Thursday’s game between the Canadian and U.S. women’s national soccer teams is billed as just a friendly, or exhibition, match but it’ll also be a chance for the home side to flip the script on the two teams’ longstanding rivalry.
“It has been like a Rocky movie in that unfortunately Rocky never wins,” said Canadian head coach John Herdman.
“If we are going to do this here it will probably be a Canadian crowd that’s probably pushed us over the threshold. It is a passionate Canadian crowd that I think will give us a bit of an edge against a monster on the world stage.”
The Canadian women haven’t beaten the U.S. since a 2001 victory at the Algarve Cup in Portugal. Since then, it’s been a string of heartbreak for Canada, including the painful 4-3 semifinal loss at the 2012 London Olympics.
As difficult a defeat at it was, the match may have produced long-term gains for the program. The Canada squad that will take to the pitch tomorrow night includes six teenagers.
“I have met a lot of young girls that have joined soccer because of watching the 2102 semifinal,” said team captain Christine Sinclair.
“It changed a lot of people’s lives and our goal heading into London was to leave a legacy and hopefully inspire a generation of young women soccer players. Now I am playing alongside some of those young soccer players whose lives we changed in 2012. So it is pretty exciting.”
Sinclair, still regarded as among the world’s best, says she’s looking forward to renewing the familiar rivalry, and taking on some of her club teammates from the Portland Thorns.
“I know a lot of these players from playing against them week in and week out, but obviously it is something different when you put on your national team jersey and representing your country,” she said.
“I have been on the wrong end…