Archive for karina leblanc

Canada’s women: Winning one for all of us

Posted in Canada, World Cup with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2010 by Daniel Squizzato

There have only been two instances in which I’ve been able to see Jack Warner‘s face without feeling the bile rising up in the back of my throat. On both occasions, he’s handing a Gold Cup trophy to the captain of a Canadian national team.

Ten years ago, it was Jason de Vos. And last night, it was Christine Sinclair.

Ten years ago, it was a fortuitous coin flip that allowed the men to progress into the knockout stages of the tournament. Last week, the biggest upset in women’s soccer history (the Mexicans’ semi-final defeat of the #1-ranked USA) gave Big Red an easier path to the trophy than they were anticipating.

Ten years ago, the men’s national team had high expectations after the recent appointment of a well-regarded international manager (Holger Osieck). Today, the women have Carolina Morace.

But that’s where the similarities end. Whereas the men’s Gold Cup success never translated over into World Cup qualifying, and dissension within the dressing room helped contribute to Osieck’s departure, I can’t help but think that this women’s side may be at the precipice of a defining moment in Canadian soccer. Continue reading


A Big Red sea change is upon us

Posted in Canada, Women's with tags , , , , , , on September 29, 2010 by Daniel Squizzato

“Why not?”

That’s captain Christine Sinclair’s response, when I ask her why Canadians should get out to BMO Field tomorrow night, to support the women’s national team in their friendly against China.

“We’re ranked (among the top teams) in the world. We’re a good team. We were just in the Beijing Olympics, lost in the quarter-finals to the eventual gold medalists, in overtime. We’re a talented team.

Talented, yes — as evidenced by their triumph in the Cyprus Cup earlier this year — but equally critical is that they are, indeed, a team. Much of that can be attributed to the infusion of head coach Carolina Morace, who took over the reins of the team early last year. Bringing in Morace was lauded as a coup for the Canadian Soccer Association, given her experience and her tactical acumen. But perhaps the biggest shift — unexpected, to some — has been in her ability to create a loose, relaxed atmosphere within the team.

“Oh gosh, yeah,” Sinclair enthuses, when asked if the Italian gaffer has lightened the locker-room mood. Continue reading

The future of WPS matters to us all, and here’s why.

Posted in Women's with tags , , , , , , , on January 28, 2010 by Daniel Squizzato

This was supposed to be a triumphant week in the off-season for Women’s Professional Soccer. WPS is, of course, the top-tier women’s league in North America, having started play last season to fill the void left by the demise of the WUSA in 2003. In its inaugural season, the league attracted a good amount of attention, thanks in part to the star appeal of Brazilian Marta, who scored 10 goals in 19 appearances for the WPS’s Los Angeles Sol, and went on to win the FIFA award for female player of the year.

The league also has an astonishing 250,000 followers on Twitter, showing there is clearly a burgeoning interest in the women’s game on this continent (or an awful lot of spambots who were drawn to the word “women” like moths to a flame). And, in what was supposed to be the good news story of the week, the Atlanta Beat (who will begin play as an expansion team this year) officially announced the opening of the first women’s soccer-specific stadium on the continent (they’ll share the 8,300-seat facility with the Kennesaw State University women’s soccer program).

However, all is not rosy for the league. Steve Goff is reporting today that the Los Angeles Sol are “on the brink of disbanding” after failed attempts to sell the team this offseason. The Sol made it to the championship game last season, and led the league in attendance. They also have the rights to one of the women’s game’s most recognizable players (not to mention Canadian keeper Karina LeBlanc and veteran defender Martina Franko). As Goff notes, if the Sol were to disappear, it would represent “a major setback to women’s pro soccer in America.” (Updated, 4:08 p.m.: It’s now official, the LA Sol will fold.)

I can already sense you rolling your eyes. “Who cares about the women’s game?” you’re asking yourself. “If they can’t play soccer, maybe they can get back to ironing my shirts and making my lunch. Blah blah blah.” Continue reading