Canada And Mexico Faced Off In An Olympic Celebration Friendly

The Canadian soccer federation held a friendly match on Saturday to honor the women’s soccer team’s bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Canadian women’s national team had an impressive run at the 2016 Rio Olympics. After losing to eventual champions Germany 2-0 in the semifinals, Canada would go on to defeat the host nation Brazil in the bronze medal match, 2-1. 

The result tied their best-ever Olympic performance, which was another bronze in 2012. As the nation’s player pool continues to grow with talent, the success of the last five years will be an encouragement to both young players and investors. 

To honor the team, the federation held a friendly match in Vancouver’s BC Place against Mexico. More than 22,000 fans showed up, making it the largest ever crowd for a women’s international friendly match in British Columbia. 

Canada topped Mexico, 3-2, in an entertaining back-and-forth match. The game also marked the curtain call for three veterans of the team: Marie-Eve Nault, Melissa Tancredi and Rhian Wilkinson. All three had been a significant part of the program's growth in the past decade. 

“It’s been an interesting week for us, because this is a celebration match, to celebrate the medal with our fans, but at the same time saying bye to three legends of this team,” said team captain and all-time leacing scorer Christine Sinclair. “They are some of my best friends that I’ve literally grown up with, but at the same time we wanted to win the game. Very rarely do you get to send off three players like we did tonight, with this atmosphere and this home crowd, and they have meant so much to this team, and this country, and they are going to be missed."

With the success of the team in recent years, the question needs to turn to club soccer. Currently, the federation subsidizes salaries for key national team players in the NWSL. However, the entire NWSL is based in the United States. With three Canadian clubs in the MLS, it seems only natural that a NWSL expansion team should be placed in Canada. 

Vancouver had shown interest before halting operations in 2012. Given the current climate though, a team in Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver would garner support and help expand the reach of the young league. 

Canada next takes to the pitch in early March as part of the Algarve cup, facing Denmark, Russia and Portugal. 

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