Canada Moves Past Loss to Make History


By Kara McDermott

Whatever happens on Thursday in the bronze medal match, Canada has long out-stripped their previous record by just advancing out of group play, and their run in this Olympics continues to be impressive. The brave reds have been on the verge of a breakthrough in recent years, ranking in the top ten teams of the world, but failing to perform at the two main international tournaments.

Last year’s World Cup was particularly disastrous. Placed in a tough group with England and Germany, they scored only one goal in the early round and finished dead last of the non-advancers. Immediately following the tournament, the team switched to John Herdman as head coach, who came from the New Zealand Women’s National Team.

The past year has seen some varied success for the club. They qualified easily for the Olympics over CONCACAF competition, but were decimated in the final of that tournament by the Americans 4-0. Then in the spring, the northern reds advanced first out of their group in the Cyprus Cup. Their run to the final had a bitter end as they lost to France 0-2. A result that no doubt holds as much bitterness in their minds as the loss to the US earlier this week.

Their semifinal loss carries more implications than just placement into the bronze medal match. FIFA informed the Canadian team that an investigation would take place into post-game comments by players Melissa Tancredi and Christine Sinclair implying collusion by the head referee to favor the Americans. (There was a note of irony in the fact that the head referee is Norwegian – a historical rival of the US). Now that footage has surfaced that seems to indicate that Tancredi stepped on the head of American Carli Lloyd during the match, without a call, the Canadians could be facing steep consequences in the future.

That future though will come after the Games are completed. All signs are that Tancredi and Sinclair, the most important offensive forces for team, will be available to take on France on Thursday to compete for the first medal in this event (the men have not medaled either since 1936).

France can boast more depth than the Canadians right now. Though both teams have scored 11 total goals over the tournament, there is more variety from France. Four of their players have scored two goals (Gaetane Thiney, Marie Laure Delie, Laura Georges and Elodie Thomis) and the remaining three came from three separate players.

Canada on the other hand has relied heavily on their two starting forwards. Sinclair is the tournament’s top goal-scorer with six, narrowly edging out the US’ Abby Wambach at five. Tancredi has four, and newcomer Jonelle Filigno tallied one.

This could be good news for the French defense. While Sinclair is a veritable force of nature, shutting her and Tancredi down could grind the Canadian offensive machine to a stop and allow more counterattack.

Canada though probably has the edge in fitness. Emphasizing athleticism along with skill is a notable product credited to the North American style and has been a talking point in the waning minutes of nearly every game during this last tournament cycle (World Cup-Olympics). Of course, a consequence of this is that the Canadians were run hard and long by the Americans for 120 minutes on Monday and will likely have a tougher recovery period than the French.

Both teams have survived stiff competition so far. Canada pulled a tie against Sweden to advance with a wildcard slot out of the group of death.  France advanced behind the Americans to then take on the Swedes. Taking a lesson from recent events, Les Bleues rallied after dropping a goal in the first 20 minutes to get a comeback victory.

It would be impossible to determine which team is more motivated. France missed out on a medal by a margin just eight minutes after Sweden pulled ahead with a late goal. Canada is just plain mad. And both need to overcome a history of unrequited expectations.

Consolation for one will start at 5:00 a.m. PST.


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