Saturday, June 1, 2013

US Soccer Doubleheader June 2nd

On Sunday June 2nd, US Soccer continues the 100th anniversary celebration by having a rare doubleheader of "friendlies". First the US Men's National Team takes on world power Germany at 2:30pm ET on ESPN. Then the US Women's National Team takes on Canada in Toronto at 4:30pm ET on ESPNews in the anticipated rematch of the controversial game from the London 2012 Olympics.

In the men's game, USA will be playing against mostly bench players from Germany. However, bench players on Germany would likely be starters on most other teams, so it won't be much easier for them. Also missing will be Landon Donovan, who hasn't been called up for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers in June. However it was just announced he will be on the 2013 Gold Cup roster. He makes the team better, so not seeing him at the 2014 World Cup should the US qualify would be a surprise.

Then comes the main event, being dubbed simply "The Rematch" by the Canadian Soccer Federation. The game sold out in less than an hour, as 22,000 people will be packing into BMO Field in Toronto to watch rivals Canada & USA meet for the first time since the outstanding semi-final match at the 2012 London Olympics. Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan will of course be on hand, as well as Canadian star Christine Sinclair. Hope Solo is still recovering from surgery, so she did not make the trip. Sinclair & Morgan are NWSL teammates for the Portland Thorns, so it will be fun to see them as opponents once again. Even though this is a friendly, it will be an intense back and forth match that both teams want to win even though it doesn't have an impact on anything besides the FIFA rankings. Expect an involved crowd and for the boos to rain down on USA, especially Sydney Leroux, the dual Canadian-American citizen who chose to play for the US over Canada.

This is no doubt a huge match for Canada. Its a fantastic test to see how they handle the pressure of so many hometown eyes on them. A sold out crowd and millions watching on TV, facing one of the world's best teams on their own turf. In two years, Canada will stage the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, and the attention will be far greater. A strong showing on Sunday would increase fans' interest and excitement even more than it already is. One thing is certain, the 2015 Women's World Cup should work wonders for soccer in general in Canada, much like the 1994 World Cup & 1999 Women's World Cup did for soccer in the USA. The Canadian women have already become well known stars thanks to their bronze medal performance at the Olympics, and its great that the USA finally has a team that can challenge them in CONCACAF.

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