Canada Soccer reviews the top 10 moments that defined Canadian football in 2011.
1. Jackson takes Norwich to the Premier League
Promotion success in England is nothing new to Simeon Jackson, but the Canadian striker’s exploits during the final stretch of the 2010-11 club season for Norwich City FC raised his reputation as a clutch goal scorer to an entirely new level.
The truth about Jackson’s 2010-11 season, however, was that the Mississauga-native struggled to earn a regular spot during the majority of the season after arriving at Norwich City in the English Championship. So when Simeon Jackson came on as a second-half substitute for Norwich late in the season at home to Scunthorpe on 2 April, few could have predicted what was to come.
Jackson scored a remarkable hat-trick in just 20 minutes at Carrow Road in a performance that jump-started a blistering run of form for the striker as Norwich mounted a late charge to claim the second automatic promotion spot to the English Premier League.
The 2009 Canadian Player of the Year scored eight goals over a six-match span to help bring Norwich to the verge of promotion to the Premier League ahead of a crucial fixture away to Portsmouth on 2 May. So the scene for a classic promotion battle was set. Thousands of Norwich City fans had travelled down from Norfolk to England’s south coast to pack the away end at Fratton Park and millions more watched-on as the match was televised nationally in the United Kingdom and around the world. Norwich knew that a win would likely see them promoted to the Premier League.
With the score locked at nil-nil and the two teams giving little away, it was Jackson who eventually found the goal that would see Norwich promoted back to the top flight of English football.
City’s David Fox floated a curling ball to the back post and the Canadian striker made no mistake in heading the chance home to send the thousands of the Norwich faithful behind the goal into a frenzy.
Norwich hung on to win the game 1:0 and the result proved enough to earn promotion the Premier League.
Worldwide headlines bearing Jackson’s name were beamed around the globe as he and the club completed a fairy-tale journey back to the highest level back of the English game.
In total, Jackson put together a run of nine goals in seven games to play a starring role in the promotion success of Norwich City.
2. De Ro named MLS MVP
There are few honours that have eluded Dwayne De Rosario over the course of his storied career for club and country. So at the age of 33, in a season of such turmoil for De Rosario, being crowned Major League Soccer Most Valuable Player is likely his greatest achievement to date.
De Rosario was traded twice in quick succession during the 2011 season before eventually arriving at DC United where he enjoyed his most prolific run. ‘De Ro’ notched 13 goals and seven assists for DC including a notable hat trick against his former club Toronto FC.
Throughout the season he was lauded for not only his creative attacking play, but his exemplary standard of fitness for a player of his age.
3. Sinclair scores… with a broken nose
Ultimately Christine Sinclair will walk away with precious few positive memories from Germany 2010™, but she will always have a special goal to cherish.
After taking a blow to face in Canada’s FIFA Women’s World Cup™ opener against hosts Germany, Sinclair intrepidly played on, captaining her side despite an injury she and her teammates knew was a broken nose.
With Canada down two-nil in the second half, Sinclair managed to curl an absolute pearler of a free kick past goalkeeper Nadine Angerer to silence the 77,000 German supporters in Berlin.
4. Gold in Guadalajara
There is nothing sweeter in sport than redemption. So following the disappointment of Germany 2011, Canada reinstated itself as one of the powers in women’s football with a gold-medal performance at 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara.
Christine Sinclair popped up with a dramatic late equalizer against Brazil in the final before Karina LeBlanc came up bigger making saves in the decisive kicks from the penalty mark. The whole team’s five-match performance led to Canada’s first gold at the Pan American Games.
5. Canada qualifies for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, wins silver in CONCACAF
After 16 years, Canada found its way back to the FIFA U-17 World Cup with an impressive run at the CONCACAF Men’s Under-17 Championship. The team not only qualified, but set the tempo for the 12-team competition. It was only in extra time of the championship final that the team slipped, finishing second with a silver medal behind USA.
At the FIFA U-17 World Cup, Canada earned further praise for its play and won its first-ever point after a remarkable goal by goalkeeper Quillan Roberts.
6. Sinclair’s MVP performance in WPS Final
After proving to be, yet again, one of the unbridled superstars in Women’s Professional Soccer, Christine Sinclair scored the opening goal in the league’s championship final after latching onto a pass from fellow Canadian international Candace Chapman.
Sinclair scored again during kicks from the penalty mark as the expansion Western New York Flash captured the WPS Championship. It perhaps comes as no surprise that Sinclair was named MVP of the final.
7. 7:0 in St. Lucia
It’s not everyday that Canada wins a Men’s FIFA World Cup Qualifier™ seven-nil. In fact, it had never happened before.
Canada were simply in the mood for a romp on 11 October as Simeon Jackson netted a hat trick to lead Stephen Hart’s side to a record-breaking win in a FIFA World Cup Qualifiers™ match. Jackson was Canada’s first hat trick hero in FIFA World Cup Qualifier™ in 16 years.
8. Dunfield and Ricketts bring BMO Field to life
It may only have been a friendly, but Canada’s match against Ecuador on 1 June generated some of the most electric moments in the brief history of international football at BMO Field in Toronto.
Terry Dunfield scored his long-sought-after first goal for Canada, and it was an absolute screamer from distance.
Tosaint Ricketts then equalled Dunfield’s feat with an opportunistic goal and a chest-thumping, board-kicking celebration to match.
9. Toronto FC qualify for CCL knock-out stages
Not since 2008-09 had a Canadian side qualified for the quarter-final stage of the CONCACAF Champions League, but on October 18 Toronto FC broke the drought.
Despite being listed as the underdogs, Toronto battled its way to a 3:0 victory of FC Dallas to book a place in the knock-out stages of the competition against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
10. Vancouver arrives in MLS
It was everything that Vancouver Whitecaps FC could have hoped for on its entrance to Major League Soccer. The ‘Caps won the first-ever Canadian derby match in MLS defeating Toronto FC in a dramatic contest that ended as a 4:2 victory for Vancouver.
It was precisely the type of drama that will undoubtedly propel the future Canadian rivalries between Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal to new levels of intensity and excitement for soccer fans nationwide.
Canada Soccer outlines return to soccer guidelines. The return to soccer guidelines provide member organizations with a five-step process, including a checklist of weighted questions known as the Return to Soccer Assessment Tool.