Max Bell/Canada Soccer Flickr
It just wasn't to be. After two shaky performances in the group stages, Canada's women's team ran out of luck in Cyprus, falling 1-0 on a 70th minute goal by Rachel Yankey to finish second best once again.
|ENGLAND||0||1||1||Rachel Yankey 70'|
Two shaky performances against Finland and the Netherlands, didn't exactly reassure restless Canadian fans that the defending Olympic bronze medalists would be able to turn the corner, and in the end the English made them pay. A 70th minute strike was enough to crown the English as 2013 Cyprus Cup champions, relegating the Canadians to second best for the second year in a row, and perhaps give them a small measure of revenge for their quarterfinal loss, in the guise of Great Britain, in Coventry last summer.
England came out firing from the get go, and Canada simply absorbed the pressure without finding many opportunities to counter. Whatever coach Hope Powell told the team before the game, they came ready to play. Anita Asante and Eniola Aluko had grand chances to put the Brits ahead in the first half, while Ellen White and Rachel Williams came very close in the second. Christine Sinclair had a few chances in both halves, but by most reports was largely neutralized.
It would fall to Jonelle Filigno to get Canada's best chance in the game, but she would miss from close range in the first half. That chance notwithstanding, the Canadians seemingly could not find anything to get some traction in the game. No matter how threatening of a lineup it was, the threat simply wasn't there and it was only a matter of time before Yankey, taking a poorly cleared cross from Jess Clarke, slotted it past Erin McLeod to open the scoring. Jordan Nobbs could also have helped Williams double the lead, if not for a wayward finish.
Kaylyn Kyle would have a sight on goal for the Canadians near the end, but couldn't convert, and that pretty much summed up Canada's day. Despite playing aggressively with the talismanic Sinclair, the Canadians simply couldn't find a way to score, and was made to pay for absorbing massive amounts of pressure without being able to find a way to counteract the potent English attack. While facing a lower ranked side like Finland, there may be a way back, but against one of quality like England, the Canadians played a game of Russian Roulette, and lost.
Even worse was the loss of Carmelina Moscato, who was taken off after sustaining a rib injury late into the match, something her NWSL team the Chicago Red Stars will no doubt be watching with a grimace on their face. Sophie Schmidt was also taken off before halftime as a precaution, something that her new team Sky Blue FC will appreciate.
The result of this tournament and the conclusions from January's Yongchuan Cup will give coach John Herdman a lot to think about as he continues the process of building the national squad for 2015 and beyond. The veterans took front and centre in Cyprus, and while the coach isn't exactly pressing the panic button, it may be a sign that the old guard is nearing the end of their stay. The introduction of Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence are a good start, but with little action, the jury will be out on them for some time.
The Canadians are now one in three in the last three Cyprus Cup finals, having lost last year's decider 2-0 to France. The teams will meet again in England in less than a month, as the newly crowned Cyprus Cup holders continue their preparations for the 2013 UEFA Women's European Championships. The Canadians meanwhile will disband, and 14 members of the team (including captain Sinclair will head to their NWSL team's training camps.