Sure, some would say that it was disappointing that the Canadian team didn’t go as far as they did in the 2012 London Olympics where they captured bronze, but that is complete garbage. The girls went unbeaten in the round robin, then shut out a very strong Swiss team with a complete defensive game, the likes of which coaches around the nation should look at when trying to make their own minor teams better. Hell, GK McLeod had three clean sheets in five games. Christine Sinclair and company took the weight of a nation on their shoulders and performed on the biggest stage of them all up until the last whistle. Even, when faced with a team that was ranked higher in the world ranking than them, team Canada still went out and dominated the game; unfortunately the result did not go in their favor. So, what happened in the quarter finals against England?
One simple answer: we couldn’t finish. I am not talking about finishing strong in the game, I am talking about the inability to capitalize on golden opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net. The biggest culprit go throwing away chances was striker Melissa Tancredi. Less than 1 minute into the game, Christine Sinclair kicks a beautiful cross to Tancredi and she beats the defender that was on her, but instead of taking the time that she had and placing the ball for a perfect shot, she decides to fire a shot off in a hurried fashion and wings it about 10 feet over the net for a missed opportunity. Just get the ball on the giant net and see what happens! Throughout the game Tancredi had a handful of glorious chances to help get Canada the lead to tie the game when the team was down, but failed on every attempt. Coach John Herdman realized about three-quarters of the way through the game that Tancredi had lost confidence in herself and her abilities and mercifully decided to switch her out for Andria Leon, whom created more chances and looked sharper overall then Tancredi did. John Herdman relied heavily on some players to pull through for him, which ended up being his team’s downfall in the end.
Second simple answer: Sesselmann. For those who watched Canada’s last two games, a one name explanation is all you need. For those whom unfortunately didn’t catch some of the spectacular action displayed by number 10, let me catch you up to speed. Let’s start with the game against the Swiss. Sesselmann appears to have a lack of confidence from the very first kick. Placed at left-back to defend from any crosses that might worry the goalkeeper, it became very clear that the Swiss were targeting her side for entrance into the offensive zone. Everytime the ball crossed halfway, i would close my eyes and predict where there midfielder was going to take it, and without fail, it was always to Sesselmann’s side. Thank goodness John Herdman is not blind. Because halfway through the game, after numerous glorious chances for the Swiss, Sesselmann was put in the center-back position for the remainder of the game. This is not to say that this fixed the problem altogether, but it did reduce the number of chances for the opposition. So, one would ask themselves, why don’t we put another defender in the next game that has confidence in herself and is solid defensively. John Herdman may not be blind, but he might have amnesia, as Sesselmann was put in the starting rotation for the game against the English. Within 10 minutes, after Tancredi has missed a couple of grade A scoring chances, Sesselman coughs up the ball on an easy pass from her teammate this gives England a partial breakaway, which striker Taylor makes no mistake putting the ball past McLeod. It was the second guessing of herself and the errand passes she made all tournament that caused Canada to not go as far as its supporter wanted.
Despite Tancredi and Sesselmann’s lack of stellar play, the overall effort of the team was absolutely incredible. To have the girls even get past the round robin stage, is a feat in of itself. The fact that stepping on the pitch and playing with as much heart as they did inspired a nation of young girls and boys to pursue their passion in soccer, in the hopes that one day they can represent their country like Sinclair and company.
As Andrew Soltis brought up on The Smoke Show, Canada has a great chance to get right back on the horse in August as they represent their country again in the Pan-American Games in Toronto. This next tournament gives them a chance to prove to the world that they are even better than their World Cup result signified, and bring a nation to their feet one more time on home soil.
I am Smoke Stark and this has been my rant on Canada doing us proud at the Women’s World Cup. Thanks for reading and the night is always darkest before the dawn.