TORONTO – Ten months is a long time for a nation to wait, but the enthusiasm of women’s soccer fans from both sides of the border appears to have only intensified in the months since the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) ended the Canada Women’s National Team’s (CANWNT) quest for the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. It took only a few hours to sell out BMO Field for the Women’s International Friendly. Approximately 22,000 soccer fans will witness “The Rematch” on June 2, 2013. This is serious business. CANWNT has a record of 0W-1D-5L in six home matches against the USWNT dating back to 1990.
2012 London Olympics
Women’s soccer dominated headlines during the 2012 Olympics in London. From the very first group stage matches, the play was fast and exciting, and as the tournament played out fans saw tested favorites—Japan, France, and the United States—emerging into the top spots. Also, to the surprise of many who had witnessed the dismal showing of Team Canada at the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany, CANWNT advanced to the semifinal match where they faced the United States.
The match took place on August 6, 2012, at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. The semifinal between USWNT and CANWNT can easily go down in history as one of the most grueling matches in women’s soccer. By the 73rd minute fans were in a frenzy over some questionable calls by Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen, CANWNT captain Christine Sinclair’s hat trick, and the three answering USWNT goals. After more than two hours of full-throttle play, American forward Alex Morgan ended the match with a header in the 123rd minute, making the final score 4-3. In the following medal games, Canada went on to beat France for the bronze, and the U.S. women’s team defeated Japan and took the gold medal.
In only a year, and under the guidance of new head coach John Herdman, Canada’s team had transformed from last-place finishers at the 2011 Women’s World Cup to Olympic medalists. As of game time, the USWNT is the best women’s soccer team in the world. The USWNT has an all-time record of 44-3-5 against CANWNT in International matches. Canada last beat the USA at the Algarve Cup in Portugal in 2001.
“The Olympics has really kicked it off. I think that’s great… On paper, 50-odd games, 44 losses, 3 draws… we are the underdogs. But there is something about what happened at the Olympics that makes it seem a lot closer, so we’ll use that. We’ll use whatever the fans give to push it over the line,” stated Herdman on Canada’s chance to win the June 2 match.
If men’s professional soccer in North America is still a fledgling enterprise, women’s soccer remains in its infancy. An underserved women’s program, a lack of support and advertising, a small fan base, and the failure of both the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) and Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) have all contributed to a sports culture that is unconvinced of the commercial viability of the women’s game.
And yet, interest in the sport continues to grow. At the youth level, increasing numbers of girls are playing soccer, and from a fan perspective, there is plenty to get excited about. Star players like Hope Solo, Abby Wambach, Megan Rapinoe, new favorite Alex Morgan, and the entire USWNT command attention and spur fan engagement.
When CANWNT returned home, they were met with a whole new generation of fans who had discovered Christine Sinclair, Melissa Tancredi, Diana Matheson and the rest of the squad. Team Canada came back as national heroes.
Shortly after the Olympics, in November 2012, plans for a U.S.-based National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) were announced by the U.S. Soccer Federation. The league would replace the defunct WPS and would seed players from the United States, Canada, and Mexico to fill rosters for eight teams.
The NWSL kicked off its inaugural season on April 13, 2013 which will conclude with a championship on August 31. The league is supported by the United States Soccer Federation, Canadian Soccer Association and Federation of Mexican Football.
Canada Women’s National Team Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Karina LeBlanc (Portland Thorns FC), Erin McLeod (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS (8): Kadeisha Buchanan (West Virginia), Robyn Gayle (Washington Spirit), Carmelina Moscato (Chicago Red Stars), Rachel Quon (Chicago Red Stars), Lauren Sesselmann (FC Kansas City), Kylla Sjoman (Herford), Rhian Wilkinson (Boston Breakers), Emily Zurrer (Seattle Reign FC)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kaylyn Kyle (Seattle Reign FC), Ashley Lawrence (West Virginia), Diana Matheson (Washington Spirit), Sophie Schmidt (Sky Blue FC), Desiree Scott (FC Kansas City), Danica Wu (Ohio State)
FORWARDS (4): Tiffany Cameron (Seattle Reign FC), Christina Julien (WFC Rossiyanka), Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns FC), Melissa Tancredi (unattached)
Canada Roster Notes
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Nicole Barnhart (FC Kansas City), Ashlyn Harris (Washington Spirit), Jill Loyden (Sky Blue FC)
DEFENDERS (8): Rachel Buehler (Portland Thorns FC), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina), Whitney Engen (Liverpool), Julie Johnston (Santa Clara), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Amber Brooks (Bayern Munich), Lauren Cheney (FC Kansas City), Tobin Heath (Paris Saint-Germain), Carli Lloyd (Western NY Flash), Kristie Mewis (FC Kansas City), Heather O’Reilly (Boston Breakers)
FORWARDS (4): Sydney Leroux (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), Christen Press (Tyresö), Abby Wambach (Western NY Flash)
U.S. Roster Notes
Watch “The Rematch”
The June 2 match will be broadcast live in Canada on all four Sportsnet regional networks with coverage beginning at 4:30 pm ET. It will be broadcast live in the United States on ESPNews.
Sign up for the latest news on Team Fenom and women’s sports!