ALSO ON SLAM!
Thursday, May 4, 2000
Burtini returns to women's team after painful year
Silvana Burtini's legs have taken a beating the last year.
First there was a troublesome hamstring that hampered her at the women's World Cup of soccer last summer. Then there was surgery after a serious knee injury in August playing for the Raleigh Wings in the W-League semifinals.
"It's been a long year, that's for sure," Burtini said with a laugh.
"Ever since I hit 30 it's just been downhill."
But now the veteran striker is back in the Canadian camp, preparing for this weekend's Nike U.S. Women's Cup 2000 in Portland, Ore.
With Charmaine Hooper still recovering from stress fractures, Burtini is the most experienced player coach Even Pellerud has at his disposal. Burtini has represented Canada 44 times, scoring 30 goals.
"It's definitely been great," Burtini said of the new era under Pellerud, who led his native Norway to the World Cup in 1995.
"New faces in the program and it's being handled professionally."
The Canadians open tonight against South Korea prior to the match between U.S. and Mexico. The winners will play for the title Sunday while the losers square off in a consolation final.
If the matches end in a tie, the teams will immediately go to a penalty shootout.
Like her coach, Burtini is hoping for a win and a date with the world champion U.S.
"I enjoy playing the Americans, they're such a talented team. And they're not dirty. They just go out and play the game and they play it hard. It's a good challenge."
Burtini, who turns 31 next Wednesday, has been out for seven months after tearing both the ACL and MCL in her right knee, an injury that also affected her thigh bone.
"It was a bit of a mess," she said.
"It wasn't anything that was dirty," she said of the tackle. "It was just kind an unfortunate thing where I got my leg caught in between one person and another person came in and knocked me. There was just nowhere for my knee to go so it kind of gave out."
The five-foot-seven 145-pounder from Williams Lake, B.C., who now makes her home in Vancouver, estimates she is only about 75 per cent and Pellerud has said he wants to see Burtini in practice before he decides her role.
Burtini, voted Canada's female player of the year in 1998, is no stranger to adversity. She helped Canada qualify for the 1999 World Cup despite being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.
During CONCACAF qualifying in August 1998, she scored a world-record eight goals in Canada's 21-0 win over Puerto Rico despite playing only 45 minutes because of her health.
After the Portland tournament, Burtini will return to Raleigh to rejoin the Wings for the summer season.
Canadian captain Jason deVos says he may skip friendlies against Trinidad and Tobago and Honduras in late May in order to rest for the World Cup qualifiers later in the summer.
DeVos says coach Holger Osieck has left the decision up to him if he needs the break. But the defender from Appin, Ont., says he is leaning towards missing the matches, noting if he doesn't he will only have one week off this year.
Speaking Thursday from Scotland, the Dundee United skipper said a busy schedule has taken its toll this year. He has made five transatlantic trips so far, treks that usually start with a 4 a.m. departure from his hours, a 6 a.m. flight from Edinburgh to London and a 9 or 10 a.m. flight to North America.
Despite the wear and tear, DeVos says he is committed to Canada's bid to qualify for the 2002 World Cup. But he acknowledges that the time away from his club has cost him, with several big clubs shying away from him because of his international commitments.
In Europe, leagues shut down to free up players for international duties. But players like deVos are forced to miss club matches because CONCACAF often runs on a different schedule.
FIFA is trying to get round the problem by instituting a worldwide soccer calendar.
Notes: Canadian Jason Bent was sent off in Colorado's 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire on Wednesday night for a dangerous tackle ... Canadians Dwayne DeRosario (Richmond) and David DiPlacido (Toronto) have been named to the A-League team of the week.