The holidays are in full swing, and Canada's national teams are hoping for some good fortune in 2013. We've snuck a peek at their wishlists and have a selection of them for you.Millions of wide-eyed kids are diving under the family tree this morning in hopes that Santa Claus came to their town.
For Canada's national teams, they'll be hoping that jolly old St. Nick left them some gifts that will help improve upon a rollercoaster 2012. Let's have a look at what we think was high on the wishlists of the two main national sides:
1. A new coach
The Canadian Soccer Association has admitted that it is taking its time in finding a replacement for Stephen Hart, who had steered the ship for the men since 2007 (besides a stint as assistant during an ill-advised reign for Dale Mitchell in 2008).
The CSA will likely hire an interim to head the upcoming January friendlies in the United States, and it has said that its willing to wait until next summer's Gold Cup in order to get the right person for the job.
Whenever he's hired, Canada's next men's national team coach needs to be familiar with CONCACAF, and must also be willing to take on the daunting project of ushering in a new generation of players to lead the country forward.
2. A good Gold Cup showing
Speaking of CONCACAF's premier tournament, Canada needs to make a positive impression at next summer's Gold Cup in order to retain some of the goodwill and momentum that have been halted by October's awful 8-1 loss to Honduras.
No, a good showing at the regional championship is not a substitute for success in World Cup qualifying, but it would go a long way towards getting the bad taste out of the collective mouths of Canadian soccer fans, especially if it comes from a young, hungry squad.
3. An active schedule
In years past, Canada has never taken full advantage of FIFA's international calendar, with the team missing out on valuable time together.
With the side out of the World Cup picture for at least another three years, it cannot afford to play only some friendlies in the lead-up to qualifying for Russia 2018, but instead it needs to make it a priority to utilize the overwhelming majority of the time set aside for national team camps and matches.
Cohesion has always been a problem for a national team that has players scattered all over the globe, and thankfully there are signs - the upcoming pair of friendlies in January, for example - that it is being addressed.
1. Keep the momentum going
Canada's national women's team has arguably been the sports story of 2012 in this country, and despite the side going into a bit of a hibernation since bursting onto the public consciousness at the London Olympics, Christine Sinclair and company still have mainstream appeal.
The women need to keep their "it" factor up, and to do so the team needs to be seen a lot in 2013. As host of the upcoming 2015 Women's World Cup, Canada has a unique opportunity to grow the women's game from an unusually high starting point, so a nation-wide tour to keep those little girls screaming for their heroes in red would likely mean box office gold.
2. A stable place to play
While the national team has never been on stronger footing, the professional women's game is embarking on another chapter in its quest for acceptance in the North American sporting marketplace.
The National Women's Soccer League will kick off in the U.S. in April, this time with the three North American federations involved as direct stakeholders. The CSA will fund 16 players, which should help the top level stars maintain the sharpness and fitness required to perform on the world stage.
While the future seems rosy, the reality is that the NWSL is the third iteration of top tier women's pro soccer in the U.S., with both previous attempts sputtering out after great starts. If the new league can survive past the honeymoon period, it will truly be the gift that keeps on giving.
3. More Christine Sinclairs
While she's not going anywhere any time soon, Christine Sinclair will turn 30 in 2013 and will have more good years behind her than ahead.
There's no doubt that the B.C. native is the best player to ever play for Canada's women's national team, and when she retires she'll be in the conversation for the best ever regardless of nationality. She is without a doubt the crown jewel of the women's side, and it may be impossible to replace her.
That said, Canada must find a way to develop more world class talent if it wants to remain a medal contender in years to come. No, they don't have to be as good as Sinclair - very few in the world are - but unless Canada can find a way to replace her considerable production, there will be a huge drop off in success for a team that has just started to taste it.