Thursday, August 14, 2008

Liveblogging the ladies 3: Canada vs USA

Women's Olympic Soccer - Group Stage
CANADA VS SWEDEN

Shanghai Stadium, Shanghai China
15 August 2008
6 am ET / 5 am CT / 3 am PT

Live on CBC
Internet: CBC Olympics Live Video

The earlier start time of this match makes it a tough sell for me. But, on the other hand, nothing would be sweeter than a Canada win over their long-time rival in the Olympics. Even if I only manage to tune in for the 2nd half, you'll see something appear in this space.

Preview: Canadian women to take on U.S. in Olympic soccer

The bad news is that Canada has a dismal record all-time vs the U.S. The CBC article linked above lists 42 matches and a record (W-D-L) of 3-4-36, though that doesn't add up right. In any case, we trust them that it's not good.

It's more instructive to look at recent matches.
Date Location Result CAN USA Competition
06/21/08 Suwon, Korea loss 0 1 Peace Queen Cup
05/10/08 Washington, USA loss 0 6 Friendly
04/12/08 Juarez, Mexico draw 1 1 Olympic Qualifying
01/16/08 Guangzhou, China loss 0 4 Four Nations
05/12/07 Frisco, USA loss 2 6 Friendly
11/26/06 Carson, USA loss 1 2 Gold Cup
07/30/06 Cary, USA loss 0 2 Friendly
07/03/04 Nashville, USA loss 0 1 Friendly
02/03/04 Shenzhen, China loss 0 2 Four Nations
10/11/03 Carson, USA loss 1 3 World Cup

Recent history is also bad. If you're looking for a bright side, you'll notice that in the only 3 true competitive matches, they have 1 draw, a 1 goal loss and a 2 goal loss. Seven of the matches were played away, and the most recent match was as close as I expect tomorrow's encounter to be.

As mentioned previously, the US team is somewhat in disarray in these Olympics, and their best player, Abby Wambach, won't play in the tournament due to injury. The Americans can be had, and there is no time like the present.

Remember to keep checking in bright and early Friday morning.

I just set my alarm clock for 5:08am. Good Lord!

It's ridiculous o'clock and I'm ready for action. Did you know that it's still dark in these parts at 5:15 am?

15th
: I may be ready for action, but it appears Canada wasn't, because they are already down 1-0 after 15 minutes. Not good!

The teams appear to be playing in a downpour. And just now, LOUD thunder.

19th
: Canada just made a goalkeeping sub: Karina Leblanc replacing Erin McLeod. I can see no reason for this other than injury, unless the first goal was a real howler. More bad news for Canada.

Livescore lists the U.S. scorer as A. Hucles in the 12th minute.

There was just another big thunder-crack, and the officials have sent the players off the pitch with 20 minutes gone in the first half. This delay presents me with an interesting dilemma. It seems silly for me to waste these precious moments not sleeping. Yet if slumber overcomes me, it's unlikely I'll return to blog any more of this action.

* RAIN DELAY *

The potential upside to this stoppage is that if it is long enough, I can resume watching the match at a less ungodly hour. I'm back to bed now, though.

After a 90 minute delay . . .

The delay was long, and I've been drifting in and out a bit since the match restarted.

However:

30th: Canada has the ball in the U.S. end, but isn't doing much with it until Christine Sinclair unleashes a 30 yard blast that flies into the top right corner! Great goal which makes it 1-1.

HALF TIME

Sleep kept me from seeing more than 20 minutes of the first half, and a good portion of it was played under terrible weather conditions, but this has been one ugly display of soccer. I've been hard on the Canadian tactic of giving away possession by thumping the ball constantly up the pitch, and others more qualified to pronounce judgment have levelled the same criticism against coach Even Pellerud. But in this match, the Americans have adopted almost the same approach, only slightly better.

To be completely fair, Canada probably doesn't deserve to be level at this point. But that's not how the game works, and it is nice to come out on the lucky side once in a while.

The sun is shining into my room now, making sleep a less likely possibility for the rest of the match; I'll try to be a more constant companion.

To start the 2nd half, Canada use their second substitution, bringing Brittany Timko on for Melissa Tancredi. This likely pushes either Lang or Sinclair into more of a central forward role.

50th: Nothing doing so far. Both teams are still playing sloppy. If it counts for anything, it seems like Canada has more vocal support, or at least has fans placed closer to the mic.

Maybe it's just me, but Emily Zurrer seems to be having a poor match. It's disappointing, because she was quickly becoming one of my favourites (I think I have a thing for left backs).

57th: USA get a free kick near the end line but don't manage to trouble Leblanc. Danger averted.

More chances for the US, and now a corner.

63rd: The Americans are getting the better of the play right now, for sure. Canada is keeping a lot of players back, which takes the danger out of some of these USA attacks, but also makes Pellerud's strategy of "direct football" even less effective.

69th: Franko picks up a yellow card slicing down an American, but looks bad-ass doing it. Thug life!

USA gets a breakaway after a misplay between Candace Chapman and her defensive partners, but Leblanc saves it and the danger is cleared.

78th: Canada is looking more positive now, winning more 50/50 balls, and playing more passes along the ground. Sinclair just had another long shot saved.

87th: Kara Lang plays a nice ball in for Timko, who collides with the defender and the keeper. The stretcher comes on to pick her up. It looks like the USA keeper, Solo, hit her in a few places with her knee, and Timko is looking rough. It would be unfortunate for Pellerud to be forced into using a sub for a player with less than a half of running.

END OF REGULAR TIME

It got a little hairy there at the end. Leblanc was forced into a couple of saves, and Canada had a couple of half chances at the other end. Timko was too hurt to continue, so the lovely Jonelle Foligno was brought in to replace her.

This has been far from a dominant or even confident performance by the ladies, yet they are tied after regular time with the #1 team in the world. If the men's team was in a similar position, I'd be popping a soccer boner about now, so I suppose I should try to be excited.

There must bea pile of Canadians tuning at work as the feed is bogging down a bit. I may need to abandon ship and head to the TV downstairs.

OVER

A Hawaiian hoodrat named Kai with some disgusting body ink scored in the first half of extra time. If the play wasn't offside, it was awfully close. Canada throws everything forward but can't equalize.

I hate the USA.

The women made a massive effort and I'm glad De Vos finished the game by praising that instead of criticizing Pellerud's naive tactics, even though he was right to do so. The tournament showed that Canada has a good team, but needs to play more modern football to have success in the future.

[CBC summary]

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