BURLINGTON, Canada—After a 3-0 victory over Wales on Friday, the Canadian women's national team is back in action this afternoon against England.
If playing the 6th-best team in the world wasn’t hard enough (Canada are just behind in 8th), England will be looking to avenge their 3-1 loss to France on Friday.
A late penalty from Fran Kirby (more on her later) brought the Lionesses within one, and Lauren Hemp could’ve made it 2-2 a few minutes later, but her effort hit the post. France ended up scoring moments later to make it 3-1, and take the victory at Stade Michel d’Ornano.
If the speech after the match by Nikita Parris is anything to go by, England will be inspired to end this international break with a victory.
Bev Priestman's team is certainly up for the fight:
“This is an exciting game for us, a great tier one test which is exactly what we need as we are building towards the Olympic Games,” said Canada Head Coach Bev Priestman in a press release.
“England were semi-finalists at the last two FIFA Women’s World Cups so it will be a great game to see our progression together this year, with the Olympic Games in mind. Every game I’ve ever been involved with of Canada vs England has been an exciting and challenging game for both teams and out of that I’m looking forward to seeing some great performances from this group.”
One question mark for Canada is the status of Christine Sinclair. After leaving in the first half of the match against Wales with an injury, Sinclair's injury may not be as bad as it first looked.
Kickoff for Canada vs England is at 2:15 pm, and the match is available on OneSoccer.
Players To Watch:
Both squads for this clash feature leading players in the FAWSL, NWSL, and other top leagues around the world.
This match falls on the 10th anniversary of the FAWSL’s first-ever game. There are several players in this England squad that can be considered among the best the league has ever seen.
With all that in mind, here are three players from each side to keep an eye on.
Fran Kirby (England)
Fran Kirby has been incredible for Chelsea this season, playing a significant role as The Blues sit at the top of the WSL.
Kirby has cemented herself as one of the best players in the world in 2020/21. In 25 appearances in all competitions this season, she’s scored an impressive 21 goals, including 14 in 16 in the FAWSL. She has also added 10 assists in the league this season.
In her last three matches for club and country, she has four goals, including the aforementioned penalty against France on Friday, and could be a huge problem for Canada’s backline if they aren’t at their best.
Jordyn Huitema (Canada)
If Christine Sinclair’s injury keeps her out of this match, a lot of pressure will be on the shoulders of Jordyn Huitema.
After missing the SheBelieves Cup earlier this year due to travel restrictions, Huitema played 70 minutes against Wales in her first international match in over a year. She was deployed as a left winger, but could play up top for Canada in this one, if Bev Priestman gives her the start over Evelyne Viens or the other forwards in the squad.
In 16 matches this season for PSG, Huitema has four goals. In 34 matches for Canada since making her debut in 2017, Huitema has scored 13 goals, including five in one game last year against Jamaica.
Leah Williamson (England)
Like Fran Kirby, Leah Williamson has sealed her spot as one of the best players in the world over the past few years.
The Arsenal defender is important to everything they do, and her ability to start plays from the back is important for both club and country, especially with England missing captain Steph Houghton through injury.
Williamson has also talked this week about how important these matches ahead of the Olympics, as competition for Great Britain roster spots ramps up. Everyone on both sides will have that bit of extra motivation on Tuesday.
Williamson's centre-back partner for Arsenal, Lotte Wubben-Moy, is also in the squad for this friendly, and replaced Williamson in the France game off the bench.
Wubben-Moy could be on the edge of the Olympic team if Houghton is healthy, but after being nominated for March's FAWSL Player of the Month award, this friendly could be a chance for her to book a ticket to Tokyo, so she's another player to keep an eye out for, if England's interim manager Hege Riise gives her a start.
Ashley Lawrence (Canada)
Huitema's teammate at PSG, Ashley Lawrence has been the central figure of a debate this week: where is her best position for the national team?
Lawrence can play at both full-back positions, and across the midfield — she’s about as versatile as they come. The preference among many is to see her play higher up the pitch, in a midfield triangle with Jessie Fleming and Quinn.
Whether or not Bev Priestman agrees with that idea remains to be seen, but she should certainly consider starting those three in this England game, as it’ll be one of her last chances to try it against top opposition before the Olympic Games this summer.
Closing in on 100 appearances for her country, Lawrence will be as important as anyone to whatever success Canada has in Tokyo, so maximizing her abilities should be one of Priestman’s priorities.
Ellen White (England)
Ellen White has been a consistent goalscorer for years, but has been in great form since the 2019 Women’s World Cup. White was tied for the most goals scored at that tournament, with six goals.
She then moved to Manchester City that summer, and has scored at an impressive rate since, including 12 goals in 29 games this season in all competitions this season.
Looking back on the past 10 years of the FAWSL’s history, White is second all-time in goals, trailing only Vivianne Miedema. Those two have been trading the record back and forth, but White is currently in second. She’s also near the top of the league’s all-time assists leaderboard. Simply, she’s an FAWSL legend.
She was the Lionesses captain for England’s game against France last week, in the absence of her Manchester City teammate Steph Houghton.
White has also scored against Canada before — the only goal in a 1-0 win for England in April 2013.
One goal in this match would see her tie Karen Walker and Fara Williams for third all-time for England, with 40 goals. Two would see her take sole possession of third, and inch closer to Kelly Smith’s record of 46.
If we're going to pick an MVP after Bev Priestman's first four matches in charge, Quinn is certainly a frontrunner, and they showed it again against Wales on Friday.
Canada scored three impressive goals, but the pass from Quinn to Deanne Rose for Canada's first was sensational.
They floated a perfect ball down the pitch, before Rose got on the end of it and placed the ball in the top corner.
As mentioned above with Ashley Lawrence, Quinn is part of the midfield triangle Canada fans are calling for, alongside Jessie Fleming.
Quinn has proven to be more than reliable on both sides of the ball, and will certainly be one of the first names on the roster heading to Tokyo this summer.
Rylee Foster (Liverpool), Stephanie Labbé (FC Rosengård), Erin McLeod (Orlando Pride)
Vanessa Gilles (Bordeaux), Jade Rose (Super REX Ontario), Shelina Zadorsky (Tottenham Hotspur), Lindsay Agnew (North Carolina Courage), Gabrielle Carle (Florida State Seminoles), Allysha Chapman (Houston Dash), Ashley Lawrence (Paris Saint-Germain), Jayde Riviere (Michigan Wolverines)
Samantha Chang (South Carolina Gamecocks), Jessie Fleming (Chelsea), Julia Grosso (Texas Longhorns), Jordyn Listro (Kansas City), Quinn (OL Reign), Sophie Schmidt (Houston Dash), Desiree Scott (Kansas City), Sarah Stratigakis (Michigan Wolverines)
Janine Beckie (Manchester City), Jenna Hellstrom (KIF Örebro), Jordyn Huitema (Paris Saint-Germain), Cloé Lacasse (Benfica), Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash), Deanne Rose (Florida Gators), Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns), Evelyne Viens (NJ/NY Gotham FC)
Sandy MacIver (Everton), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City), Carly Telford (Chelsea), Karen Bardsley (OL Reign)
Esme Morgan (Manchester City), Millie Turner (Manchester United), Niamh Charles (Chelsea), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal), Leah Williamson (Arsenal), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Lucy Bronze (Manchester City)
Ella Toone (Manchester United), Georgia Stanway (Manchester City), Keira Walsh (Manchester City), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Everton)
Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Bethany England (Chelsea), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Nikita Parris (Lyon), Ellen White (Manchester City)