“Sometimes a bronze medal inspires you more than gold.”
Specifically, a women’s soccer bronze medal, says Christine Nesbitt, an Olympic champion speed skater.
“(In London) the women’s soccer team captivated the country … everything they did up to that bronze medal performance is what champions are made of.”
Champions like Nesbitt saw it. The country saw it. And on Sunday, as Canada’s women’s national soccer team has its much-anticipated rematch with the best team in the world, the U.S., we will see it again; this time at home, at a sold out BMO Field in Toronto, ON.
As proven by Canada’s performance at London 2012, head coach John Herdman believes preparation is everything. And when qualification for Rio 2016 approaches for any Olympic hopeful it will be for how long and in what kind of environment they prepared that will matter.
Indeed, the 4-3 loss in the Olympic semifinal was heartbreaking. But, it was on that pitch in Manchester, England where preparation for Rio started and the unforgettable bronze in 2012 gave a new life for women’s soccer in this country.
In Sunday’s case, it is a matter of re-invigorating that hard-core, patriotic pride that fans and athletes share when excellence happens – something Herdman is setting up to repeat early and often.
“(Sunday’s game) will be a great window into the preparation that goes on at the top level and the type of environment we try create for our national teams,” said Herdman in a release. “We will be playing in front of packed house and all of the pressure that goes with that.”
Of the 18 players named to the squad, 10 were featured in the Olympic semifinal. Though there is nothing official at stake, there is a lot on the line for these women.
“It was important for us to bring in a blend of youth and experience for this game,” said Herdman. “We feel we have a good blend of players that have experience playing against USA – but we are also sticking to our task of preparing for the future.”
As of Sunday, Rio is 1,160 days away.
The Canada-USA match itself on Sunday 2 June will be broadcast live coast-to-coast in Canada on all four Sportsnet regional networks (16.30 ET / 13.30 PT).
GK- Karina LeBlanc | USA / Portland Thorns FC
GK- Erin McLeod | USA / Chicago Red Stars
D- Kadeisha Buchanan | USA / West Virginia University
D- Robyn Gayle | USA / Washington Spirit
D- Carmelina Moscato | USA / Chicago Red Stars
D- Rachel Quon | USA / Chicago Red Stars
D- Lauren Sesselmann | USA / FC Kansas City
D- Rhian Wilkinson | USA / Boston Breakers
D- Emily Zurrer | USA / Seattle Reign FC
M- Kaylyn Kyle | USA / Seattle Reign FC
M- Ashley Lawrence | USA / West Virginia University
M- Diana Matheson | USA / Washington Spirit
M- Sophie Schmidt | USA / Sky Blue FC
M- Desiree Scott | USA / FC Kansas City
F- Tiffany Cameron | USA / Seattle Reign FC
F- Christina Julien | RUS / WFC Rossiyanka
F- Christine Sinclair | USA / Portland Thorns FC
F- Melissa Tancredi | unattached