Chill remains in Canada-US soccer rivalry

Despite a thaw, feelings remain intense

The feelings might not be as heated, the dislike not as intense, but there hasn’t been a total thaw in the rivalry between the Canadian and U.S. women’s national soccer teams.

Time and familiarity has dialled down the animosity that once prevailed between the two teams. But that doesn’t mean all will be forgiven when Canada hosts the U.S. Thursday night before a sold out crowd at BC Place Stadium in the first leg of a two-match international friendly series.

Canadian captain Christine Sinclair said playing for the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League has softened her attitude. She is teammates with some of the U.S. women and faces others on a regular basis.

“I’ve been asked so many times this week about the rivalry between the two countries,” Sinclair said during a news conference in advance of the match. “For me personally it has taken a little bit of a different path.

“Player for player things have changed. I’m friends with a bunch of them. Half of our national team plays in the NWSL with their players. It’s changed in that sense.”

Seeing the Canadian flags in the stands and hearing the national anthem does rekindle old fires.

“Once you put on the national team jersey, you’re playing for Canada against the U.S.,” said Sinclair. “All those friendships are forgotten for 90 minutes.”

Some of the U.S. players the Canadians love to hate won’t be on the pitch Thursday. Abby Wambach has retired. Hope Solo isn’t part of this team.

That doesn’t mean old grudges are forgotten.

“The rivalry is still there,” said defender Becky Sauerbrunn, the U.S. co-captain. “Yes, we have a lot of new faces on both sides, but I think because of the history, that always stays within a team. It’s always in the team’s DNA.”

One of the most famous games between the two teams was the 2012 Olympic semifinal in London, which the U.S. won in extra time despite a Sinclair hat trick. That match helped convinced young women on both sides of the border to take up the sport.

“A lot of the young ones (playing Thursday) watched games like the 2012 semifinal,” said Sauerbrunn. “They saw how heated that game was.”

One reason the Canadians want to win so badly is because the Americans are very good — and have beaten Canada a lot.

In 56 matches against the U.S., Canada has a record of three wins, 47 losses and six draws. Canada’s last win over the U.S. was March 11, 20001, at the Algarve Cup in Portugal.

“I’ve been on the wrong end of a lot of results against the U.S.,” said Sinclair, who grew up in nearby Burnaby, B.C. “I would love to be able to change that, especially here in Vancouver.”

The U.S. women are ranked No. 1 in the world by FIFA, soccer’s world governing body. Canada is ranked No. 5.

The U.S. women have won three Women’s World Cup titles, four Olympic women’s gold medals, seven CONCACAF Gold Cup wins, and ten Algarve Cups.

The Canadian women have been bronze medallists at back-to-back Olympics Games.

In the nine matches since John Herdman became the Canadian head coach he has a record of 0-7-2 against the U.S. Herdman channelled his inner Rocky Balboa when talking about playing the Americans.

“In the past it’s been like a Rocky movie, but unfortunately Rocky never wins,” he said. “They are a hell of battle but there is never a happy ending for Canada.”

U.S. head coach Jill Ellis understands the past between the two teams, but her focus is rebuilding after the U.S was upset by Sweden in the quarter-finals of the Rio Olympics.

“Everything the past five or six days for us has been about our focus on ourselves,” said Ellis. “Playing such a great opponent gives us an opportunity to learn more about ourselves.

“These are historically very competitive, very passionate games. For us in terms of where our team is, everything right now is about the future.”

The second leg of the series will be played Nov. 12 in San Jose, Calif.

Jim Morris, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Firefighters need more mental health support, says Campbell River fire chief

Campbell River fire chief Thomas Doherty represented B.C. in Ottawa with fire chief’s association

Trapped Vancouver Island crash survivor celebrates second chance at life

“Life is good now. It’s good to be alive.”

Habitat for Humanity hands over keys to Campbell River families

Organization will also hold key ceremony for project in Courtenay on Friday

Baby, it’s nasty outside: wind and rain will continue across Vancouver Island

Police warn drivers and pedestrians to use precaution during expected rain and winds

Campbell River to get safer as protective services increases OK’d

Another RCMP officer, better pay for auxiliary firefighters and more manpower at No.2 hall in 2020

VIDEO: ‘I won’t stop’ – local surfer hits the stormy seas of Stories Beach in Campbell River

Surfing community is growing in Campbell River, says Scotty Hewett

Sissons scores OT winner as Predators beat Canucks 4-3

VIDEO: Vancouver battles back to earn single point in Nashville

Lions announce seven members of coaching staff not coming back for 2019

The operational moves come two days after the Lions announced DeVone Claybrooks as the team’s new head coach

VIDEO: Kitten rescued from under school bus in Duncan

School staff have affectionately called kitten “Axle”

$12K awarded to atheist family who oppose Christmas, Hanukkah in B.C. classroom

Gary Mangel,May Yasue said holidays, Remembrance Day and Valentine’s Day not appropriate in preschool

Coach accused of sexual assault says apology letter was misinterpreted

Dave Brubaker has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of invitation to sexual touching

Give the gift of nature this holiday season

Please don’t be mad, but I bought you a moose

Aboriginal poet faces backlash for calling out NHL-themed totem poles

Rebecca Thomas says she received backlash for asking a drugstore chain to remove NHL merchandise

No plans yet for free WiFi on BC Transit buses

BC Transit says they are monitoring the roll-out of free WiFi on Translink vehicles

Most Read