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Canada announces friendlies vs U.S., Japan, Germany

John Herdman discusses the 2014 schedule with the press in Vancouver. (Photo Harjeet Johal for The Equalizer.)

VANCOUVER, B.C.—As Canada gears up to host the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup next year, the host country wants to be able to compete with and defeat some of the superpowers in women’s football both now and in 2015.  John Herdman led a tour from the prairies to the west coast this week announcing friendly fixtures against the U.S., Japan, and Germany that will hopefully better prepare his squad for the most prestigious tournament in the game.

In Vancouver, Herdman talked about what he hopes to gain from playing these international friendlies.

“For us it’s about the process, it’s about the consistent winning performances, it’s about statistically hitting certain measures and it’s about giving young players caps.  It’s about building some experiences tactically against these top teams. 2014 is still a development, and growing phase for this teams.  It’ll only matter when it starts in 2015 and that’s when the pressure’s really there.”

On Monday in Winnipeg, Manitoba it was announced that Canada will host the United States on Thursday, May 8 at Investors Group Field.  Tickets for this match will go on sale on Friday, February, 14.  Canada has not played in “The Peg” for over twenty years, when they lost 4-1 to the United States on July 27, 1990.

This upcoming match will be billed as a rematch between rivals after Canada put forth a solid effort in a 1-0 defeat to the United States last Friday night in Frisco, Texas.  Overall the United States hold a commanding 47-3-5 record against their northern neighbors.

Sophie Schmidt is looking forward to Canada’s upcoming matches this year, and she talked about playing the reigning European Champions, Olympic Champions, and FIFA World Cup Champions later on home soil.

“It’s an exciting opportunity.  They’re going to be tough opponents because they’re the best in the world but I think that we welcome the challenge.  These are teams that we are going to have to beat in the World Cup if we want to be World Cup champions ourselves.  It’ll be a good reality check heading into next year, but I think more than anything it’s exciting to play at home and allow our fans to see these great opponents also.”

The Canada Soccer tour continued in Alberta with a big announcement in Edmonton on Tuesday.  The 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup holders will come to Canada for a pair of matches next fall.  Japan will take on Canada at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta on Saturday, October 25 and they will also play each other in Vancouver on Tuesday, October 28, at BC Place Stadium.

Canada last played Japan during group play at the 2012 London, Olympics.  Japan prevailed 2-1 with first half goals from Nahomi Kawasumi, and Aya Miyama.  Ticket information for both Japan matches will be announced this summer.

Canada Soccer President Victor Montagliani talked to The Equalizer about the planning process for these friendlies and how high Canada is aiming with the likes of the U.S.A, Japan and Germany on tap this year.

“We’ve been planning them for a good year, give or take.  We always knew that we wanted to play in as many host cities as possible.  We were always aiming that high and obviously it fell into place, but there were a few other teams we were looking at as well—like maybe a Sweden but it just didn’t come through.”

Sophie Schmidt discusses the goals for the Canadian women's national team in 2014. (Photo copyright Harjeet Johan for The Equalizer.)

The final announcement of friendly matches came Wednesday in Vancouver.  2013 UEFA European Championship winners Germany will play Canada on Wednesday, June 18, at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver.  These two teams met last spring in Paderborn, Germany as Silvia Neid’s team was gearing up for the Euros in Sweden.  Canada lost that contest 1-0 to Germany on a 53′ goal from Leonie Maier before 9,781 spectators.

Tickets for the Canada vs Germany match will go on sale on Friday, February 21.

While some will say that Canada aren’t quite on the same success level as the U.S., Japan, and Germany the players don’t believe that there is a huge separation between them.  Playing solid for large portions of a match is great but getting wins and growing team confidence should be the key.

Schmidt is certain that when Canada takes to the pitch they’ll be able to compete with these elite teams.

“I think a perfect example of that was a couple of nights ago when we played the United States.  We were right there with them and I think that it’s just a matter of bringing that performance every time on a consistent basis.  We’re right there with the best and it’s just a matter of that little bit extra of finding out how to get the win and not just be close.”

Canada has played tight and competitive matches against all three of these opponents in the past two years.  If Canada wants to be considered a top contender to win the 2015 FIFA World Cup these matches are of utmost importance in growing, and developing team chemistry.  To be the best Canada will have to beat the best.

Canada will play Finland, Italy, and England during the Cyprus Cup which starts on Wednesday, March 5.

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