Sports ‘n Things: Canada slinks out of women’s World Cup contention

Team Canada women’s soccer coach makes fatal error in elimination match against Sweden

It was great that the weather broke almost perfectly last Sunday, so several hundred local ball fans could take in the Trail – Cubans (Union de Reyes, mostly alumni) game.

Entertaining game, happy crowd, kinks being eased out of the services to be available at the end of next month and on the long weekend, when the Orioles will, once again, host the provincial championship tournament.

The Cuban players were fun, talented, fast, and deserved to win, if not, perhaps, in quite the blowout that appeared in the final box score. A highlight for this old catcher was the incredible arm of the Union de Reyes backstop. There are not many, even in the major leagues, with quite as much pure arm strength as that guy.

Too bad that talent was so obvious, because we never got to see used in seriousness – no Oriole was even tempted to test it.

All part of, one hopes, a re-introduction for locals to the fact this was always a great baseball town.

Well worth the effort from all involved.

• The Cuban team went on to be thumped by the Burnaby Bulldogs in their opening game of the Grand Forks Invitational Tournament on Tuesday, but that is one game and nothing has been decided.

As I write this, those same Bulldogs are three outs away from knocking off perennial contender, current U.S. senior amateur national champion and two-time defending GTI champion Seattle Studs (Thursday morning).

Spoiler Alert! The Bulldogs will be prohibitive favourites at the provincials in Butler Park.

• As you read this, you have already missed your opportunity to watch the Trail Youth Baseball finals, at Butler, unless it absolutely poured Thursday afternoon. Too bad, the kids would have loved to see you out there in support.

Next year, pay attention. The Trail Youth Baseball web site is a fount of mostly accurate information.

• Not that baseball season is over here just yet. The contending AA Orioles will host North Central in their last regular season games, July 13, 1 and 3 p.m. at Butler, and the senior Orioles team will have three games with Vernon as a warmup for the provincials two weeks after that.

If you have forgotten, or never knew, what a great little entertainment venue Butler Park is. you should make an effort to investigate it.

• I want to fire the Canadian Women’s Soccer Team coach. There have been attempts to mitigate the disappointment of the team being out of the World Cup earlier than usual, but they are, to put it kindly, disingenous.

Given an opportunity to very likely at least force extra time in the round of 16 knockout game, the team somehow decided that it was okay that Christine Sinclair graciously allowed a basic beginner to take on the effort. That beginner telegraphed her play and the Swedish keeper, even hampered by the new stickiness of the penalty kick goaltender status, was there in lots of time to stop the rolling effort.

Let’s See!

Sinclair is the best player in the history of female soccer, and soon will be its most prolific scorer, despite playing on representative teams without the firepower to free her up with chances.

In the event of a loss, Sinclair, who has often single-handedly made Canada competitive, would be finished with the World Cup competition.

The tactical plan of the current coach allowed the team to create almost no good opportunities to score during live play, and he did not adjust that plan one iota, allowing Sweden’s, “Park the Bus in the Area,” tactic to stifle any potential Canadian offence – so a successful PK was likely the only possible way for Canada to score, in a game they lost 1-0 to essentially Sweden’s only on target attempt of the game.

How that added up to not using the best player in the world to optimize Canada’s chances is a mystery. It will hang the result around the neck of the beginner, and the coach, forever – even though the coach should be gone soon. The beginner, offered the pressure by the gracious women best equipped to handle it, should simply have said, “He.. No.”

Dumb and disappointing to see a great star go out with such a team whimper.

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