Canada set friendly with Mexico, eye number 1 ranking

Harjeet Johal October 15, 2016 55
Christine Sinclair, flanked by John Herdman (l) and Peter Montopoli, says she would like a major world trophy for Canada before she retired. (photo copyright Harjeet Johal for The Equalizer)

Christine Sinclair, flanked by John Herdman (l) and Peter Montopoli, says she would like a major world trophy for Canada before she retired. (photo copyright Harjeet Johal for The Equalizer)

VANCOUVER, B.C – Christine Sinclair is not retiring after all. Despite a flurry of activity on social media and fan speculation that Canada’s greatest soccer athlete would be announcing her retirement at a press conference Friday, she is not hanging up her boots anytime soon. You can see Canada’s all-time leading scorer in action on Saturday, February 4, when Canada hosts Mexico at BC Place. This will be the first home match for Canada in Vancouver since hosting the 2015 World Cup.

Sinclair first learned of the premature retirement talk when asked by her family. She quickly assured them that this was not the case. The 33 year-old striker took a humorous approach with her opening statement this morning.

“So I’ve been reading online that this is my retirement announcement, John’s not getting rid of me yet.”

The Burnaby, B.C. native, and her teammates were a big surprise at the 2016 Rio Olympic games as they topped their group and went on to knock off the hosts (Brazil) in a bronze medal match. Canada’s Olympic success helped them jump to fourth in the FIFA world rankings. Sinclair would like to see Canada take an even bigger jump to the number one spot before she calls it quits.

“Coming out of the Olympics, I think that was the biggest surprise,” said Sinclair. “To move that far up in the world rankings, obviously we knew we were going to improve, but to improve six spots is pretty unbelievable, pretty unheard off. The success only makes you want it more, it’d be a nice fitting way to end my career as number one. That would be pretty sweet.”

In order to climb to that coveted number one FIFA world ranking, Canada will need to win a World Cup or Olympic gold. It’s a long way off until the 2019 World Cup in France and the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan, but Sinclair is already focused on winning a major tournament.

“Right now I’ll take the World Cup, because it’s first,” said Sinclair. “Once you’re in the four, five, top six teams, anyone can beat anyone. We’re tired of finishing third, the goal is to win them.”

Taking home the World Cup trophy or winning Olympic gold likely means a showdown with the United States and a victory for Canada. The biggest nemeses for Canada has been the U.S., they are Canada’s main rival and an opponent that brings out the best in the red and white, but not victories. A sleepless John Herdman has been dreaming about the day Canada beats the U.S.

“I know what I’m committed to and what I’m focused on, it’s taking this team to number one and that means beating the U.S. – that’s something that I’ve been dreaming about for a while, and knocking them of their number on perch. Which means you’re going to have to win a World Cup.”

The U.S. is a team that everyone wants to beat, not just Canada. It took Sweden penalty kicks to eliminate the U.S. from the 2016 Rio Olympics, but they proved that playing a defensive tactical match can get the job done. Canada currently doesn’t have a fixture scheduled against Jill Ellis’s team, but they do have a fixation on beating the United States. That could come in 2019 or 2020 when Herdman, Sinclair, and others are in the twilight days with Canada Soccer.

“Someone’s got to say it,” boasted Herdman. “I don’t mind putting my neck on the line. My contracts up in 2020, so this is my last kick at it. It’s gold or bust for me and I’m sure it will be for Christine as well. She’ll be ending her career around that time and some of these other senior players.”

While it’s a mainly one-sided rivalry the respect level is certainly there for players on both sides of the border. Sinclair admires the approach the U.S. takes in every match. Yes, some opponents end up getting battered with a lopsided score-line, but the approach is the same each and every game and win. Sinclair would like to see this mentality adopted by Canada.

“It’s just consistency in every international game we play,” said Sinclair. “The one thing I respect about the Americans, it doesn’t matter who they are playing. Whether it’s Canada, Germany, Venezuela, every game is of the utmost importance. There out to win absolutely every game they play. I think that’s a mentality that we have to adapt.”

If Canada is to reach the lofty goals they have set and take home top prize in a tournament, they can start by dominating Mexico in February. Mexico is a team in flux, disarray, and ripe for a thrashing. Currently without a coach since the departure of Leonardo Cuellar, Mexico has no direction. Canada should be in top form as they celebrate their 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medal.

  • Calci0

    The games between the US and Canada since the 2012 OLG have been tense affairs. Especially the last few. No doubt Canada is getting better, but they need to keep an eye on not just the USWNT…

  • Steglitz49

    Given that Canada is ranked #4 and Mexico is ranked #27, beating Mexico will not add one cubit to their stature while a draw or a loss will diminish them.

    England and Sweden would also best be avoided, as would Norway and The netherlands, not to mention Scotland.

  • Steglitz49

    The draw for the next round of the ladies Champions League will take place on Monday. The seeded teams are drawn against the unseeded.
    • No club can meet a team from their own association.
    • Matches 9/10 and 16/17 November.

    Seeded teams:
    Lyon (FRA, holders) coefficient 114.410
    Wolfsburg (GER) 116.535
    Rosengård (SWE) 85.615
    Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) 74.410

    Fortuna Hjørring (DEN) 51.705
    Brøndby (DEN) 50.705
    Barcelona (ESP) 49.695
    Rossiyanka (RUS) 44.365

    Unseeded:
    Bayern München (GER) 34.535
    FC Zürich (SUI) 34.240
    Brescia (ITA) 27.705
    Slavia Praha (CZE) 25.550

    Eskilstuna United (SWE) 21.615
    FC Twente (NL) 21.600
    BIIK-Kazygurt (KAZ) 17.270
    Manchester City (ENG) 16.830

    • MurderOnZidanesFloor

      All the seeded sides will be dreading being drawn against Bayern Munich, the gulf in class between them and some of the other unseeded sides is huge.

      • Ethan

        Manchester City wouldn’t be fun for any of the seeded sides either.

        • Steglitz49

          You could well replace the 2 Danish and the Russian side with BM, City and Twente without anyone quarreling but nevertheless it will be interesting to see how the tournament develops.

        • guest

          seems alittle surprising there is only one english team.

          • Steglitz49

            Chelsea Ladies lost against the Shewolves while both the Scotch teams are out too.

      • Steglitz49

        Twente knocked Bayern Munich out last time.

        Kazygurt means a long trip which is ruinous for poor teams and expensive for the rich ones.

    • Steg Watch

      Irrelevant.

      • Steglitz49

        Please register yourself so we can follow your comments.

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  • Silver Frost

    It is to be hoped that Herdman starts Sinclair until she’s 38. Years before then she will have passed it, and I think she already has. Good news for Team USA, which is building for the future.

    • Ashley C

      People on here said she was past it after the WC and look what happened. Your last sentence doesn’t make much sense either since in fairness to canWNT, they’ve done a pretty good job bringing in youth. Especially in Rio. USA isn’t the only nation building for the future. Especially looking at the likes of Japan and Germany.

  • FawcettFan14

    Poor Mexico. Their federation does not value the women’s team at all. They need to hire Monica Gonzalez as head coach, who is smart, driven, willing to take a stand for women. But those are probably the traits the FMF is afraid of.

    • Steglitz49

      At this year’s U17 WC being played, Mexico at least got out of their group which neither the US nor Canada managed.

      The Mexican lasses won their group but then lost to Venezuela in the QF.

      What has happened in the last 5-6 years to their senior team? It will be a few years till these U17s can be a full NT.

      • FawcettFan14

        It won’t matter what the U-17 team does, how many good players they have, if the FMF does not invest in the senior WNT. They need to hold camps, schedule friendlies, bring in competent coaches and top level trainers. Unless these steps are taken, the teenage talent will be squandered.

        • Steglitz49

          Indeed. But. Camps cost money, as do friendlies and traveling to the Cyprus or Istria cups — if invited. Even going to Canada costs money.

          “Money is a good thing to have but you should not have too much of it; just more than enough.” — is a line from a film. “Money, money, money”, sang ABBA.

          • Bruce

            Let’s not pretend that the FMF doesn’t have money.

          • Steglitz49

            I am not. At the same time, it is money that the men have earned. How much can you tax the male players and their fans to subsidize the women? What is a reasonable %?

            Judging by Europe, fans of the men’s game seem to swallow 1%, many though far from all accept 3%, but few accept 5%.

      • #1Fan

        Cmon. Put them in the US group and they get buried. Im not standing up for the US team, Im just saying dont draw conclusions from who got out of the group.

        • Steglitz49

          It is hard not to.

    • Guest

      Monica Gonzales is not the answer to Mexico’s woes. She’s certainly better than what they have now (nobody), but FMF should look into someone who has coached at a high level.

      • mockmook

        Ar this level, I think the ultimate skill for a head coach is managing the players’ hearts and heads — MG seems to have the traits to do that.

        She also seems wise enough to not over-think tactics and formations — just get the players to play hard and smart.

    • atalba

      I second that motion. It’s going to take a culture change and reliance on their youth. Not a man or foreign coach. Culture and development through the U.S. college system is key.

  • Steglitz49

    I had hoped for a preview of the semifinals of the U17 world cup.

    They are played as a double header. First Venezuela play North-Korea and the Spain takes on Japan. Thus we could have a Hispanic final or an Asian one!

    • sudeep das

      2 hours to go for Deyna Castellanos to rewrite the history books. Already her impact has been compared to that of Maradona’s in the 1986 WC.
      Hispanic vs Asian – great point. Structurally East and South East Asians are smaller (West Asian and Middle Easterns are comparable to Caucasians and Africans). Hispanics fall somewhere in between I think. So physically these matches will not be that lopsided as Japan vs England / Ghana. Speed wise Far East Asians – read both Koreas – will have an advantage.
      It’s interesting how genetics and demography influence athletics and sports.

      • Steglitz49

        in 1986 Maradona cheated. I hope that Deyna does not chose that path.

        Size matters. Japan won WC-11, played in the OG-12 and WC-15 finals.

        • sudeep das

          Agreed. Venezuela down by 1-0 already

          • Steglitz49

            Lost 0-3 allegedly. 2nd goal a GK error.

          • #1Fan

            you were saying? U17 wc is all about AVOIDING the few top nations. To go crazy about stats put up by any player who avoids them is a bit silly. I like her as a player , but not on the basis of this event.

          • Steglitz49

            I don’t follow you but never mind.

          • sudeep das

            I think you posted your reply wrongly in this chain – maybe some other conversation you were referring to.

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you for being blunter and more to the point than I.

  • atalba

    Canada’s youth development system in the U.S. college is working well. West Virginia U has and has had many Cannucks, and are ranked as the #1 team in the nation. Their style of play is exactly was t G e US should copy. Speed, size, and spacing. The movement of WVU is beautiful to watch; in all 3 areas of the pitch.

    UCLA is also a good training ground for top talent.

  • john

    Although it is admirable what Herdman has done bringing in young players if Sinclair and her peers are still vital parts of the Canada squad in 2019 their development efforts are as poor as the USA’s.

  • kernel_thai

    Someone should have asked Herdman if he’s rather beat the US or win a WC and see if his head exploded.

    • Steglitz49

      Melissa Tancredi played the 2016 season in Sweden and came back to her club after the OG had finished. Welcomed back with flowers on the first match as were the Canadian on the toher side too.

      Melissa played for Stephanie Labbé’s old club, KIF-Örebro.

    • Calci0

      The rivalry has truly gotten tense. And the games are getting closer!

      • Steglitz49

        They avoided each other in Brazil. Canada took Germany’s scalp in the group game but Germany returned the favor in the SF while Sweden did the opposite with Brazil.

      • DNG

        Not sure how much of a rivalry it really is right not. The US are still expected to beat Canada every time they play.

        • Calci0

          True, but ever since the 4-3 game, you can tell the intensity of each game has increased. It may be one-sided (though I think the past two games were a tie), but it’s probably as close to a rivalry as the USWNT can get.

          • Ethan

            The 2016 Olympic qualifying final was a fairly comfortable 2-0 victory for the US in the end.

          • Steglitz49

            Canada bronze; US pig iron, if even that.

          • DNG

            The USWNT players have sort of described the matches as one way aggression(debatable but I do think Canada play more physical than most teams.). Many don’t actually like playing in the matches due to how physical Canada plays. I think Canada definitely view the US as a major rival but it’s not really the same for the US.

          • Steglitz49

            You are correct. Canada plays more aggressively than other teams. Not assertively. Aggressively.

  • Steglitz49

    Japan just beat Spain 3-0 in the U17 WC semifinal but the scoreline does not reflect how well Spain played and how unlucky they were. In many ways 1-1 would have been a fairer result.

    Now it is an all Asia final and an Hispanic bronze match.

  • Paul Klee

    Couple days ago FIFA approved slot allocations for France 2019. Europe gets 8 plus France. Concacaf gets 3.5 and South America gets 2.5. The rest remain unchanged.

    • Steglitz49

      Thank you.

  • AlexH

    The USWNT needs a strong Canada because without the Canadians nipping at their heels the federation suits and their cronies will be able to damange the WNT by focusing on their own agendas at the expense of the team. A few losses to Canada and our federation will have to take positive measures to at least appear as though the care about the product on the field.

    • john

      US need a strong Canada because without them CONCACAF is a complete disaster. American gals can already make numerous mistakes and get away with it almost every game.

    • HOFCToDi

      Sunil Gulati does not give a damn about the women’s program.

      How Ellis, Heinrichs overhauled U.S. women’s development pipeline

      fourfourtwo.com/us/features/us-womens-youth-development-april-heinrichs-jill-ellis

      “We have so many more resources now,” continues Heinrichs. “We’ve never had the same level of resources as our men’s side. We still don’t, but we are hoping to get there. We’ve never had the resources that the quality and depth of our player pool has required. We still don’t, and we are hopeful for that. We are getting there, though.”

    • HOFCToDi

      Sunil Gulati only cares about FIFA World Cup qualification.

      youtube.com/watch?v=GAaBbFfv5HA

    • HOFCToDi

      Pay-to-play is a symptom, not the problem itself

      topdrawersoccer.com/the91stminute/2016/06/pay-to-play-is-a-symptom-not-the-problem-itself/

      But even as the club collected checks from parents, every drop of the proceeds – 100 percent – was redirected back into the club’s infrastructure: travel, equipment, training. In the five years Georgia United operated as a standalone academy with no professional links, the club’s coaches and administrators pocketed nothing. Whatever money they made came from other jobs, other outlets.

      Soccer development is an enormous series of circular arrows all pointing at one another. It is an ecosystem. Paradoxically, for all the pay-to-play cash in ours, the American system is among the poorest in the world.

  • No fans for the farce

    Wait! Mexico still has a senior WNT? Do even 5 have a club team? Shouldn’t you have someone to coach the team when you schedule a game? Canada wants to improve so Herdman picks Mexico! !!! I guess PNG had a conflict.