Progress to report

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 2:29 PM ET

From the outside looking in, it might appear Even Pellerud's Team Canada is going backward.

They're not winning a lot of games around the world this year.

And as his northern girls head into the final international against World Cup champion Germany at 2 p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium today, chances are that they'll lose 3-1 or 3-2.

This will be Canada's fourth game against the world champions this year. They lost 3-1 and 3-2 in Germany and 3-1 again in Vancouver Thursday.

A 1-1 draw against Holland, a 2-0 win over France, a 4-3 win in Denmark, a 3-1 loss in Sweden, a 3-0 loss in Norway and a 2-0 loss in the USA were the other games his team played in this year.

And Pellerud is OK with all that, although he'd love his girls to take a win over the world champions to finish their season and into next year's World Cup qualifying run.

"We're playing the top teams, all the games have been close and we're closing some gaps.''

Until they played Germany in Vancouver, all the games were overseas.

These two return engagements against Germany are the first home games Pellerud's team has played since 29,593 watched Canada beat Mexico 8-0 here in their going-away game enroute to finishing fourth at the 2003 Women's World Cup.

Results will be important again for Pellerud when his team gets back together next year for World Cup qualifying. But the games this year are about development and building belief.

"We're here to get results and not get results,'' is how the coach - and author of the just released book Even Pellerud on Coaching and Leadership in Women's Soccer - put it.

He'd love to see his team end up with a win over the world champions. But he says the year has been about getting games against the top teams in the world and using them for all they're worth.

"I was pretty pleased with our performance in the loss in Vancouver,'' he said.

"We played well against them. We were attacking with more variation and more skill. We played a 15-year-old at fullback, which was an unfair thing to do,'' he said of giving Jodi-Ann Robinson her first cap for Canada only to watch her get burned for one of the goals.

"I don't care about the record. It's getting exposure to the best teams and executing skill and pressure against the best teams. It's different exhibiting skills with no pressure.

"If you play the top teams like we're attempting to play them and do it again and again and again as a player, you'll climb up there,'' said the coach who took Norway into World Cup champions before taking the job in Canada.

Pellerud, who went with Karina LeBlanc in goal in Vancouver against Germany, will go to Calgary-native Taryn Swiatek for this one.

He'll also have Edmonton's Sasha Andrews and Coquitlam's Brittany Timko in the lineup after the two were forced to miss the Vancouver game due to a schedule conflict with their U.S. college Nebraska squad.

He's fuming because Notre Dame wouldn't release Candace Chapman and Katie Thorlakson and Portland wouldn't release his top player, Christine Sinclair.

"Portland is especially disappointing,'' said Pellerud. "With Notre Dame there was big travel involved. But not with Portland.''

FIFA doesn't have an agreement with the NCAA like they do with pro teams.

Pellerud can do nothing but remind U.S. college coaches that Canada has become a hot bed of women's soccer talent and "coaches can play a real part in where they accept their scholarships.''


Videos

Photos