USWNT, Canada reignite bitter rivalry on Sunday

The Equalizer Staff February 19, 2016 77
Hope Solo says USWNT games vs. Canada are always a "bloodbath." (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

Hope Solo says USWNT games vs. Canada are always a “bloodbath.” (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

HOUSTON, Texas — In the grand scheme, Sunday’s CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying final between the United States and Canada means nothing.

Except it clearly means a lot.

The region’s two traditional heavyweights each qualified for the Olympics as expected on Friday, and that was always the main objective. Canada beat Costa Rica, 3-1 and the U.S. rolled past Trinidad and Tobago, 5-0. But with the matchup now set between the two rivals, there is clearly a point to prove on Sunday.

Canada qualified first on Friday, and an exuberant John Herdman spoke minutes after his team’s win about wanting to finish off the tournament right by beating the U.S. — who most everyone assumed would win the nightcap, but who hadn’t actually advanced yet.

“On to the final against the U.S., here we come!” Herdman said. He continued: “We’re over the moon, but we’ve got a big game coming up in two days and we want to land on the moon and get home safely, so that’s the job of another group of players coming up against the U.S.”

[MORE: Does CONCACAF qualifying system of cramming games need overhaul?]

USA-Canada games are traditionally physical and at times nasty matches. The animosity between the teams is hardly secretive. After Friday’s U.S. victory, goalkeeper Hope Solo discussed how Canada’s overly physical play alters how the Americans approach matches against their northern neighbors.

“I love playing Canada. It always tends to be a bloodbath,” Solo said. “It’s a physical game, I get to be involved a little bit more. So, I don’t think it’s necessarily the most prettiest games when we play Canada, but hopefully with this new group of players, we’ll find a way around that, we’ll find a way around their kind of American football style of play. We’ll try to move the ball more around them and not get into that kind of blood match that we tend to do against Canada. That’ll be interesting to see if we can outplay them in that respect, because we don’t tend to previously. We kind of get into that physical match. That’ll be interesting to see if we can just move the ball, and we’ll have creative players on the field and keep possession and put them in their place.”

Solo also noted that the rivalry is somewhat one-sided. Sunday’s meeting will be the 56th all-time between Canada and the U.S., tying Canada with China as the most frequent opponent in U.S. history. The U.S. has won 46 meetings; Canada has three victories against the Americans. They last met on May 8, 2014, a 1-1 draw in Winnipeg. Canada hasn’t beaten the U.S. since March 11, 2001. Their most famous meeting came in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics, when Alex Morgan’s 123rd minute goal — the latest in FIFA history — lifted the U.S. to a 4-3 win in game rife with controversy and drama. It is considered one of the greatest soccer games ever played.

“I think they have more of a rivalry with us than we do with them,” Solo said. “Because I think they always want to prove that their growing the game in their country and they’ve come a long way, but I think that they want to be the best and they want to beat the Americans. But I think we get frustrated because it tends to be such a physical game that it takes us out of the quality of soccer that we want to play. So it is definitely a rivalry for us in that respect, because we want to play great soccer, and we never play our best game against Canada because it is such a physical game.”

In other words:

***

Harjeet Johal contributed to this report from Houston, Texas.

  • guest

    Solo has a point, games against Canada tend to be pretty ugly. As great as that game in 2012 was there were plenty overly aggressive plays from Canada that went unpunished by the ref, particularly the fact that Tancredi stayed in the game after so many fouls, including that intentional head stomp on Carli. That was the last time they played a game worth mentioning.

    • fourTurns

      the sin of omission. not mentioning that the ref was most chastised for her free kick call and then penalty kick call.

      • Steglitz49

        The ref in the final was no improvement — except for the US.

  • Cc W

    Tancredi and Sinclair are going to try and use their size to their advantage – but I don’t think they are any better than what the US faced against Germany. Sasic, Mittag, Popp are strong players and the US held their own. Horan could be a factor against CAN. The US can use their speed to take advantage of a young defense. I’m guessing Carli and the whole team remembers Tancredi’s actions and will want to make her feel the pain of losing rather than cheap shots.

    • Vladlagg

      I was at the ‘Peg game and the US stole a draw in the dying minutes… However, the current US squad and Canada are a generation removed from that match, but I’ll enjoy the outcome either way.

    • mockmook

      Horan will be a factor in the USA losing if she has to defend Sinclair and company.

      Free Horan!!! Put her at CAM!!!

      • ARED

        I’d argue Sinclair would seem to be the kind of (good) player Horan would defend best against. Not too fast, smart, and pretty big. You might use similar terms to describe Horan….

        Horan for Lloyd: Maybe.
        Horan with Lloyd: Not for me (esp after the strong performance last match).

        • mockmook

          It is almost an iron-clad rule of thumb, that any big, lumbering player who seems to just jog around, will at some point astonish you with a burst of speed. Wambach (the younger), Holiday, and Sinclair have all done it for me — but they save these bursts for the rare instances where they absolutely need them.

          Horan was caught behind a player last game, and she gave everything she had to catch up — it wasn’t pretty. More importantly, it wasn’t fast.

          So, if Sinclair wants to smoke Horan, she will. Regardless, Sinclair isn’t the only player CAN might send past Horan.

          RE: Horan and Lloyd
          I haven’t advocated they start together as dual CAMs (if that’s what you mean).

          • ARED

            Yeah -Holiday definitely lost speed as her career went on, but she used to be pretty quick -surely a more effective all-around forward than Wambach for me -from 2011 on. Through WC15 she still showed good speed I’d say, if only in bursts like you describe. Sinclair has lost more, or maybe never had it, but now she can’t cover enough ground fast enough for long enough against good teams. Even against CR she was simply a bit lucky the ball came right to her twice.

            Horan -Should be her number one priority, b/c I think the combo of her and Brian need to improve, and I think Horans speed and range are the biggest issues there. They both need to improve their speed of play as well, but that’s a separate issue.

          • mockmook

            No amount of training is going to change her speed by more than a fraction — it’s not like she rehabbing an injury (as far as we know), this is natural.

  • jmclarke

    It seems to me that both teams have been pushing youth pretty hard since the WC. I’m sort of thinking that the classic “slugfest” narrative of this matchup might have seen it’s peak a couple of years ago. They both look like they are trying to be a lot more elegant in their style of play. No matter who comes out on top Sunday, I want to see that evolution continue.

    • guest

      And yet Canada committed 25 fouls against Costa Rica…

      • necron99

        Just watch how many uncalled fouls were committed by Desiree Scott. She gets called for maybe 1 in 10. She was honestly shocked that she was called for the penalty in the box because she had committed that same foul many times during the game and was not called.

        • Steglitz49

          The lack of quality of the refereeing in WoSo has long been recognized. It is one of WoSo’s Achilles heels.

    • necron99

      You only need to look at this Chapman quote from the other article. “We don’t let them in behind, that’s our first goal,” Chapman said. “We
      also like to smash them off the front so I think we did both today
      pretty well.”

      Same CanWNT style as before. They just have younger more talented and more athletic players to do it with than before.

    • ARED

      I agree it’d be nice to see that continue, but I think Canada still will have that element there. Canada has looked decent in passing/movement/etc, with some youth as well as Matheson back and Belanger playing regularly. Still, in the Costa Rica match they were physical, and Costa Rica were arguably the more elegant team. Two of Canada goal came on an aerial balls in the box CR could not win/clear (one a good ball, the other a lucky bounce) -both of which ended up with Sinclair. The third was a simple long ball where Tancredi drew two defenders to try to defend the aerial ball. Tancredi fouled one (to me), all three ended up letting the ball go, and it was a clean break from there behind the defense.

      So, as much as Canada has looked better/ok, if Costa Rica had two or even one bigger defender Canada might not have created any goals. Add the fouls and penalty against, and my verdict for now is that any changes to the USA-CAN matchup will have to be initiated by the Stars and Stripes (and I expect this to be the case).

      • kernel_thai

        Sinclair isnt moving very well and CR just let her grab two goals by camping out at the top of the box

        • ARED

          Yep, exactly. She finished the very well, as she still can, but I felt a bit bad for Costa Rica that all three goals against had an element of bad luck. They could really stand to have one strong, 5’11 CB or GK to attack those balls….lol.

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  • MARTA TRUE G.O.A.T

    Solo quiets is a poet

  • dirkmcquickly

    When has Canada ever done anything besides 2012? They were horrible in the World Cup IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY.

    • Steglitz49

      One must not mock the afflicted. Even Pellerud rules OK?

  • chive-on

    Canada’s game is still dull and boring from what I’ve seen. Still rely a lot on overly physical play, no creativity. The only player that seems like the exception to that, that uses actual skill and technical ability in addition to some physicality, is Matheson. Solo is right, for the most part playing them is like playing rugby. I just really hope nobody gets injured, I’m kind of nervous actually lol. In a game that doesn’t mean squat, I’m hoping certain players get some rest. Too important to risk injury.

  • GNC

    Does anyone know where I can rewatch that 2012 Semifinal?

    • Steglitz49

      4 years ago? FIFA may have highlights still. The only highlight worth bothering with is HAO’s cross to Alex’s head.

      To score a winner in the dying seconds in the Theatre of Dreams! Of such things, legends are made.

      • Vladlagg

        Disagree. Pinoe’s Olimpico was kinda important there as well. https://youtu.be/eNHZoloStm4

        • Steglitz49

          Pinoe is not a legend. Alex and Abby are.

    • Cc W

      I’m pretty sure it is on youtube – I watched it not to long ago. Just looked for the link, but now I can’t find it. I’ll keep looking and post if I find it.

      • GNC

        Thanks! If you can find it that’s be great. I’ve found it on Dailymotion, although its the Canadian broadcast and painful to listen to.

        • mockmook
          • Vladlagg

            Mauri is the bestest, indeed. The *DMCA* leaves me loathe to link her tumble.

          • mockmook

            Luckily, I have no conscience — sociopaths have all the fun!!!

          • mockmook

            BTW, do you believe the video you provided is “clean”?

        • Vladlagg

          The Canadian broadcast is the best! My favorite line is “sour grapes” at the end. Love it!

      • x

        The Olympics youtube channel (user Olympic) has every women’s soccer game from 2012 –except– USA-CAN. And there’s one pair of games whose labels are mixed up, but I forget which.

    • Vladlagg

      Yes. For some reason the NBCOlympics YouTube channel deleted the game. Bing! of all search engines turned up a copy on Vimeo. https://vimeo.com/66927576

    • mockmook
  • Paul Cech

    Not noted domestic abuser Hope Solo commenting on physicality. Hmm.

    • mockmook

      Best to go to “experts” when you want commentary, am I right?

      (though strong, world class athlete Solo seems to be an amateur at actually hurting anyone)

  • JN West

    Its a bitter rivalry for Canadians who haven’t beat the U.S. in 15 years. A pesky annoyance for Americans, who have to worry about getting injured right before a major tournament.

    • ARED

      Very true, especially about the injury concerns. Was it Johnston, or maybe Brian who received the red-card challenge against T&T? Thought that looked very dangerous, and not at all the type of tackles the USA will want to be seeing….

  • mockmook

    Let’s play our B-ish team and see how these “schlubs” do against the Monsters of the Moose Country:

    • Breakers fan

      Only change I would propose – to make it more “schlubby”, that is, in most people’s minds: Dunn at the #9, Morgan on left forward wing, Pugh in for M. Brian.

      • mockmook

        I think every possible second of experience is important for young starters like Brian.

        I suppose I would be OK with Dunn for Press — but, I want to see them both tested against CAN — whoever doesn’t start needs to play significant minutes off the bench.

        • Breakers fan

          Gotcha — makes good sense. I certainly like having Brian in the game. I was trying to push your “schlub” theme even more with my suggestion.

          • mockmook

            BTW, I’m really torn about starting Alex. She had a pretty good game vs TRI, but is she really out of her funk?

            If she plays badly against CAN, we may have to endure many more games of trying to build her back up (I don’t think JE will try benching her).

          • Breakers fan

            You know me – I’m a steadfast Alex fan and supporter. And I agree that Jill probably won’t bench her.

  • mskillens

    I really hope the ref has plenty of cards when the thugs come out to play on Sunday.

    • kernel_thai

      From a US perspective, the best thing that could happen is for Scott to get a yellow card on the opening kick off

  • SpiritFan80

    Canada has always been the “little sister” to the US when it comes to soccer. You always want to try to prove you are just as good as your older siblings. This leads them to often play with a chip on their shoulder. They play physical against every team, but seem to turn it up a notch against the US. I think this is sometimes their downfall and why they haven’t gone further in important tournaments. I believe Herdman is looking to move away somewhat from this overly physical style. He’s brought in a lot of very young, more technical players. They’ve done pretty well. I have been really impressed with Belanger, thought she was their best player all tournament. Fast, smart, created a lot of chances. Excited to watch her play for the Pride in the NWSL this season.
    As a US fan I would love to see the Canadians up their game and make it less of a one-sided rivalry. I have grown to love some of the Canadian players from watching them in the NWSL. Just hope all players on both sides use their heads during today’s match. No stupid fouls risking injury to anyone.

  • Bbgallant

    Except they’ll be playing their best and bringing their A game cause they know they GOTTA against CAN

    • mockmook

      Who or what are you replying to?

  • Breakers fan

    So what are you all going to do in terms of watching this game: Are you going to watch it on-line live at 5 or wait for the tv broadcast at 10? I’m going to wait for the tv showing at 10, so will be avoiding this forum until after I’ve seen it.

    • guest

      Let’s just say…We have ways of watching it.

      • Breakers fan

        Not sure I get your meaning, beyond what I already noted – that one can watch it at 5 or at 10.

        • guest

          Yes!!! We’ll be watching at 5 at an undisclosed internet location.. I’m not going to walk around with fingers in my ears “Blah blah blah!” like you have to do with NBC every time a big Olympics event is occurring and they won’t show it live.

          • Breakers fan

            I know…I hate that! That’s the risk I’m taking by waiting. It’s hard but I think I can pass the time successfully maintaining ignorance of the outcome. If I fail i’m gonna be pissed.

          • Breakers fan

            I think your use of “we” there is accurate – that most people who frequent this forum will watch it at 5.

    • mockmook

      Don’t know why you’ll be avoiding this forum (all you’ll get here, per usual, is unintelligible gibberish and pooh tossing).

    • You can watch the TV broadcast at 5 if you want to watch in Spanish. It’s airing live on NBC Universo.

      • Breakers fan

        Ooohhh, intriguing…..thank you very much, Slicey! I’m undecided at this time whether I’ll do this. I very well might. (assuming I get that channel, which I think I do).

        • I may watch the Spanish TV broadcast, but listen to the English commentary online. 😉

          • Breakers fan

            Didn’t think of that – hope they’re synched up right. If I do this I’ll be blasting my computer speakers down a hallway.

        • schoup

          If you get NBC Universo your cable pkg most likely has NBC SN which means you can just login to Live extra and watch the game live on online.

          • Yeah, I’d rather watch on a big screen tv than an iPad, though.

          • mockmook

            Speaking of FCKC…. 😉

            Did you see where I posted a while back that Averbuch was the CAM (to much acclaim) for her last few years at UNC?

            Of course, NCAA Championship, retired jersey number, and whatnot.

            So, I’m all in for her to be the new FCKC CAM — it’s all blue skies ahead….

          • Breakers fan

            Who’s the consensus pick as being penciled in for that position at this time?

          • mockmook

            I don’t think there is one. But, Slicey may know.

            I’d say the consensus is that it ISN’T Averbuch 🙂

          • Breakers fan

            I think you’re right and I also think your insight into a possibility for outfitting this position could be a good one.

          • I wouldn’t mind seeing her in that position to see it it works, but I also like Mandy Laddish as an option.

    • kevin

      i will do the same and wait till 10 to watch on the big screen. time for radio silence.

      • Breakers fan

        {[(…………………………………………………………………………..)]}

  • schoup

    Same starting lineup as Friday

  • schoup

    Btw, for people who don’t have Live Extra you can watch the game on live stream with Canada feed…from Sportsnet one.