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Canada opens SheBelieves Cup vs. United States—Preview, key players & how to watch

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The Canadian women’s national team returns to action for the first time in 345 days, but their first game back is about as tough as it gets. Benedict Rhodes gets you set for Thursday night’s game.

Soccer: CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying-Canada at USA
Canada forward Janine Beckie runs with the ball during the first half of a match against the United States in the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying soccer tournament
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

BURLINGTON, Canada—The Bev Priestman era finally gets underway on Thursday evening, as her Canada side take on the United States in their first match at the 2021 SheBelieves Cup.

It’s a tough start for the former England assistant, as she takes on the reigning World Cup winners and current world No. 1—without several key players. Unavailable due to injury for Canada are Christine Sinclair, Diana Matheson, Erin McLeod, and Bianca St-Georges. To further rub salt in the wound, Kadeisha Buchanan, Ashley Lawrence, and Jordyn Huitema are also not available, as their clubs in France didn’t release them for the tournament.

It’s the first time Christine Sinclair has missed a Canada camp since John Herdman’s first camp in charge a decade ago, according to OneSoccer’s Oliver Platt.

While the injuries aren’t ideal for Canada, they provide a great opportunity for new players to get a chance. There are five uncapped players in the squad: Jade Rose of Super REX Ontario (and the 2020 Canadian Youth International Player of the Year), Evelyne Viens of Paris FC (on loan from Sky Blue FC), Jordyn Listro of the Orlando Pride, Rylee Foster of Liverpool FC, and Samantha Chang of University of South Carolina.

Thursday’s match will be Canada’s first since March 10, 2020, a 2-2 draw with Brazil in the Tournoi de France. The States will also be a bit rusty, having only played twice since last year’s SheBelieves Cup, a pair of friendlies against Columbia in January. They won both convincingly, winning 4-0 on January 18 and following it up with a 6-0 score four days later.

Thursday could also see a long-time Canadian national team midfielder reach a significant milestone. Sophie Schmidt, who made her senior team debut in 2005, is sitting on 199 international appearances and will likely make it 200 at this tournament. She’ll be only the third Canadian ever to reach 200 appearances, joining Christine Sinclair (296) and Diana Matheson (206) in the very exclusive club.

In that span Schmidt has scored 19 goals, so can reach the 20 goal mark as well, which would give her sole possession of 8th all time for Canada.

The match will be available on OneSoccer with coverage starting at 6:30 EST. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 EST. If you are unable to catch the game this evening, a replay of the match will be shown on CBC Saturday at 4 p.m. EST.


Players To Watch

There are a lot of absences from these two rosters, especially for Canada, but there are still several game-changers on either side. Here are two from each team to watch:

Abby Dahlkemper (United States)

American centre-back Abby Dahlkemper joined international teammates Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle at Manchester City in January, and is playing some of the best soccer of her career.

After an impressive NCAA stint with the UCLA Bruins, Dahlkemper has established herself as a regular for club and country. She was in the starting lineup as the United States lifted the 2019 Women’s World Cup and won six trophies during her time in the NWSL the 2016 NWSL Championship with the Western New York Flash, plus two NWSL Championships and three NWSL Shields with the North Carolina Courage. Not to mention the two SheBelieves Cups (2018 and 2020), and the 2017 NWSL Defender of the Year, among (many) other accolades.

All she does is win, and facing her will be a massive challenge for the Canadian attackers on Thursday night, especially without their top two forwards (Sinclair and Huitema).

Arsenal Women v Manchester City Women - Barclays FA Women’s Super League
Abby Dahlkemper of Manchester City rises above Jill Roord of Arsenal during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Arsenal Women and Manchester City Women at Meadow Park on February 07, 2021.
Photo by Manchester City FC/Getty Images

Evelyne Viens (Canada)

Expected to start up top for Canada is uncapped 24-year-old striker Evelyne Viens.

Currently plying her trade with Paris FC in France (on loan from Sky Blue FC), this is a perfect opportunity for Viens to prove she belongs on the national team following a prolific college career.

Viens scored an incredible 73 goals in 77 matches for the University of South Florida, and that success has translated to her professional career thus far. She scored in the NWSL Challenge Cup tournament last summer, and has eight goals in twelve appearances for Paris FC this season.

She’s certainly one to watch in the next few years, and this tournament is her chance to prove that she can be a focal point in the Canada attack.

Fleury 91 v Paris FC - D1 Arkema
Evelyne Viens (#21) of Paris FC chases the ball in a Division 1 Féminine match against FC Fleury 91
Photo by Anthony Dibon/Icon Sport via Getty Images

Catarina Macario (United States)

One of the most exciting prospects in women’s soccer is 21-year-old midfielder Catarina Macario.

She had a sensational career at Stanford University, scoring 63 goals in 68 games, and won the Hermann Trophy, awarded to the best college player, twice.

Macario acquired American citizenship in October (she was born in Brazil), and made her first two senior international appearances in friendlies against Columbia in January. She also scored her first international goal in the second of those two matches. In the process, she became the first naturalized citizen to ever play for the USWNT.

She skipped her final year at Stanford to go pro, and signed with the best women’s team in the world, Olympique Lyonnais Féminin in January. She’s only played one professional match, but if her college career, and the constant praise from people south of the border, is anything to go by, Catarina Macario is a name we’ll be hearing for a long, long time.

FBL-FRA-D1-WOMAN-LYON-PRESSER
Catarina Macario holds her jersey during a press conference to present her as a new signing for Olympique Lyonnais in January
Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP via Getty Images

Jordyn Listro (Canada)

Another uncapped player for Canada, Jordyn Listro will also be hoping to have a big tournament. The 25-year-old Orlando Pride midfielder hasn’t been in a Canada camp at any level since 2012, when she was 17 and played at the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan.

In a brilliant feature story by Laura Armstrong of the Toronto Star, Listro talks about her career thus far and how she was struggling to get noticed by the national team for years. She’s finally getting her shot now after a successful trial for the Orlando Pride and playing a few games in the 2020 NWSL Fall Series. She’s also signed a one-year contract with the Pride for the 2021 season, with an option for 2022.

She’s worked really hard to get to this point, and is more than deserving of a chance with the national team after an impressive college career at the University of South Florida.

Playing alongside the aforementioned Evelyne Viens from 2016-2019 for the Bulls, Listro started for all four years, making 82 appearances in total, setting a school record.

Expect Listro to finally get that long-awaited first senior cap during this tournament, potentially the first of many.

SOCCER: OCT 17 NWSL - North Carolina Courage at Orlando Pride
North Carolina Courage midfielder Debinha (10) and Orlando Pride midfielder Jordyn Listro (19) battle for the ball
Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rosters

Here are the rosters in full:

Canada

GOALKEEPERS: Stephanie Labbé (FC Rosengård), Rylee Foster (Liverpool FC), Kailen Sheridan (Sky Blue FC)

DEFENDERS: Allysha Chapman (Houston Dash), Jade Rose (Unionville Milliken SC), Shelina Zadorsky (Tottenham Hotspur), Quinn (OL Reign), Gabrielle Carle (Florida State Univ.), Jayde Riviere (Univ. of Michigan), Jordyn Listro (Orlando Pride), Lindsay Agnew (NC Courage), Vanessa Gilles (FC Girondins de Bordeaux)

MIDFIELDERS: Julia Grosso (Univ. of Texas), Samantha Chang (Univ. of South Carolina), Sarah Stratigakis (Oakville Blue Devils FC), Desiree Scott (Kansas City NWSL), Sophie Schmidt (Houston Dash), Jessie Fleming (Chelsea)

FORWARDS: Deanne Rose (Univ. of Florida), Evelyne Viens (Paris FC), Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash), Janine Beckie (Manchester City), Adriana Leon (West Ham United)

Soccer: CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying-Canada at USA
Canada starting eleven pose for a team photo prior to the game against the United States during the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying soccer tournament at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

United States

GOALKEEPERS: Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

DEFENDERS: Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Margaret Purce (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)

MIDFIELDERS: Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Jaelin Howell (Florida State), Rose Lavelle (Manchester City), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnais), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash)

FORWARDS: Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Manchester United), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)

Soccer: USA Women’s National Soccer Team Victory Tour-Korea at USA
The United States Women take the field during a USA Women's National Soccer Team Victory Tour between the United States and South Korea at Bank of America Stadium in October 2019
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports