Women shooting blanks

Team Canada's Kara Lang gestures after her penalty shot against the U.S. in a friendly match in...

Team Canada's Kara Lang gestures after her penalty shot against the U.S. in a friendly match in Toronto on Monday. (Sun Media/Stan Behal)

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

TORONTO -- The new era in women's soccer looked a lot like the old era.

Canada's national women's team has a new coach and supposedly a new identity.

What was on display last night was shockingly disappointing as the U.S. defeated Canada 4-0 in an international friendly last night in front of 10,255.

No one said change would come easily or quickly.

It was the 45th meeting between the teams and the U.S. has won 38, with Canada winning three and the other four resulting in draws. Canada's last win was 3-0 in June 2001.

It was new coach Carolina Morace's home debut with the national team after having gone 2-1-1 in her four previous games. Despite the score, Morace was relatively upbeat about the performance.

"I don't think the United States is four goals better," Morace said. "Unfortunately they scored a goal early and left us unbalanced and scored late in the first half.

"I would prefer to lose against a team like the United States 4-0 that is strong and an Olympic champion than play an easier team and win 3-0."

Under coach Even Pellerud, the Canadians usually wore out opponents who weren't as big or strong. It was kick the ball long and chase it.

But when they matched up with teams that were physically comparable, they would find things a lot more difficult to manage.

Morace is looking for a fitter and more technically skilled team that can control the ball and move it around the pitch.

She is changing not only the way the team plays, but also the mindset.

"The changes are already happening. We didn't see all the long balls," Morace said. "The problem is not only changing the style of play.

"Some players are afraid of making mistakes. They don't want the ball. If they are afraid of making mistakes, they won't get better."

If you are able to hold the ball, you don't chase as much and as a result aren't worn out buy the 70th minute.

You also create more opportunities for your front players.

"As a team, we're somewhat satisfied," said striker Christine Sinclair. "We've improved. We're only been together 22 days as a group and we've come a long way.

"We have a long way to go, but we're all excited for the program. We're in it 100%."

Sinclair was looking for her 100th goal in international competition last night. She didn't get a good chance at it.

American Abby Wambach was also looking for her 100th. She had a couple of chances, but also didn't connect.

Not much seemed to have changed between the two teams.

The Americans stunned Canada with an opener in the second minute.

They allowed midfielder Shannon Boxx and she took advantage of it. She moved to the top of the penalty box and stung a shot from that found the left side of the net. Canadian goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc could do nothing about it.

The Americans controlled the flow of play, collapsing the Canadian midfield and using overlapping runs to open spaces.

Canada went down 2-0 almost on the halftime whistle. Once again they gave the Americans too much room at the edge of the box and Megan Rapinoe made them pay with a perfect shot that curled into the bottom right-hand corner just inside the post.

It was a little better in the second half. Morace made some substitutions that allowed for more movement and created a few chances.

But Canada had trouble putting together three passes in a possession. It's hard to control the ball when you can't pass.

The United States rounded out the thumping with a goal in the 77th minute by Lindsay Tarpley and one in the 80th minute by Lauren Cheney.

Boxx said she noticed a chance in style of play.

"Canada is a tough, strong team," Boxx said. "But they were working the ball looking for possession and they did a good job. I found myself defending a lot."

Last night's game was the first time the teams have met in Canada since 2001 and only the fifth time they'd played in Canada.

Canada will have to find a way to beat their southern neighbours considering how often they meet each other in major tournaments and qualifiers.

After last night's performance, that still looks a long way off.


Videos

Photos