The Edmonton Sun: Olympic dream gone
The editorial from today's paper
The dream have been dashed. There will be no trip to the Olympics for the Canadian women's soccer team after Canada lost to Mexico 2-1 last week in the Olympic qualifying tournament.
What was considered a sure thing after the girls finished a surprising fourth in the Women's World Cup just last fall has resulted in Canada being on the outside looking in.
Not surprisingly, the girls are crushed. Charmaine Hooper, who has been with the team for 18 years, said it was a "major low."
Believe us, we're disappointed too. Indeed, Edmontonians are probably taking this harder than Canadians anywhere else in this country. It was this city that gave birth to the popularity of women's soccer in Canada, with the magical FIFA U-19 tournament in 2002 capturing the hearts of tens of thousands of Edmontonians and igniting the dreams of untold numbers of teenage girls to play soccer.
Since then, Edmonton has been the unofficial home of the women's team, getting 30,000 screaming fans out last summer to watch Canada blow out Mexico 8-0 in a meaningless exhibition game.
Losing out on the Olympics is a devastating blow to a team that had come so far so fast under coach Even Pellerud. The team will have to learn from it and move on.
That's not the usual sports cliche, either. While the Canadian girls have had remarkable success in the last two years, they really have overachieved. And, in retrospect, Sun writer Jeremy Loome was right about the team's real talent - or lack of it - after all. This paper's city editor and noted soccer afficionado took a lot of heat last October when he penned a column saying the Canadian women's soccer team wasn't nearly as good as it thought.
Loome said that Canada's dump-and-chase style of soccer, while temporarily effective in throwing off opponents and stealing games in which the Canadians had been outplayed, wasn't enough for long-term success. "Guts, strength, sheer athleticism, while important, aren't a solid future on which to build a team," Loome wrote. "Dump and chase soccer will not keep us competitive in the long run."
And what happened against Mexico last week? High winds took away Canada's long-ball game, and the Canadian team didn't have the technical smarts to play the ball on the ground instead. The result was the shocking loss to a team that they had previously beaten 10 out of 10 times and had outscored 38-4 before last Wednesday's humbling defeat.
Now, all that's left to do is look ahead to the 2007 World Cup and the 2008 Olympics. The next few years must be spent ensuring that the team returns to international competition with a broader game plan than just the high-stakes game of attacking it has played until now.
And when they do, we'll be here cheering them on.
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