VANCOUVER, B.C - The West Coast has been home to the Canadian women's national team program for some time, however the same can't be said for the Canadian men's national team. The women's side have long been based out of Vancouver and more often than not they hold their residency camps in Burnaby at the Fortius Sport & Health Centre. BC Place has been home to many friendlies featuring the women's team. Unfortunately, the same does not hold true with the Canada's men's team.
Football in Canada is growing and a lot of that is thanks to the marketing, matches, and success of the women's program. Christine Sinclair and her teammates have been in the spotlight ever since the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany. With the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup and the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup kicking off in Canada this and next year, Canadians across the country will be getting a heavy dose of football but not from the male variety.
On July 2, 2005, Swangard Stadium hosted 4,000 spectators as Canada lost 2-1 to Honduras. Kevin McKenna scored for Canada and since then, the men's national team has not played a match in Vancouver.
While in Vancouver last week, Victor Montagliani, the Canadian Soccer Association President and National Organization Committee Chairman commented on why the Canada's men's team hasn't played in Vancouver recently.
"The men's cycles are a little bit different,” Montagliani told RedNation.” A lot of our players play in Europe. You can only from a friendly perspective, you can only probably have one or two (Home) friendlies a year and that's going to become more and more difficult because the calendar of official matches will be more and more. I see the men's team at some point playing here (Vancouver. It will just have to fit into the cycle."
The FIFA calendar and the amount of days players can be recalled to their respective national team plays a big part in the scheduling of international friendlies. With Vancouver being on the West Coast a long travel day does not make sense for European based players. Montagliani believes a new window will hopefully provide a better opportunity.
"For instance, on a 48-hour window, which now FIFA is starting to eliminate, it was always impossible to have it,” Montagliani explained. “Now with the windows being seven to ten days I think we'll have more opportunities in the next few years."
As the 2014 FIFA World Cup begins this week, many managers decided to bring their squads to North America to play friendlies in preparation for the tournament. This would seem like a terrific opportunity for the Canadian men's team to arrange some fixtures against competition that would otherwise not be in North America at this time.
A World Cup bound squad might overpower Canada, however, the likes of Azerbaijan, Israel, Turkey, Bolivia, and El Salvador all recently played matches in North America. Canada did not play these teams or any World Cup bound teams. Canada opted to play a pair of friendlies in Austria against Bulgaria and Moldova. Neither match was televised in Canada and both matches finished in a 1-1 draw.
Montagliani talked about why Canada decided to play a pair of friendlies in Europe as opposed to North America.
"Our technical staff looked at it and we had played quite a few top twenty-five to top thirty teams last fall,” Montagliani said. “We set out a two-year program and this was part of that. We wanted to play our European based players and we didn't want them travelling over here. We wanted to make it more comfortable for them. They just came off a long season. We wanted to play teams that were ranked where those two teams (Bulgaria, and Moldova) are ranked. In the fall we will start our next phase which is playing CONCACAF teams. There is a method to what we are trying to do."
The men's team will next be in action on September 9, at BMO Field in Toronto when they host Jamaica. Canada will also play an away match on November 18, against Panama.
Montagliani also revealed that Canada will announce an October match against a yet to be named CONCACAF opponent.
Notes: Canada currently sits 110 in the latest FIFA rankings.