By Aldwyn McGill
MONTREAL – By the time you read this the results of the semi-finals match between Germany and USA here will be known and so will the results of the second semi-final match between England and defending champion Japan in Vancouver.
The quarter final battles in the east displayed Germany weathering the storm to prevail over France 5-4 on penalty kicks at Montreal’s Olympic stadium and USA getting a decisive strike by Carli Lloyd in the 51st minute at Ottawa Lansdowne Stadium to defeat China 1-0.
In the west it was defending champion Japan advancing to the semi-final from its 1-0 win over Australia at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on a goal scored three minutes from regulation time by substitute Mana Iwabuchi while England defeated Canada 2-1 at BC Place in Vancouver.
Canada’s women’s team gave a valiant effort and should be congratulated for reaching the quarter finals of the 2015 FIFA World Cup although many believe that team should have fared better against England. But without an offence a team will eventually suffer defensively and Canada did just that when it conceded two goals that were three minutes apart in the early stages of the match.
I still think Canada would have had a better chance had Coach John Herdman not stayed with Melissa Tancredi up front as a starter as long as he did when it was obvious her sharpness was in question.
In Tancredi’s only role off the bench Canada scored its first goal in the tournament from the run of play but Herdman not only found a spot for his unproductive striker in the lineup, he in turn limited the use of the reliable Desiree Scott in the midfield.
There was speculation about Scott’s removal in the first match against China PR and the only plausible explanation was the possibility he may have pulled her to avoid suspension due to accumulation of yellow cards.
But Scott was replaced in the second match against New Zealand and left off the starting lineup in the all-important third group match against Netherlands. When you take into account that Scott received her yellow card due to a cheap giveaway of the ball by her centre back Lauren Sesselmann one could only wonder what Herman’s rational for the treatment of his midfielder could be.
Whatever his reasoning it was really disheartening to watch Scott in an emotional state after Canada came up short against England with her as one of their best players in the team on the bench.
France Coach Philippe Bergeroo made a big mistake when his team lost to Germany 5-4 on penalty kicks in their quarter final match in Montreal. He replaced the speedy Elodie Thomis when she was the player creating most of his team’s scoring chances.
After Felippe replaced Thomis it seemed like France’s attack lost the explosiveness it had established from the opening whistle due to her departure from the game. It was also difficult to watch Thomis during the penalty kicks and after the loss when she may have been told that the game was won when replaced.
I am hopeful that the play at the 2015 FIFA World Cup semi-final matches live up to the standard of play and level of excitement produced by France and Germany at the quarter final match. Stay Tuned!