Friendships put on hold
Chill remains in Canada-U.S. ongoing rivalry
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
Burnaby’s christine Sinclair chases a ball against costa rica during a match in Toronto in June.