Canadian women's soccer team to play rival U.S. in Toronto
Exhibition will take place on June 2
Diana Matheson still hasn't brought herself to watch the replay of Canada's heartbreaking loss to the United States in the London Olympic semifinals.
The blow was that painful.
Canada's women's soccer team hopes for some measure of revenge when it renews its rivalry with the U.S. later this year in Toronto in a friendly that Matheson and coach John Herdman say will be anything but.
"For a lot of these players, there's unfinished business there," Herdman said Tuesday. "This game is a bit personal. I'm not frightened to say that."
The Americans will visit BMO Field on June 2 as the two teams will meet for the first time since their controversial Olympic semifinal.
Canadian star Christine Sinclair recorded a hat trick in the 4-3 extra-time loss in August. After the game she lashed out at the officiating and was later slapped with a four-game suspension by FIFA.
Canada went on to beat France for the bronze, capturing the country's first Olympic medal in a traditional team sport since 1936.
Matheson scored in extra time to lift Canada over France and onto the podium. But the Oakville, Ont., native said she would love another shot at the Americans.
"It's always a battle," she said. "We know that they hate playing us, and we love that they hate playing us. I have personally never beat them (in her 10-year national team career) so I can't wait until June 2."
Since the Olympics, Herdman has brought several young players into the national team fold with an eye on development.
The game against the U.S., however, will be all about the veterans.
"This game is quite special for Canadians and I think there is only a certain group of players who are ready to play this game," he said. "The Canadian public deserves the opportunity for us to get out there and really try and do something quite special."
Herdman said the Canadian team's mindset changed as the events in London unfolded.
"We had a 'Canada can't' mindset in the buildup to the Olympics where we weren't that sure whether we could actually beat teams," he said. "After winning the bronze the mindset changed to 'Canada can,' and I want to use those players with that mindset.
"So if that means bringing a Melissa Tancredi back for one game. . . then, I'm prepared to do that. There's something about some unfinished business."
Tancredi returned to school after London to finish her chiropractic studies.
Herdman said younger players will remain a key part of the preparation for the 2015 women's World Cup in Canada, and the 2016 Rio Olympics. They'll certainly get their share of big games.
Peter Montopoli, the Canadian Soccer Association's general secretary, said the Canadian women will play friendlies at each of the six World Cup venues — Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton — in 2014 and 2015. He's hopeful the matches will be against the world's top teams who will looking to test out the stadiums ahead of the World Cup.
But for one night at least, it will be all about payback for that Olympic loss at Manchester's Old Trafford Stadium.
"There is something about putting the future aside for this game," Herdman said. "I think there has to be a real focus about what this means to Canadians and also what it means for the players."
Tickets go on sale for the game March 22.
"I have no doubt we're going to sell out this crowd, but more than that, we need Canadians to come and leave all their politeness at home and bring their songs, or whatever it is," Matheson said. "Come out and be loud."
The Canadians lost 4-0 to the U.S. at BMO Field in 2009, the most recent meeting between the two teams on Canadian soil.
The U.S. boasts a whopping 44-3-5 advantage all-time against Canada. The Canadians haven't beaten their American rivals since March of 2001.