Originally published on CanadaSoccer.com
Soccer, like most things people analyze, can be seen through a series of short as well as long strokes. The score for instance, is a short stroke. It reveals a portion of the story, but not enough to provide a complete picture. For that we need to look at the surrounding context, the strokes that incorporate a longer history into the narrative.
In the case of Canada’s semi-final match at the 2014 America Cup the short stroke was the 1:6 defeat to Brazil. Based solely on the score the match report could easily read: Brazil scores two in the first, four in the second and Canada gets spanked.
But that would be doing the Team a disservice, because there is more to the picture. Yes, the Team lost by a wide margin. But 11th ranked Canada was also playing the third best team in the world. And it did so while fielding one of the youngest starting line-ups in the tournament.
“We knew it was going to be a tough,” says Head Coach Drew Ferguson. “It may seem like a thumping but, considering we had a 16-year-old, two 17- year-olds and a 18-year-old on the field we’re not disappointed. This is about moving forward.”
And what the players encountered against Brazil is the level they will experience at next year’s Para Pan Am Games, as well as at the 2015 World Championships – a direct qualifier for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio - which the team qualified for by reaching the semi-finals.
“A year from now,” says Ferguson “our guys will be stronger, bigger. Are we going to beat Brazil next year? Probably not. But we can possibly get into the top eight [in the rankings] and that will send us to Rio , so that’s our bright future.”
And, even now, against Brazil, Canada showed sparks of its potential, competing for possession – despite being down 0:6 - right up until the end. This determination paid off when, Canada, with only minutes left, became the first team to score on Brazil, thus far in the tournament.
Furthermore, despite not moving on to the Finals there remains plenty to celebrate. Especially considering the Team is still in contention for a medal at the America Cup. Its opponent in the bronze medal match will be USA, who lost 1:2 against Argentina in the other semi-final.
“They [USA] too are more experienced than we are,” says Ferguson, “but the last few games between us have been tight, with lots of action on both sides. So it’s a game where we can go and get a result, but if we don’t play well we won’t win. I think it’s safe to say that those who watch will enjoy.”
The bronze medal game will be played on Friday 26th September at 15.00 ET / 12.00 PT at the University of Toronto Pan Am Fields. The match will also be streamed live on OSA’s website.