Having lost their opening game to Ghana, Canada face an uphill battle in their attempts to reach the knockout phase of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. But if the hosts are seeking inspiration in their attempts to bounce back and defy the odds, they need look no further than to one of their own.
Will Johnson, Canada's reigning men's player of the year, this week represented Major League Soccer in the division's annual All-Star match. The team's opponents were the mighty Bayern Munich, still flying high on the back of the success enjoyed by so many of their players at the FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil.
Few teams can live with the German champions when they are on form, and when Robert Lewandowski scored a wonder goal with the game just eight minutes old, it seemed a heavy defeat for the MLS select might be on the cards. However, with Johnson his usual industrious, dynamic self in midfield after being introduced at half-time, the league's thrown-together team held their nerve before ultimately battling back to win 2-1.
It’s a great thing to have Canada hosting this event; the country always does such a great job with these tournaments.
The same kind steel will now, of course, be required of Andrew Olivieri's U-20 women, and Johnson told FIFA.com that he will be rooting for the girls as they attempt to salvage their campaign.
"It is unfortunate that they lost their first game, but hopefully they can bounce back in their second and third matches," he said. "It’s a great thing to have Canada hosting this event; the country always does such a great job with these tournaments."
Club commitments will prevent the international midfielder witnessing first-hand the lengths to which his countrymen and women are going to make the current U-20 finals a tournament to remember. He is, however, keen to return home for next year's senior FIFA Women's World Cup™, and revealed a hope that it will lead to another glittering global showpiece arriving on Canadian soil.
"I’d love to get up and catch a game next summer, maybe in Vancouver," he said. "And I’m sure Canada will do a great job hosting that tournament as well. Hopefully it can even lead to us hosting the men's World Cup, maybe in 2026. That would be fantastic."