Today’s the day for Big Red

There’s a very good chance that by the end of tonight, we’ll be able to write “Canada has qualified for the World Cup“, and have it be accurate.

And that feels pretty damned good.

Sure, qualifying for the Women’s World Cup is a bit of a “gimme” for our ladies, considering that aside from the powerhouse Americans, there aren’t really any other sides in CONCACAF that are at our level. But we can’t allow results like an 8-0 thrashing of Guyana to let us get complacent as Canadian soccer supporters.

The team, under Carolina Morace, has a reasonable chance of making some real noise at next year’s tournament in Germany, which would hopefully have great benefits (in terms of exposure and coverage) not just for the senior women’s program, but for the sport in general on these shores.

Christine Sinclair is, indisputably, one of the best female players on the planet, and her head-and-shoulders dominance over most other players on the field is fairly obvious on most nights. But this team’s success going forward will rely not just on its depth, and on its players’ willingness to buy into Morace’s possession-oriented system.

I’d say the latter is pretty well covered, based on the very entertaining style they’ve employed over the past 18 months. And as for depth, Sinclair isn’t the team’s only threat. Melissa Tancredi is a solid stalwart on the front line, while Kara Lang has, happily, enjoyed a resurgence after recovering from a major knee injury. Twenty-year-old Jonelle Filigno (who, like Lang, made her presence known on the senior team as a teenager) has shown plenty of value in this tournament, with a strong work rate and some incisive passing, and my eyes popped when I saw the perfect cross by Josee Belanger to set up Filigno’s goal against Mexico earlier this week.

Another key change under Morace has been allowing veteran midfielder Diana Matheson to play more of a creative role, opening up opportunities for her teammates (though Matheson was the one who potted the goal that won the Cyprus Cup earlier this year).

Anyway, before I descend into providing mini-biographies of the entire roster, my point is this…

Yes, I’m looking past tonight’s match. Realistically, a win by Costa Rica would be utterly shocking, but is so statistically unlikely that I’m not even going to fathom the possibility. (Am I overdoing it? Sorry, as a Canadian soccer fan, I’m unaccustomed to this “having confidence in your team’s superiority over the opponent” thing). Edit: If there’s an American fan who wrote a similar post yesterday, they surely are kicking themselves right now.

But even if the road to qualification hasn’t been the toughest, the victory (presuming it comes, in a few hours’ time), should be savoured. The FIFA Women’s World Cup is a global soccer tournament at which Canada will be represented — not as a token participant, or as a sad-sack underdog, but as a squad with a legitimate shot at significant success.

From what I’ve seen of the team on the field, and from speaking to some of the players about the team’s new direction under Morace, I’m honesty quite confident in saying that Big Red will turn some heads at next year’s tournament.

So let’s relish tonight’s victory (even though, as I’m writing it hasn’t happened yet — but screw it, I’m gonna be presumptuous and you can’t stop me).

Because really, how often does one get to express the sentiment that Canada has qualified for the World Cup?

p.s. I will be away from the blog while the game is going on, and for several hours after. So if the unthinkable somehow happens, please bombard the comments section with angry invective, in the belief that my hubris was somehow causally linked to the outcome of the game. I, in return, will retreat, shamefully, into a dark cave for a few weeks. Thanks.

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5 Responses to “Today’s the day for Big Red”

  1. Excellent post 🙂 I’m so proud of this team, and hopefully they will get success. Good luck today. Go Canada!!

    (Btw give Sinclair the damn award cuz Marta’s already got like 50 of them)

  2. Kevin Smith Says:

    I’m shocked. I just watched the Yanks lose to Mexico (well, the last 20min). This is both awesome (cause I love seeing Yanks humbled) and disappointing (cause I wanted to see how we fared against them in the meaningless final).

  3. Well, it looks like Squizz was a jinx after all, except the soccer gods didn’t have their sights lined up and accidentally took out the Americans instead.

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