The Canadian Women's National Team is back in action on Sunday morning when they take on England in their final friendly of their European tour. Canada comes into the match riding high on the back of Kaylyn Kyle's last second equalizer that allowed Big Red to snatch a 1-1 draw against France despite being vastly outplayed for long stretches of the game.
Canada should have a slightly easier time against England in their second game as they are not quite on the same level as France but the gap is not that large as they showed by beating Canada 1-0 in the Cyprus Cup final last month. England are missing a few key players for their squad for this match though as injuries have forced Carly Telford, Claire Rafferty, and Kelly Smith to pull out of the squad. That means England come into this game without their top forward in Smith which takes a little bit away from what should otherwise be a very good game.
England does still have lots of experience in their squad including plenty of players who were part of the Great Britain squad that lost to Canada 2-0 in the London Olympic quarterfinals. Their team will be lead by a collection of talented veterans including Casey Stoney, Rachel Yankey (scorer of the only goal in the Cyprus Cup final), and Fara Williams all of whom have over 100 caps for their country. They are complimented by some talented younger players though with the likes of Steph Houghton, Sophie Bradley, and Ellen White all making names for themselves in the women's game in their early 20's along with Gemma Bonner and Kerys Harrop who could pick up their first caps against Canada.
England are currently one place behind Canada in the FIFA rankings at 8th overall which is about where they belong. They are a good squad but not quite among the elite teams in the World at the moment. They have consistently been among the top 10 teams in the World but have yet to make that break through into the elite and in that sense they are in a similar position to where Canada has been for much of the past decade.
Their team has been coached by Hope Powell for over a decade now as she became the program's first full time head coach when she took the position in 1998 after wrapping up her playing career. As a player Powell was a talented goal scoring midfielder who managed to score 35 times in just 66 caps. Under her guidance England has been consistently good reaching the quarterfinals of the World Cup in both 2007 and 2011.
Canada will be using this game to continue to build towards the future so chances are fans will see a fairly similar lineup to the one that head coach John Herdman employed against France. The attacking trio of Christine Sinclair, Adriana Leon, and Jonelle Filigno have not been filling up the score-sheet in recent matches but Herdman has stuck with them thus far and will probably turn to them once more against England in the hope that they will finally start to click and create chances.
Th big thing to watch for Canada will be if they can be much sharper in their passing game. The conditions during the match against France did not help things but the French showed it was still possible to pick out a decent pass while Canada struggled to string more than one pass together in any attack. The possession based style of play is a new thing for Canada but having played in two cups already this year the team is on to ninth match already. With so many matches played, granted not all of the core players have featured in the majority of them, the squad should hopefully start showing signs of progress.
Sunday should include one very big milestone for a Canadian player as Diana Matheson could earn her 150th cap for Canada. She is in position to become only the second Canadian international to reach that milestone behind only Christine Sinclair who is currently closing in on her 200th cap with 194 under her belt already.
The game against England will be the final international duty for Canada before the majority of the players on the roster return to North America and get ready to kick off the inaugural season of the NWSL. They will get together in June though for a friendly against the United States at BMO which was sold out within the first day of public ticket sales and should be quite the event.