Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Beijing 2008 round-up: The but I thought it started Friday edition

Day –2

Your daily Olympic wrap-up

Notable Canadian performance: The only Canadian performance, actually. The Canadian women’s soccer team defeated Argentina 2-1. They are tied for first in Group E with three points. China upset Sweden in the other Group E game to share the lead.

Notable international performance: The U.S. women’s soccer team was stunned by Norway 2-0 and sit in last in Group G. Fear not Yankee lovers. With New Zealand and Japan next up for the USA it seems unlikely that the Americans won’t be playing in the games that count.

The Maple Leaf Gold
(best individual accomplishment by a Canuck on the day): Kara Lang. It only seems like the 21-year-old has been around forever (but it’s scary that she will likely play in three more Olympics if Canada qualifies and will probably end up with more than 300 caps by the time she retires). Lang, who is likely the player that will most benefit from a change in coaching philosophy after the games—she has a great potential as a true distributor of the ball –was everywhere today and scored the winning goal.

Maple Leaf silver (second best accomplishment of day): Candace Chapman, but not for her goal (although scoring is always nice). Chapman was an anchor on defense all game long and, had she not hit the net from 35 yards out, would have been an unsung hero.

Maple Leaf bronze (I suspect you’ve figured it out by now): Christine Sinclair: It would have been nice if she showed a little more finish, but there is a reason she is considered one of the world’s best female players. If Canada is to make noise in this little tournament it will be because Sinclair does something special.

Maple Leaf tin medal (worst luck/performance of the day): Melissa Tancredi. Simply because she went out and got herself injured. On the surface losing the country’s top scorer from the qualifying tournament is a blow, but it could be argued that with Tancredi in the line-up Canada relies too heavily on a pure physical game. She’s a strong athlete and it collects her boatloads on goals against weaker sides, but when the talent goes up the style isn’t as effective. Once Tancredi left the game today, Canada started to play the ball on the ground—that’s a good thing.

Honourary Canadian award (non-Canadian that did so well that we should adopt them and reflect in their glory): Christine Beck. The German referee in the Canada/Argentina game did an outstanding job in ignoring the tic-tac fouls and letting the game speak for itself. Officials that aren’t able to see the difference between a foul and a bigger woman legally out muscling a smaller one often cause Canada problems. Beck got it today and the game was far more compelling than it might have been otherwise because of that.

Canadian highlights for day –1: Do TFC players count? If so Mo Edu and Marvelle Wynne debut for the US against Japan.

International highlight for day –1: Lionel Messi takes to the pitch for Argentina against the Ivory Coast. Although Messi and the boys are favourites, don’t count out the Africans. The Olympics have been where African teams have had the biggest international success.

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