to add two MLS players to Canada’s roster for May friendlies

Benito Floro

Benito Floro

Canadian men’s national team coach Benito Floro is hopeful that he can negotiate the releases of a couple of MLS-based players for a pair of upcoming friendlies.

Floro said Thursday that going with an entirely European-based lineup for an upcoming camp in Austria — with friendlies against Bulgaria (May 23) and Moldova (May 27) — would leave the team short in two positions.

“I would need two MLS players for the two positions,” said Floro. “But we will have to depend on the MLS clubs if they will release them or not.”’
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Looking at the glass half-full: Assessing Canada’s 3-2 U17WWC loss to Venezuela

Marie Levasseur

Marie Levasseur

Without coming off too much like bad high-school newspaper journalism (“they did their best, but, despite their best efforts, came up short”), it’s difficult to assess Canada’s 3-2 loss to Venezuela at the quarter-final stage of the U-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.

Canada’s most glaring problems came in the centre of the defence, where the team was punished regularly for its high line, and not being able to cope with the physical presence of Venezuelan striker Gabriela Garcia. But, we have to remember that these are girls who would are at the Grade 11 age (or maybe even less). We have to remember that defensive awareness comes at a later age than other soccer skills.

So, really, where Canada struggled on Thursday — controlling the speedy Veneuzuelan counterattack — can easily be chalked up to the inexperience of youth.

And, while it’s difficult to go out the U-17 Women’s World Cup, at least it’s better to lose 3-2 — and show some real positive offensive glimpses — than go out to one of those oh-so-Canadian 1-0 or 2-0 defeats, where the commentators will say that we showed great heart but couldn’t create many chances.
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