They're heeeaa-ding to Looooooon-doooonnnnn!
After the warm up minnow crushings and the actually competitive semi finals are done, now it gets serious in the final. Except it doesn't, as given that both teams have already achieved what they came here to do and qualified for the 2012 olympics, this is like a kids game where everybody gets a medal, even the loser wins! Yay!
That is of course overly facetious, as there are plenty of interesting subplots to make it very much worth watching. Canada's plucky and lovable heroines against the big bad USA, complete with moustache twirling villain Sidney Leroux. Christine Sinclair v Abby Wambach in a race to second overall in most international goals scored. Vancouver fans hopefully filling BC Place even more than they did for the game against Mexico, supporting the team, while also making their case for more big games to be played there/polishing up the impressively large chip on their shoulder (delete as appropriate).
The attendance we saw against Mexico is definitely symptomatic of one of the best things from this tournament which is the very positive attention and growing momentum across Canada, helping to nudge the game a little bit more into the country's collective consciousness. The large pro Canada crowd and celebratory post game scenes were great to see and led to Stephen Brunt speculating on if it was the best night ever for Canadian soccer. If such scenes can be repeated with an even bigger crowd, against a more impressive opponent, well that'd be worth more than any CSA or Umbro marketing campaign could ever come up with.
Brunt's hyperbole may well be down to the fact he was writing for Sportsnet who are showing the tournament, but in a way that's just another good sign of the very very commendable effort Sportsnet have put in here. Televising all the games, giving the tournament a lot of exposure, and not just relying on their usual soccer talent, but bringing in one of their more recognisable 'all sports' personalities like Brunt is a very impressive commitment that is very much worth noting.
As for the game itself, Sinclair v Wambach is the obvious angle to look at, but that's for a good reason, and it more than likely will be the case that whichever of the two of them is ahead in the goals scored race at the end of the game will also have a shiny winner's medal or trophy to add to their collection. Costa Rica showed that the US team can definitely be put off it's game by a team willing to pressure them so hopefully Desiree Scott can put in the same sort of all action performace she gave against Mexico to help the defence keep Wambach and co quiet. If they can successfuly do that, then hopefully Sinclair, Melissa Tancredi, or one of the other attacking players can come up with another bit of magic.
Whatever happens, it should be a very entertaining game with the pressure off, and really only pride and bragging rights to play for. If Canada can get the win in front of the big crowd, it will be a momentous occasion, something to remember for a long time. If we lose? Oh well, it didn't really mean anything anyway.
The game kicks off at 8pm, and can of course be seen on Sportsnet, or streamed at sportsnet.ca. There will be the usual game thread here in the comments section, though it'll probably be the second half before I can join in. In a spectacularly bad piece of planning, I presumed this game would be on at 10:30, the same as all the other Canada games so far, so have dinner plans for earlier in the evening. Mm-mm professionalism.