The semifinals of the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying have arrived, and heavy favorites Canada will be facing Costa Rica on Friday at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas.
These two nations have more than just trip to the final on their mind, they know that the winner of this match qualifies to the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games in August. For the Canadians, they are attempting to participate in their third consecutive Olympic games. Every time the Canucks qualify to the Olympics they get closer of winning it.
CHRISTINE SINCLAIR HAS UNFINISHED BUSINESS IN THE OLYMPICS
In 2008, they were eliminated by the United States in the quarterfinals by a score of 2-1. In 2012, Les Rouges were once again defeated by the USWNT, but this time it was in the semifinals. The Yanks defeated them 4-3. However, the Canadians rebounded and won the Bronze Medal match by a score of 1-0 against France.
For veteran Christine Sinclair, these Olympic Games represent her last chance to win the gold medal. Sinclair is now 32-years-old, but by the time the games start in Rio she will be 33. For the leading goal scorer of Canada, the next World Cup might be a couple of years too far for her. The next one will be in 2019 in France, she will be 36 years of age. By that time there is no guarantee if she will even be playing professional soccer.
With Sinclair and the rest of the Canadian squad aware of that, they will come out of the gates aggressively looking for a goal. The Canucks midfield has been dominating their opponents by hardly losing the ball. Midfielders Deanne Rose and Ashley Lawrence have been lethal by scoring a combined five goals in the group stages.
Rose and Lawrence are just two out of the 11 players who have scored for Canada in the tournament. The Canadian offense has shown that it does not matter who is on the field they will find a way to score and demolish their opponent.
Costa Rica Struggles On Defense
The Costa Rican defense has already shown that when they face a strong offensive country their defense can easily break down. In the opener of the tournament the USWNT dismantled the Central Americans 5-0 last Wednesday at Toyota Stadium.
Les Rouges fast moving offense will cause havoc for Costa Rica on Friday. Their pace and accurate shooting will most likely lead to a lopsided victory and their ticket to the Olympics. However, if the Central Americans want to compete in their first Olympic Games then they are going have to dig in and take complete advantage of their counters.
The Costa Rican know going into this match that they will not see a lot of the ball. So the minute they are able to recover possession, their attack has to quickly turn on the jets. Also they will need Raquel Rodriguez (five goals) and Karla Villalobos (three goals) to continue producing goals. The two of them have scored eight of the national teams 11 goals in this tournament.
Both Rodriguez and Villalobos will need to consistently provide pressure on the Canadian back line. Their midfield also needs to control as much possession as possible to help relief their defense and allow them to catch their breath. However, Rodriguez or Villalobos, the goalkeeper and the defense cannot afford to have a poor performance.
Canada will be attacking relentlessly, the last thing the Central Americans want is to give up an early goal. The last time they conceded an early goal was to American striker Alex Morgan in the first game of the tournament. It only took 12 seconds for the USWNT to break through and, after that, Costa Rica fell apart and was down by three goals within the first 15 minutes. Similar to the United States, the Canucks will not slow down if they grab an early lead on Friday.