Roster set for Canada vs. U.S. women's soccer game
Winnipeg hosting exhibition game on May 8
Despite the heated women's soccer rivalry between Canada and the United States that has developed since the London Olympics, coach John Herdman says it's important not to make too much of their meeting next week in Winnipeg.
"I know for the U.S., at times, they just look at it as another game and they come into the game nice and light and bright, whereas our girls often see it as something bigger than it is," he said Thursday from Vancouver, as the Canadian roster for the exhibition game next Thursday was announced.
"We're looking at some new strategies to try and retain the passion but remove the psychological burden."
For Winnipeg-born midfielder Desiree Scott, the pressure will be even greater than he suggested. It will be the first time her parents have ever seen her play live.
"It's a massive thing for Desiree and we've all got a big smile on our faces," Herdman said.
But he says part of the team's job will be to help her focus on doing what she does best and ignore the added pressure.
This is a good chance to see how much development has taken place since Herdman started to refocus the team on the kind of game he says they need to play to be competitive at the 2015 World Cup, being held in cities across Canada, including Winnipeg.
"This is where your true gap analysis comes in and you get a great sense of how far you've come along the line towards success at the World Cup," he said.
"There's a certain style and approach we want to go with…. It's more about in this game the attacking processes of managing the ball better under the sort of pressure the U.S. put you under, as well as being a lot more clinical in those key moments, that transitional moment where we are getting chances but not converting."
Canada, currently ranked seventh, lost to the No. 1-ranked Americans 1-0 in Texas in their first meeting this year and hasn't managed to beat the Americans since 2001.
Then there was the bitter semi-final loss to the Americans at the 2012 Olympics, where a controversial call by a referee left Canadian fans, and players, outraged.
One player from that heartbreaker will be returning for this match. Striker Melissa Tancredi is back after taking a couple of years off to return to school.
"She's close to returning back to professional football in the NWSL and to be back full-time with Canada so she'll come into this squad a little bit behind the eight-ball but Melissa's presence is always felt."
He says she's not going to be able to play 90 minutes after being off for two years, but she's a tough competitor with the kind of spirit and grit that can rub off on young players.
One player Herdman would have liked still hasn't recovered enough from an ACL injury to play, natural left-footer Lauren Sesselmann, and he's also missing those who play for Swedish teams because of the travel time and a short turnaround.
It provides a chance for Herdman to introduce some young players such as 16-year-old Jessie Fleming and 17-year-old Sura Yekka.