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Olympic tune-up: Canadian women have a pair of games to decide roster for Tokyo 2021

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Head coach Bev Priestman will oversee players making their final cases for roster selection.

Wales v Canada - Women’s International Friendly - Leckwith Stadium Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

A large squad of 29 players will be vying for a spot on the Canadian women’s national team Olympic roster when Canada plays a pair of friendlies in the next week.

Head coach Bev Priestman will have many names to choose from when her team takes on Czech Republic on June 11 (11 am ET) and Brazil on June 14 (3 pm ET) in Cartagena, Spain. Both matches will take place at Estadio Cartagonova and will be broadcast live on OneSoccer

There is a healthy blend of experience and youth in the squad, with nine players aged 23 or younger.


Newcomers

One of the 23 year olds is Chicago Red Stars defender Bianca St-Georges, who missed out during February’s SheBelieves Cup in Orlando after picking up a knee injury in pre-tournament training. While St-Georges has not played for club or country since the injury, she insists she’s ready to play.

2020 NWSL Challenge Cup - Championship - Houston Dash v Chicago Red Stars
Bianca St-Georges (right) joins NWSL opponent Nichelle Prince in Canada’s camp.
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Another player possibly making her debut is Cloé Lacasse of Benfica. Iceland and Canada have both been vying for the striker’s support. Lacasse, 27, has been in great form in her time in Portugal.

The Squad

This is a strong roster for Canada, with the only notable omission being 2012 Olympic hero Diana Matheson. There is strength at all positions, and the team will have reason to believe after wins against Wales and England that they can come away victorious from these fixtures too.

Goalkeepers

Four keepers are in camp, with several strong cases to be made for who should be starting between the sticks. Erin McLeod has 118 caps to her name and has been there on numerous occasions for Canada, while Stephanie Labbe has been the number one choice in recent games. Kailen Sheridan appears to be the heir apparent, with McLeod, 38, and Labbe, 34, not getting any younger. Experienced keeper Sabrina D’Angelo is also on the roster, and will be vying for one of the Olympic spots.

Defence

Star player Kadeisha Buchanan returns after being unable to join the team for recent call-ups due to COVID-19. Ashley Lawrence is coming off of a French league title. Allysha Chapman and Shelina Zadorsky provide veteran voices and presence. Vanessa Gilles will look to build on a strong spring, and younger players like St-Georges, Jade Rose, Jayde Riviere, and Gabrielle Carle will also aim to impress.

Midfield

Quinn, Jessie Fleming, Sophie Schmidt and Desiree Scott will be the veteran presence. Despite Fleming being just 23, her 82 caps and recent run to a Champions League final has her cemented in the squad for the foreseeable future. Sarah Stratigakis scored the winner against Argentina in February, and will look to build on that, with Jordyn Listro and Julia Grosso also gettin better and better. Victoria Pickett was also a late call-up to this squad.

England Women v Canada Women: International Match Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Attackers

There are a combined 274 international goals between the eight attackers in camp. The list of threats is a long one:

  • Janine Beckie
  • Deanne Rose
  • Cloe Lacasse
  • Adriana Leon
  • Nichelle Prince
  • Evelyne Viens
  • Jordyn Huitema

But there can be only one...

GOAT

297 caps. 186 goals. ‘Nuff said.

The opposition

The Canadian have never faced the 27th ranked Czechs before, while Canada has won two, lost two and drawn one against 7th ranked Brazil in the last five contests between the two teams. Canada most recently played Brazil at the 2021 SheBelieves Cup in February 2021, which ended up in a 2:0 win for Brazil.

Words from Bev

“When you look back at our April camp, we had two great results, two clean sheets and we scored goals. We want to keep that momentum heading into a major tournament, while balancing that with seeing players to support the difficult decisions I have ahead of me regarding the roster selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” said Bev Priestman, Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team Head Coach in a press release. “These back-to-back matches will also represent what the Olympic Games will give us, with the tight turnaround, the different styles of opponents and the heat.”

“I think that we can’t underestimate Czech Republic, they are definitely a good side, they are more direct, and will be different than what we might face in the Brazil match,” added Priestman. “We know what to expect from Brazil. I think that when we faced them at the SheBelieves Cup, it wasn’t a true reflection of this group, so I’m excited to test us in a game where we should be fresher and we got the roster available to us.”

Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team is scheduled to face host Japan, Great Britain and Chile in the group phase of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament this summer.