Women’s World Cup Archive

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FCE fall-season opener conflicts with WWC final: How NASL blew the fall schedule

NASL_logo_previewThe NASL fall schedule came out on Tuesday. And one game sticks out like a sore thumb.

And that’s FC Edmonton’s fall season opener, which will go July 5 at 2 p.m. (local time) against the San Antonio Scorpions. Considering that the game still occurs in the Women’s World Cup window — the money is on that being one of the two fall-season games that will be hosted in Fort McMurray, though the club isn’t expected to confirm those dates till next week.

Oh, did I mention the World Cup window? Actually, the game will happen on the same day as the Women’s World Cup final. The FC Edmonton-San Antonio game kicks off just three hours before the big game at BC Place goes forward.

By playing on the same day as the Women’s World Cup Final, whether it be in Edmonton or Fort McMurray, the Eddies will likely be largely ignored that day. And, flights from Alberta to Vancouver are short in duration and plentiful in supply. So, chances are more than a few Alberta-based fans who could have been at the Eddies game will be in Vancouver for the big final. (Now, those odds are lessened if the game is placed in Fort Mac — as it will likely be treated as a special event).
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Mind games or no mind games? Chinese utilized a strong lineup in loss to the Canadian women

Christine Sinclair

Christine Sinclair

Canada’s final game of the BaoAn Cup was by far the most intriguing of the tournament, even though the Canadian had already clinched the championship.

Why? Because Canada had to face the tournament hosts from China. In a few months time, Canada will open the Women’s World Cup with a group-stage game against the Chinese at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium.

Before the BaoAn Cup, Canadian women’s team coach John Herdman mused that he could approach the game against China in one of two ways — he could play an experimental lineup that might keep the Chinese guessing all the way to June, or play a strong, first-choice team and get the psychological edge by beating the Chinese in their own stadium.

Canada won the game 2-1, with obviously first-choice striker Christine Sinclair scoring twice — one from the penalty spot. Herdman chose to start a strong lineup at least in terms of defending and attacking. But without the services of midfielders Sophie Schmidt and Diana Matheson, he had youngsters Jessie Fleming and Josee Belanger in the mix. Stephanie Labbe started in goal — and Erin McLeod has established herself as the clear No. 1; we’d expect to see McLeod playing the Chinese at the WWC. But, even though youngsters Fleming, Belanger and attacker Janine Beckie got significant minutes, you couldn’t guarantee that those wouldn’t be players you’d see facing China in June.
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Canada will send just 13 allocated players to NWSL in 2015

NWSL-Logo-516x340The Canadian Soccer Association will use only 13 of its available 16 allocation slots in NWSL this season.

Since the launch of NWSL, the CSA has paid the salaries of up to 16 Canadian players in that league, guaranteeing them slots in the top pro circuit in North America. On Wednesday, the list of allocated players for the 2015 season was announced, and there were only 13 names on it. (Find the list at the bottom of the document).

The CSA confirmed that it retained the ability to allocate up to 16 players in 2015. A CSA representative told us that some of the player who could have been allocated have chosen instead to pursue other opportunities outside of NWSL.

According to the CSA, “Canadian National Team players will remain in the Centralized Development Program to begin and train in that environment throughout the season, but will have the opportunity to participate in the first three to four NWSL matches before the start of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The NWSL will also a take brief 12-day break during the group stages of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 in Canada.”

Midfielder Desiree Scott, who left NWSL last season to play in England with Notts County, is not on the allocation list. In the current issue of Plastic Pitch, she said that she will decide where she will go after the Women’s World Cup, but was enthusiastic over a possible return to England. Interestingly, Rhian Wilkinson, who withdrew herself from the NWSL last season, will return in 2015.
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Sinclair wins Player of the Year honour for 11th straight time; says she has become a more complete player

sincy2014She’s Canada’s all-time leading scorer, but she only scored once for the national team in 2014.

But the drop-off in goal production didn’t stop Christine Sinclair from being named the Women’s National Player for the 11th straight year. You’d have to go back to 2003 to find someone else other than Sinclair (Charmaine Hooper, for the trivia buffs) who has won the award.

Sinclair also scored seven times for the Portland Thorns of the NWSL.

While she said that the drop-off in scoring has weighed on her mind, Sinclair insisted that she’s become “a more complete soccer player” under the tutelage of coach John Herdman. She said that she’s become more of a leader on the team, and she’s also been asked to perform other tasks than simply go up top and score goals. She’s been asked to drop into a midfield role on occasion.
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PLASTIC PITCH 4 is out today!

10349900_1008071179208840_1372189140274955851_nIssue 4 of Plastic Pitch is out today!

What will you find inside?

• We profile Canadian keeper John Smits, winner of the NASL’s Golden Glove award;

• We sit down with Desiree Scott to talk about her decision to leave NWSL for England, and how she feels about Canada’s preparations for the Women’s World Cup

• Canadians in indoor soccer; a look at the Milwaukee Wave and its Canadian coach, Giuliano Oliviero, and its Canadian star player, Ian Bennett. And we look at how the new Major Arena Soccer League could finally stabilize the pro indoor game in North America

• We look at the birth, successes and trials of League1 Ontario.
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Teams visit WWC sites: Commonwealth praised, BC Place blasted

“The turf in Vancouver, in my opinion, is not good enough for the World Cup.”

PHOTO ABOVE: Dutch coach Roger Reijners, Australian coach Alen Stajcic, Swedish coach Pia Sundhage, Swiss coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg

The days following the Women’s World Cup draw has seen the coaches and managers of the 23 visiting teams travelling throughout Canada and checking out the venues.

Managers from Sweden, Switzerlands, the Netherlands and Australia were at snow-covered Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Tuesday. Organizers were able to plow out a strip of turf from underneath a heavy blanket of the white stuff so the coaches could actually inspect the playing surface.

All four of the managers said they are making preparations for a World Cup played entirely on turf. The Dutch played all of their home qualifiers on turf and will play all upcoming friendlies on turf, said coach Roger Reijners.

But Swiss coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg said that the venue that will host the World Cup final simply isn’t good enough. She said that Commonwealth’s turf is just fine — and the turf is good quality. But the Polytan surface she saw at BC Place worried her.
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Round one to the CSA: Human Rights Tribunal co-chair won’t rush the turfgate case

fwwc2015_oe_4ct_lThe Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has rejected a plea to expedite its hearing of the grass vs. turf case.

A group of women’s players, including Americans Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach, Germany’s Nadine Angerer and Japan’s Yuki Ogimi had petitioned the HRTO to hear their plea against the use of artificial turf fields at the 2015 Women’s World Cup. The Canadian Soccer Association and FIFA have defended the use of the artificial-turf fields, while the women’s players named in the suit (a total of 15 on the document) wanted to speed the case forward in hopes of getting a ruling in favour of grass in time for it to have an impact on the WWC.

The CSA’s lawyers have stated that they doesn’t feel the HRTO has the jurisdiction to rule on a Women’s World Cup, as five of the six venues being used in the tournament are located outside of the province of Ontario.

On Friday, HRTO co-chair Jo-Anne Pickel rejected the players’ plea to expedite the case, basically killing any chance to have it heard in time to have a meaningful impact on the WWC.

She wrote that, as expedited cases put all other matters before the HRTO on the back burner, it would be unfair to all the other applicants. It would be unfair of the HRTO to delay other cases of racial, workplace and/or gender discrimination to accommodate the players.
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Turfgate: FIFA’s Valcke affirms that a men’s World Cup could be staged on turf

fifa-logoIn an interview/press release posted on FIFA.com, FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke said that a men’s World Cup played on artificial turf could be organized sooner rather than later.

More of Valcke’s statement:

“By the way, for many years now, any organizer of a FIFA event — irrespective of whether it be a men’s or women’s competition, including the men’s World Cup – has had the right to propose for the tournament to be played on artificial turf, provided that it is of the highest quality and the same playing surface is used for all venues and training sites. It could well be that sooner rather than later the men’s World Cup will also be played on artificial pitches. The Canadian Soccer Association proposed for the tournament to be played on artificial turf based on the fact that most sporting infrastructure in Canada is on artificial turf, primarily due to the extreme climate in the host country. It would be very difficult to ensure solid natural-grass pitches at all venues. As has already been explained, this is not a question of money, or of differences between men’s and women’s events, but it is a matter of the natural conditions in Canada: We want to guarantee consistent top-level playing conditions for all 24 teams during the event, both in the official stadiums and at the training sites. This has been the sole reason behind the decision to play on artificial turf from day one.”

This statement is an important one. While no doubt many will scoff at the notion of a men’s World Cup being played on turf — and will say that Valcke is simply playing politics — this statement from a top FIFA official carries weight. Why? The legal team representing the women’s players who are taking the CSA to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario claim that their clients are being asked to play their World Cup on turf, when it’s something FIFA would never ask of the men. But FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association can now say, “if it’s good enough for women, it’s good enough for men.”
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It’s oh so quiet: Japan trounces Canada in front of disappointing crowd

A photo of the, ahem, announced crowd of 9,654.

A photo of the, ahem, announced crowd of 9,654.

I hate writing soccer-attendance stories. They remind me of the times I used to have to lobby and lobby editors to give a soccer story a little more space, or any space at all.

So, just the writing this column is making me owly and growly.

On Saturday, the Women’s World Cup champions from Japan came to Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium to play the Canadian women’s national team. The friendly was announced months ago — and, outside of the rivalry with the Americans, is probably about as “tier one” a matchup as the Canadian Soccer Association could arrange.

The Japanese and Canadian players came out to see a heck of a lot of yellow and green empty seats. In a city that is hosting more Women’s World Cup games in 2015 than any other, a visit from the reigning champions of the world was greeted with indifference. A stadium that holds a little less than 60,000 welcomed an announced crowd of 9,654 who watched the Japanese march to a convincing 3-0 win. But, to the naked eye, it looked like the actual number of bums in seats was much lower than the announced attendance. Half of the stadium was closed to fans. Only 10 sections had fans in them, and they were maybe two-thirds full. Each of those sections has 45 rows, with 16 seats per row. That’s 10 X 45 X 16 = 7,200. And those sections were two-thirds full — so maybe, at best, 5,000 fans in the stadium.

Goalkeeper Erin McLeod, who hails from the area, saw the glass as being half full.

“I heard (before the game) that we had 8,000 sold,” she said. “So at first I was like, ‘huh,’ but, you know, looking at the stadium today, it looked pretty full on the west side. Of course, we always want more but a part of it is us putting on a good game. There were lots of exciting parts to this match. So, hopefully, they were happy and they will come back for the World Cup.”
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Desiree Scott is open to Notts County return after Women’s World Cup (PLASTIC PITCH preview)

Desiree Scott in Notts County colours

Desiree Scott in Notts County colours

(Look for the full Q and A with the Destroyer, Desiree Scott, in the winter issue of Plastic Pitch. Issue 4 should be out in December. For info on how to get Plastic Pitch, go to the end of this post).

Canadian midfielder Desiree Scott won’t be returning to pro soccer until after next year’s Women’s World Cup.

She’s committed to Canada’s eight-month training camp ahead of the Women’s World Cup, and she’s devoting her time to the national-team cause. That includes Saturday’s friendly against Japan at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium and the Oct. 28 rematch against the World Cup champs at Vancouver’s BC Place.

But, once the tournament ends, Scott says she will give a Notts County return some serious consideration. In 2014, Scott, who was one of the Canadian players in NWSL who had her salary paid by the Canadoan Soccer Association, decided to leave the U.S.-based league for England. She started 20 games for Notts County in England’s WSL — and certainly caused some waves by making the decision to leave NWSL for an English league that mixes part- and full-time players.

Still, if Notts County wants her back after the Women’s World Cup, chances are that she’ll listen.

“I really enjoyed it,” she said Friday. “Right now, my focus is on the World Cup. I will be full-time with the national-team leading up to that. But, after the World Cup, the options are open. But I did really enjoy it in England and, yes, I would go back. Right now, the plan is to be with the national team, full-time. We are devoted to World Cup prep; and hopefully to raise that trophy on July 5th. I will decide what to do (professionally) after that.”
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