Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 05/9/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
Try as he might, and as much as giving up a late goal must have made him curse, John Herdman, the head knock of Canada's national women's soccer team, just couldn't stop grinning.
And with good reason.
Canada served up a solid performance in a 1-1 tie with the United States, the No. 1-ranked women's soccer side in the world, in front of 28,255 chilled but thrilled fans at Investors Group Field Thursday night. There was a lot to like about the environment and the work the women, all decked out in red, put in.
"I'm disappointed, I've got to say," Herdman began. "You're one-nil up against the No. 1 team in the world with 15 minutes to go... I'm not going to be standing here clapping and whooping. We should win them games. We had a great chance to topple the U.S. tonight, and that would have been a helluva step in our confidence and taking the team forward.
"But all in all, they left everything they had out there, and that's all we ask of those girls every time. They're an honest group and they did everything they could. I keep saying this: The future was on show tonight. We brought a 16-year-old (Jessie Fleming) on and she looked comfortable, and we had youngsters on from the start. So this team's only going to get better.
"So, yeah, I'm happy, obviously," Herdman concluded. "But I don't want to get too happy, because we should have won that."
THE ROAR OF THE CROWD AND THE AMERICAN ANSWER
Fuelled by the throng in attendance -- the second-largest crowd to watch the women in this country in the program's history -- Canada was solid, especially in the first half. When Kadeisha Buchanan moved up to head home a Diana Matheson cross in the 35th minute, the joint was jumping.
But the U.S., which had 11 shots on target to Canada's six, was the aggressor in the second half and got the equalizer from Sidney Leroux in the 78th minute to tie the game. Just over a minute later, Canadian superstar Christine Sinclair had a chance to put the home side ahead 2-1, but her sliding left-footed shot was just wide.
"It was a tale of two halves, really," said U.S. coach Jill Ellis. "Canada came out aggressive and put us on our back foot a little bit. I thought we were sloppy and careless in the first half. Canada had great energy and pressure. But in the second half we established ourselves more and created some really good chances."
Buchanan's goal was the first of her career for Canada and shouldn't over-shadow the work she did in the back end as part of a dominant performance that earned her player-of-the-match honours.
"It's really incredible... against a top goalkeeper, top players... I managed to get a head on it," said Buchanan. "It's exciting and an awesome experience."
"She does that every time she plays for Canada, that's the exciting thing," said Herdman. "I'm not frightened to say it: She's the (Christine) Sinclair of defenders. She's that good. We'll find some things to work on, but she's got a chance to be the best in the world at her position. That's a reality. I mean, that's the second, third time she's done that to (American forward) Abby Wambach, and Abby Wambach has scored 200-plus goals in her career and Kadeisha Buchanan was a better player tonight."
Winnipeg's Desiree Scott was cheered from the moment she stepped on the pitch to her exit and also with her every touch of the ball. The experience, playing in front of her mom and family for the first time in a Canadian jersey, capped a memorable return to her hometown.
"Dream come true," said Scott. "Walking out there, hearing the anthem play and looking in the stands and seeing those 30,000 fans there was exhilarating and exciting for me and definitely drove me to give a great performance tonight. It was phenomenal. It was so much fun I'm almost at a loss for words. I definitely enjoyed myself, I'm happy to be home, and what a great night it was."
The official slogan for the FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada was unveiled Thursday by the national organizing committee -- To A Greater Goal.
The Women's World Cup, which runs June 6-July 5 next summer, will be played in six cities across the country, including Winnipeg, where seven group-stage games will be held.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 9, 2014 C1
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