VANCOUVER, B.C – No matter the stage, it’s always an intense, physical, and competitive battle when Canada and the U.S. play each other. We’ve grown accustom to seeing both teams bring out the best in each other. It’s expected to be no different on Thursday in Vancouver, and Sunday in San Jose when forever rivals meet in a pair of “friendlies.”
“Every game that we play against Canada has been a tightly contested match,” Becky Sauerbrunn said. “You look at iconic games, like our 2012 semifinal, and it’s hard not to see Canada as a world rival to us. We might have the better of the record. We always go into each game knowing that it’s going to be a very very hard test.”
The United States have a 47-3-6 all-time record against Canada. To say they’ve dominated the red and white would be an understatement. The last encounter between the rivals on Canadian soil was a 1-1 draw in Winnipeg, Manitoba on May, 8 2014. Canada’s last victory over the U.S. came on March 11, 2001, in a 3-0 win at the Algarve Cup.
What would it mean for Canada to finally get that elusive win over the U.S. ?
“Yeah, no one has ever done it here,” an enthusiastic Janine Beckie added. “This would be the first team to ever win, and beat the States at home. We’re going towards that, that’s our goal. We go on the field, and we expect to win. We don’t expect anything else. Obviously, they’re a great side so we have to consider their threats. It would mean the world to us as players. We have players like Sinc (Christine Sinclair), Desi(ree Scott), and Steph (Labbe) who have been around and have been a part of this team for a long time, playing against the U.S. We finally believe that we have this team, and this team is good enough to beat then. Yeah, we’re excited.”
This will be the final matches of 2017 for both teams. The U.S. wants to improve on a 11-3-0 record, and Canada wants to win, while also remembering what it’s like to play in a scheduled match. John Herdman’s team is 6-2-1 this year. However, rust could be a factor as they have not taken to the pitch since a 6-0 win over Costa Rica on June 11, in Toronto.
“I’m very excited to be playing the number one team,” Desiree Scott said, following training on Tuesday. “It’s a challenge for us always playing against the Americans to see where we’re at, to test ourselves, physically, mentally, and tactically. I’m really just excited to be out there, back on the pitch, with Canada. It’s been a while.”
Ellis and Herdman both have English blood, and they know firsthand that it’s an immense deal to win against your top rival. Ellis won’t want to be the one to have Canada upset the U.S. on her watch, and Herdman won’t want to come up short on his obsession of beating the U.S. Yes, while these are “friendlies,” both managers want a pair of wins.
“I relate it to local derbies, back where I grew up,” Portsmouth native, Ellis revealed. “It’s your regional neighbors so you’re naturally going to be competitive and rivalry. You add to that all the tradition behind it. It’s an intense rivalry. It means the same to both teams. They’re a highly ranked competitive team, it’s going to be a physical battle. It’s two very good heavyweights going at it. I think our players are as in to it, as the Canadian players would be.”
Canada has always talked about taking that next step, owning the podium, being the most connected team, and climbing up to that coveted number one FIFA ranking. It’s still a familiar adage though, ‘to be the best, you have to beat the best.’
“I think it just would be incredibly huge on our journey towards the World Cup, and Olympics,” said Scott. “To do it against the number one team, we’ve got to do it at some point.”
Is Canada ready to take that next leap, or will the U.S. be able to continue their impressive form vs Canada? The gap between the two teams is closing, but it’s still the United States in the driver’s seat, with Canada as the polite, and admiring passenger.