Home Global Game Europe With Canada booked for Commonwealth U20WWC quarter-final, the comparisons to 2002 will begin

With Canada booked for Commonwealth U20WWC quarter-final, the comparisons to 2002 will begin

Comments Off on With Canada booked for Commonwealth U20WWC quarter-final, the comparisons to 2002 will begin


It is a number that’s special in Canadian soccer history. And it’s a number that we all knew would, sooner or be later, be used as measuring stick for this year’s U-20 Women’s World Cup.

Now that Canada has booked itself a U20WWC quarter-final date with Germany at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, that number has become relevant. It represents a shining star in Canadian soccer history, and also puts so much pressure on the venue organizers.

It’s a long shot that 47,784 or more spectators will show up at Commonwealth on Saturday for the Canada-Germany quarter-final. But we know it will be the comparison that will be used by so many members of the Edmonton and the national media.

In 2002, when Canada first hosted a FIFA women’s youth tournament — it was then known as the U-19 Women’s World Championship — a city fell in love with a Canadian team that featured teenagers Christine Sinclair and Kara Lang. And, when the final pitted these loveable Canadians against the arch-enemy Americans, it was a perfect storm for ticket sales. The 47,784 supporters who showed up set a standard for international youth soccer — men or women — that hasn’t been matched since.

Now, Edmonton hasn’t had the chance to see this Canadian team in 2014. It was stationed in Toronto and Montreal for the group stage — so the Edmonton fans haven’t had the chance to be courted by the Canadian team as they were with the 2002 edition. And, while the Germans beat the Americans in the group stage and have showed that they can score goals in bunches, we simply can’t find it in ourselves to loathe the Germans as easily as we loathe the Americans. (Just a temporary thing, friends to the south! We love your southern states, your bourbon, your barbecue, beaches and In ’N Out Burgers!)

Still, organizers had to be jumping for joy Tuesday night after Janine Beckie scored in the open North Korean net in Montreal to give Canada a 1-0 lead (and, eventually, a 1-0 win). If Canada won by two or more it could have actually won Group A and then went off to BMO Field for a date with the Americans. Good, but not the ideal — in terms of potential ticket sales. BMO would have had great support, but there’s no way you can shoot for a gaudy attendance number unless you get to Commonwealth, in a stadium that looks like a concrete holdover from the Soviet occupation we never had. But, if Canada won by a single goal, it would finish second and guarantee a date in Edmonton — and offer the chance for a big crowd number. Canada obliged by not adding to Beckie’s tally.

Kadeisha Buchanan and her Canadian teammates will be jetting off to Edmonton.

Beckie’s goal came after two clever passes were made in the final third; the first coming in from Amandine Pierre-Louis on the right wing. The second came from Nichelle Prince, who found an unmarked Beckie at the far post.

Now, the Canadian team heads west. Edmonton had more than 10,000 (announced) for each of its first two group-stage double-bills, with another to come on Wednesday. We can assume that’s the base from which organizers will build for the quarter-final. While 47,784 may be a bit much to ask for, would 20,000 be too much to ask? 25K?

As Edmonton will host the opening ceremonies of the Women’s World Cup, Canada’s first two matches of the WWC and more games than any other host city in 2015, Saturday is a big message day for the Alberta capital’s soccer community.


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