The Players: Diana Matheson

If there is a group of Canadian players that has really enjoyed the change in style brought along by Carolina Morace and her coaching staff, it is the midfielders. As to which player exemplifies that change better than anyone else, it is Oakville midfielder Diana Matheson.

If there is a group of Canadian players that has really enjoyed the change in style brought along by Carolina Morace and her coaching staff, it is the midfielders. As to which player exemplifies that change better than anyone else, it is Oakville midfielder Diana Matheson.



Now in her ninth season with the national team and preparing for her third FIFA Women’s World Cup, she has developed into one of the best midfielders in the women’s game.



“I get the ball a lot more, so I have become a lot more comfortable with the ball in international matches,” said Matheson. “With Carolina, I’m getting better with the ball at my feet, distributing more, turning more on the field and just being comfortable receiving the ball, distributing the ball and attacking.”



Matheson has always been an exciting player, although under the previous system she saw the ball far less. She was a “feisty payer” who “could run around and win a lot of balls.” She still has those qualities, although now she has the additional tactical and technical skills as part of her repertoire.



“It is fun for me, especially because I get to play more of an attacking midfield role and I get to receive the ball a lot more,” said Matheson. “I get to score a few more goals, too.”



In 2010, she scored more goals – five – than she had in her previous seven seasons with the team. Two of her more memorable goals came in March and September: she scored the championship-winning goal of the 2010 Cyprus Women’s Cup (a 1:0 win over New Zealand) and the opening goal of a 3:1 victory over China PR in front of friends and family in Toronto.



In December, she finished runner-up in voting for the 2010 Canadian Player of the Year award.



Matheson helped Canada set a team record with 13 wins in 2010. The team’s record of 13-3-2 was an improvement on the team’s previous best record of 13-3-5 in 2003. Already in 2011, Matheson has helped Canada to another 10 wins, marking the first time Canada has posted back-to-back seasons with 10 or more wins.



The improvements have come just in time as Canada advances into the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011. Canada will open the tournament against the two-time defending champion Germany.



“I am expecting a very exciting opening match,” said Matheson. “There should be a great atmosphere. It should also be a great tournament because the (hosts) do an amazing job.”



What about Canada’s hopes for the tournament? Matheson said the players just want “to fulfill our potential.”



Since last year, Canada’s women’s program has taken off. After an initial year of transition, the players started to see results from all the hard work they had put in. If all goes according to plan, the players should peak at their best when the FIFA Women’s World Cup opens on 26 June.



“We have a much better environment than probably other teams that don’t spend as much time together,” said Matheson. “Our entire staff is also unbelievable and so organized, so they make it very easy for us to just go out and train.”



Matheson said the training has been very “soccer specific.” To no surprise, she agreed that not only the style of play, but also the methodology of training has made her and her teammates better players.



“We are leaner soccer players now,” said Matheson. “I know that it has made me quicker because it has made me faster. I think it has done the same for all our players.”

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