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WWC 2015 Preview: Canada Has The Support, But Not Much Else

As hosts of the 2015 World Cup, Canada will have throngs of boisterous fans willing them to victory no matter where they play this Summer, the kind of built in support that most nations would kill for. Yet, no team has won a World Cup on home soil since the United States’ women did in 1999. International power houses such as Brazil and Germany have both had their shots at winning the cup on home soil, and failed, with Germany failing to convert both a men’s and women’s World Cup into a victory. There are no guarantees in soccer, and home field advantage is no exception. Canada knows this, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try and ride their wave of support to as many victories as possible. 

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Canada’s coach, John Herdman. “We have a major advantage going into this tournament because we know Canada and we have Canadians behind us.”  

Herdman is responsible for guiding Canada through one of its most successful periods of all time, one that has included a first place finish in the Pan-American Games and a Bronze at the 2012 Olympics. He has been able to bring the best out of Canada before, the entire nation is waiting to see if he can do it on soccer’s biggest stage. 

Canada is not home to the deepest or most talented team in the world. Herdman will have to rely upon veterans such as superstar Christine Sinclair, midfielders Diana Matheson and Sophie Schmidt, defender Rhian Wilkinson, and goalkeeper Erin McLeod. These ladies have seen what it takes succeed on the international stage, and all were part of the team that fought against the USWNT in one of the games of the century during the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics. As much faith as those veterans rightfully command, fans of Canada must be afraid of the paucity of talent found outside of them. 

17-year-old midfielder Jessie Fleming and 19-year-old defender Kadeisha Buchanan are both amazing prospects, but they are not the finished product. They are no where near capable of turning in the kind of performance that can turn around a World Cup match, not even in the group stages. 

Canada is not helped by the fact that it finds itself in arguably the most competitive group outside of the Group of Death. Between itself, ranked 8th,  the Dutch (12th), the Chinese (16th), and the Kiwis (17th), Canada will face off against a group of teams separated by a grand total of 9 spots in FIFA’s World Rankings. And the games might be even closer than that suggests. Canada will be tested early and often, so it’s a good thing that Canadian Captain Sinclair thinks that her team is “peaking at the right time.”

“It's incredibly exciting… I'm sure it's going to be a fantastic tournament and I must say that I feel good about how the Canada team is shaping up.”

Though, I am not really sure what she is so excited about.

Canada started off 2015 brilliantly, winning 6 games in a row. However, their best win came against Italy, who are ranked 13th in the world. Good, but not exactly statement win material. Those 6 wins were followed by two losses against the exact kind of teams that Canada needs to beat in order to make anything resembling noise this summer: 6th ranked England and 3rd ranked France. 

That being said, Canada has a good chance of progressing the the quarterfinals whether it wins its group or not. A win would see it face a variety of beatable teams in the Round of 16, or what ever team gets spat out in 3rd place by the Group of Death: likely Australia (10th).

A second place finish would see it play Switzerland or, and highly unlikely, Japan. 

Things get real, real quick in the quarterfinals. Canada has the potential to play the USWNT, France, England, or Norway. The first two might as well be pencilled in as automatic losses — though Canada would benefit from familiarity with the USWNT, as a majority of both teams’ players play in the NWSL — while a match against England or Norway would be too close to call. 

All things considered, I see Canada making it to the quarterfinals and no further. A semifinal would be worthy of a national holiday, a final may as well go down in history as a confirmed miracle. Canada has the support, it just doesn’t have anything else.

Follow me on Twitter: @yetly

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