Friend­ships put on hold

Chill re­mains in Canada-U.S. on­go­ing ri­valry

Metro Canada (Vancouver) - - SPORTS -

The feel­ings might not be as heated, the dis­like not as in­tense, but there hasn’t been a to­tal thaw in the ri­valry be­tween the Canadian and U.S. women’s na­tional soc­cer teams.

Time and fa­mil­iar­ity has di­alled down the an­i­mos­ity that once pre­vailed be­tween the two teams. But that doesn’t mean all will be for­given when Canada hosts the U.S. Thurs­day night be­fore a sold out crowd at BC Place Sta­dium in the first leg of a two-match in­ter­na­tional friendly se­ries.

Canadian cap­tain Christine Sin­clair said play­ing for the Port­land Thorns of the Na­tional Women’s Soc­cer League has soft­ened her at­ti­tude. She is team­mates with some of the U.S. women and faces oth­ers on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

“I’ve been asked so many times this week about the ri­valry be­tween the two coun­tries,” Sin­clair said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in ad­vance of the match. “For me per­son- ally it has taken a lit­tle bit of a dif­fer­ent path.

“Player for player things have changed. I’m friends with a bunch of them. Half of our na­tional team plays in the NWSL with their play­ers. It’s changed in that sense.”

See­ing the Canadian flags in the stands and hear­ing the na­tional an­them does rekin­dle old fires.

“Once you put on the na­tional team jersey, you’re play­ing for Canada against the U.S.,” said Sin­clair. “All those friend­ships are for­got­ten for 90 min­utes.”

Some of the U.S. play­ers the Cana­di­ans love to hate won’t be on the pitch Thurs­day. Abby Wam­bach has re­tired. Hope Solo isn’t part of this team.

That doesn’t mean old grudges are for­got­ten.

“The ri­valry is still there,” said de­fender Becky Sauer­brunn, the U.S. co-cap­tain. “Yes, we have a lot of new faces on both sides, but I think be­cause of the his­tory, that al­ways stays within a team. It’s al­ways in the team’s DNA.”

Canada coach John herd­man

Chris Young/The Canadian Press/The Canadian Press

Burn­aby’s christine Sin­clair chases a ball against costa rica dur­ing a match in Toronto in June.

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