Created on Thursday, 30 January 2014 Written by STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer
FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Sydney Leroux gets emotional each time the U.S. women play Canada.
There was that incredible comeback victory in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics before the U.S. team won its fourth gold medal. Then in Toronto last summer, Canadian-born American citizen Leroux got booed after scoring a goal in stoppage time of a 3-0 victory and then popping the team logo on her jersey.
Leroux, Abby Wambach and the top-ranked Americans open their 2014 season against Canada on Friday night at the home stadium of FC Dallas.
"We're super excited. For me, it's a little different, our first game in 2014 is against Canada and is in the United States, which is awesome," Leroux said. "It's obviously emotional for me, but in a good way. ... I love to play them, and especially what happened there, and now the fact that we get to play them on our turf is like really, really cool."
The Americans have a 77-game unbeaten home streak (67-0-10) since their last loss in the United States against Denmark at Philadelphia in November 2004. Overall, they've gone 39 games in a row overall without losing (33-0-6) and outscored opponents 130-29 in that nearly two-year span.
"I don't even think that we ever talk about the fact that we have an unbeaten streak at home," Leroux said. "It's just like we go out every game, and we expect the best out of each other, and we expect to win. ... I've never seen that attitude so strong."
In a year that will end with World Cup qualifying, second-year coach Tom Sermanni's team will start with three matches in a two-week period. After Canada, they play Russia twice — Feb. 8 in Boca Raton, Fla., and four days later in Atlanta. The two teams haven't faced each other since 2002.
"It's good. We need to play more games," said Sermanni, 13-0-3 his first year. "You don't find out things, you can do all you want in training, play 11 vs. 11, do everything possible. Until you actually go out into that arena and play an international game, you don't know what you need to do or what you need to work on, or how your team's going to show up."
Canada, ranked seventh in the world, is led by Christine Sinclair. Second among active international scorers behind Wambach's record 163, Sinclair's 147 career goals are 85 more than the total goals scored combined by the rest of the Canada's roster.
Sinclair scored three goals in that last Olympic meeting, all giving Canada one-goal leads. Wambach scored the last tying goal before Alex Morgan, who is out of this opening three-match stretch still recovering from a left ankle injury, scored the winner in a 4-3 victory.
"She definitely poses a problem for us," Wambach said of Sinclair. "Any time she gets the ball, we all have to be focused and making sure she doesn't get too much space because she'll take advantage of us like she did in the Olympics."
This is the 55th meeting between the border nations, a series the Americans lead 46-3-5.
"I think there will always be something about playing Canada. ... We always have a healthy rivalry going," Wambach said. "I think that (2012 Olympic game) made the rivalry even more intense, emotional."