Canada's command performance | Soccer | CBC Sports

SoccerCanada's command performance

Posted: Monday, August 20, 2012 | 12:09 PM

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Adriana Leon (9) had a hat trick in Canada's opening win at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. (Johan Ordonez/Getty Images) Adriana Leon (9) had a hat trick in Canada's opening win at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. (Johan Ordonez/Getty Images)

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Canada opened with a command performance at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, a tournament in which momentum is key in the early stages.

Happily for Canada and those hardy souls who set the alarm early, it was over as a contest before halftime.
 
Canada's domination of Argentina was almost complete once goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo had dealt with an awkward dipping shot in the opening exchanges in Kobe, Japan. The 6-0 scoreline did not flatter Canada, but it did highlight the shortcomings of the opponent.
 
Canada is up and running at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. Momentum is key in the early stages of tournament play and the Canadians could not have wished for a more complete performance to open their World Cup campaign.
 
The fact that they tormented Argentina with an extra player for almost the entire game was clearly beneficial. Augustina Barroso had to go for pulling down Christine Exeter in the penalty area and the extra punishment of a penalty kick put the South Americans on a back foot from which they could never move forward.
 
Encouragingly, Canada did not sit back after captain Shelina Zadorsky had blasted them in front from the spot. Spurred on by the early advantage, the Canadians searched urgently to pad the lead and stamp their authority on the game.
 
The work rate rarely dropped in the first half and the endeavour was handsomely rewarded. Jenna Richardson's intelligent cut back allowed Jaclyn Sawicki to elegantly chip the hapless Argentine keeper before a new star was born.
 
Adriana Leon only played half the game. It was all the time she needed to leave her mark. The 19-year-old from Maple, Ont., helped herself to a hat trick before being withdrawn at the interval by head coach Andrew Olivieri after receiving a yellow card.
 
Leon is hardly a household name, but they know all about her at Notre Dame. As a freshman, it was her goal which clinched a third NCAA title for the Fighting Irish back in 2010 -- the same year she was part of the Canadian team which failed to qualify for the U-20 World Cup.
 
No such disappointment in this cycle. Leon did not feature in the qualifying tournament, but Canadian senior coach John Herdman had already been alerted to her potential. Leon travelled to Phoenix late last year for a 10-day training camp with the full team and learned from the likes of Christine Sinclair and Melissa Tancredi. Maybe, just maybe, we have glimpsed the future.
 
If the result was pleasing, so too was the style in which Canada achieved victory. The dump-and-chase strategy of yesteryear is clearly not on the agenda of the class of 2012. This Canadian team has the go-ahead and the confidence to play its way out of defence and build with a patient passing game where ball possession and retention is at a premium.
 
As a result, Canada was able to dictate the pace of the game. Whether or not it can stick to the game plan when the hill gets steeper and the pace faster, only time will tell. The incline will surely increase in what may well be a physical encounter with Norway, while the North Koreans boast an enviable record at this tournament.
 
For now, all is well. Canada will draw plenty of confidence from this performance, albeit against a nation which appears out of its depth at this level.

Note to all cheerleaders -- leave your pompons at home, at least for the time being.

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