VANCOUVER, B.C. – Canada and Costa Rica met on the pitch last night at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver. Both teams came into the game with a chance to finish first in “Group A’ most likely avoiding a crucial semi-final game against number one ranked Team USA. Canada started their most talented lineup of the tournament and defeated Costa Rica 5-1. Four of Canada’s goals came in the first half when they played with emotion, urgency, and fantastic pace. As a result Team Canada will play Team USA or Mexico Friday night with the winner earning a trip to the Summer Olympics in London.
Christine Sinclair scored 2 goals and added an assist. She was the most dangerous player on the pitch all evening. Coach John Herman decided not to sub off Canada’s best player leaving her open to a possible injury at the worst time of the tournament. Sinclair’s goals came in the 7th and 45th minutes. Sinclair leads the tournament with 7 goals and has scored 127 times at the international level for Canada. Sinclair has scored in every game Canada has played this year. It’s clear that Team Canada would be lost in the dark without Christine Sinclair. The offensive game plan goes directly through #12 whenever she’s on the pitch. Sinclair will be at the centre of attention during Canada’s all important semi-final game on Friday. Sinclair spoke to the media about Canada’s next game: “Our goal heading into this tournament was to finish first in our group and I think we did that convincingly. You’ve got to look at the Americans their ranked number one in the world for a reason. I think ideally you finish first in our group to avoid the Americans but whoever we play we’ll be ready.”
After having numerous chances to scoring against Cuba on Saturday night Sophie Schmidt finally found the back of the net. Scoring against Costa Rica’s goalkeeper Julieth Arias in the 10th minute. This was Schmidt’s first goal of the tournament as she continues to play a huge role in Canada’s starting eleven. After the game Schmidt was looking forward to the next game: “Our next game is do or die regardless if it’s against the US or Mexico. We need a win. We have that rivalry going with the US. We haven’t beaten them in a very long time so I think that maybe deep down inside were hoping for Mexico but regardless of who it is it’s the same situation.”
Midfielder Kaylyn Kyle scored a highlight reel goal in the 19th minute when she dove and flung her head towards the ball to direct Sinclair’s pass from the wing into the net. Kyle’s goal sent the spectators known as the “Southsiders” into a frenzy as they chanted “We all dream of a team of Kaylyn Kyles.”
Team Canada made a pair of substitutions at half-time. Robyn Gayle of Mississauga, Ontario came on for Rhian Wilkinson and Delta, BC, native Chelsea Buckland came on for Kaylyn Kyle. Canada’s final substitution was made in the 62nd minute when Coquitlam, BC, defender Brittany Timko came on for Abbotsford’s Sophie Schmidt.
Surprisingly it wasn’t Canada that opened the scoring in the second half. In the 50th minute Costa Rican defender Marianne Ugalde decided to pass back to her goalkeeper Julieth Arias who flat-out missed the ball as it slowly rolled past her and into the net. Officially Costa Rica was credited with an own goal. Costa Rica struck again in the 89th minute and this time at the right end of the stadium. Raquel Rodriguez setup Fernanda Barrantes with a lovely pass that sent her in alone off the wing towards Canadian goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc. LeBlanc had no chance and Barrantes hammered the ball into the top corner for Costa Rica’s 5th goal of the tournament.
Following the game Coach John Herdman wasn’t interested in sharing his potential starting lineup for Friday’s game with the media. When asked if he would be a fan of the USA when they play Mexico on Tuesday night Herdman said, this: “No not really. I think in Canada you can never be a fan of the USA. We’ll take what’s given. These players are ready no matter what happens.” Canada’s next game will be against the loser of USA vs Mexico. Canada will play their TBD opponent on Friday night at BC Place Stadium at 8pm.
Notes: Christine Sinclair and defender Shannon Woeller are the only players to start all three games for Canada. This was the first game of the tournament without a clean sheet for either team. The attendance for the game was 8,105.