Soccer  > General Soccer  > Morace guides Canada to women's title
December 22, 2010, 12:12 PM
Carolina Morace came from outside of the Canadian women's program. And has turned it inside out.

In less than two years, the Italian has transformed the North American side, winning three titles in 2010 - including its second CONCACAF women's championship. Its November title helped move Canada to ninth in the FIFA rankings, equaling its highest climb.

Canada will lead CONCACAF's delegation to next year's Women's World Cup, heading over with Mexico and the United States, a two-time champion and reigning Olympic gold medalist which unexpected stumbled before becoming the last team to qualify for Germany.

Morace's side was a favorite for a World Cup berth when it left for the qualifying tournament in Cancun, Mexico.

The biggest question was whether it would be able to end a nine-year and 21-game winless streak against its familiar nemesis the United States in what many predicted would be an inevitable match-up in the final.

It never had to find out. The perennially dominant Americans were upset by Mexico in the semifinals and were sent to a two-leg playoff against Italy for a second chance at the World Cup.

But Canada steadily and consistently won its games. A title in the friendly Cyprus Cup title in March gave it confidence heading to Cancun.

Led by Christine Sinclair and teenager Jonelle Filigno, Canada won all five games, outscoring its opponents 17-0. Sinclair recorded six goals, while the 19-year-old Filigno scored three as a substitute and added a fourth in her lone start to make her claim for a regular place on the senior side.

Even heading into Women's World Cup Qualifying, the Canadian women were noticing a change from Morace's predecessor, Even Pellerud.

"I think that she comes from a place where soccer is life and it's just a totally different standard from training sessions to the way you look at the game and the way you play the game," midfielder Diana Matheson said. "She's brought that to us and we've embraced it and we're extremely happy to have that element."

Canada celebrated its CONCACAF title by winning the four-nation Torneio Internacional Cidade de S??o Paulo in Brazil in December, capping its best statistical year in the history of the women's program - 13 wins, three draws and two losses. It also equaled a record by extending its unbeaten streak to 10 matches heading into 2011.

Mexico also reached a new high. While it lost twice to Canada, 3-0 in the group stage and 1-0 in the final, it did what the Canadians were hoping to do - upset the Americans.

Mexico's 2-1 victory was the its first against the United States in 26 tries, was the Americans' first loss in CONCACAF Women's World Cup qualifying and was the biggest women's shocker of the year.

"I think Mexico made us look not so good. They are a very technical team. We tried hard, but we weren't lucky and Mexico had a good goalkeeper. We couldn't put away the chances we created and if you can't do that, you won't win," United States coach Pia Sundhage said. "The women's game is so tight nowadays. There are so many good teams out there, that you have to put away your chances."

For the United States, the loss - its only defeat in 2010 and first in 36 matches since the Beijing Olympics -- sent it to the unfamiliar territory of a playoff against Italy for the last berth in the World Cup. A pair of 1-0 victories salvaged the Americans' World Cup hopes and a bit of its pride.

For all of its achievements, Canada's was drawn with two-time reigning and top-ranked Germany in Group A for the World Cup, and will open against the host June 26 before an expected sellout crowd of 70,000 at Berlin's Olympic Stadium.

Mexico will be in Group B with Japan, New Zealand and England, while the U.S. will contend with North Korea, Colombia and Sweden in Group C

Off the pitch, riding the momentum from a successful year, the Canadian Soccer Association announced its intention to bid for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup.
December 27, 2010  12:19 PM ET

congratulations to canada!


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