As Canada nears the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the national team players are heating up in the NWSL and across Europe.
While many women’s national team players are set to join the Canadian camp ahead of an April 11 friendly against France, the labour issues around Canada Soccer loom large, as do injury concerns to star players.
Still, several Canadians are thriving with their clubs.
Although players threatened to not report to the camp due to the current labour situation in February, head coach Bev Priestman understands that the game will go ahead.
“My understanding and my hope is the game will go ahead,” she said. “I have prepared it to go ahead.”
Veterans in stellar form in NWSL
Through two weeks of NWSL play, Canadian veterans Christine Sinclair and Sophie Schmidt have been among the best. This weekend, Sinclair’s Portland Thorns handed a 4-1 defeat to the Kansas City Current, with Sinclair playing an integral role as an attacking midfielder.
While Sinclair was held off the scoresheet, she provided three key passes into the final third, the highest-scoring areas of the pitch, and won four tackles through 77 minutes of play.
For a Thorns team coached by former Canadian women’s national team goalkeeper coach Mike Norris, the veteran’s leadership has been critical as part of their early season success.
Calling today: Sinc Moves Sunday 😎<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/BAONPDX?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#BAONPDX</a> <a href=”https://t.co/5vo9aFd4J4″>pic.twitter.com/5vo9aFd4J4</a>
Portland has won their opening two games, with Sinclair providing an assist in a less offensive role than her past.
Janine Beckie, also on the Thorns, underwent successful ACL surgery earlier in the week.
Step one ☑️<br><br>Massive thank you to the incredible Dr. Harlen Selesnick & his amazing surgical staff for a very smooth, comfortable experience!<br><br>Ready to get after this rehab 💪🏼🏻 <a href=”https://t.co/3ATsSedFoF”>pic.twitter.com/3ATsSedFoF</a>
The Houston Dash, the most-Canadian team in the NWSL, picked up their first victory of the season on Saturday, as Sophie Schmidt and Allysha Chapman played in the 2-1 win over Bianca St-Georges’s Chicago Red Stars.
Schmidt, a native of Winnipeg, and Oshawa’s Allysha Chapman played the whole match, with the former regaining possession 23 times for the Dash, who picked up their first win of 2023. Meanwhile, St-Georges did not feature due to concussion protocol.
WATCH | Chapman maintains Houston’s lead with astounding save:
With Seattle’s OL Reign, Jordyn Huitema of Chilliwack, B.C., played 87 minutes in a 2-0 win over NY/NJ Gotham, while Newmarket, Ont.’s Victoria Pickett played the final 32 minutes for Gotham.
Quinn was out of the Reign lineup with a leg injury.
Canada’s first-choice goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan maintained her strong form, making two saves as the San Diego Wave picked up their second straight win to open the season, defeating the North Carolina Courage 3-1. Canadian-American dual international Sydney Collins made her pro debut, playing the final eight minutes for North Carolina.
Meanwhile, defender Gabrielle Carle earned a second start with the Washington Spirit in their 2-2 draw with Racing Louisville.
Off the pitch, 18-year-old forward Amanda Allen looks to be signing an NWSL contract after signing with an agency and leaving Syracuse University.
After two weeks of 2023’s NWSL season, Sinclair, Huitema, Quinn, Schmidt, Carle, St-Georges, Collins and Chapman all move on to Canada’s national team camp.
Canadians thriving in UWCL, European leagues
While the North American-based players are still getting up to speed, Canada’s national team members in Europe are reaching the pinnacle of their seasons.
Chelsea’s Jessie Fleming and Kadeisha Buchanan are off to the UEFA Women’s Champions League semifinals after eliminating Vanessa Gilles’s Lyon in a penalty shootout in the quarterfinals.
Chelsea won the opening match 1-0, and Lyon won the second leg 2-1. After that, however, the penalty kicks fell in favour of the London-based club.
Fleming scored in the shootout, while Buchanan played the entire 120 minutes of the second leg but didn’t get a chance to take a penalty kick. Gilles scored in the second leg but won’t advance in the Champions League.
Jessie Fleming has ice in her veins 🥶 <br><br>The Canadian helps see <a href=”https://twitter.com/ChelseaFCW?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@ChelseaFCW</a> through to the semi finals of the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/UWCL?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#UWCL</a> where they’ll face <a href=”https://twitter.com/FCBfemeni?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@FCBfemeni</a>.<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/CanWNT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#CanWNT</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/CanXNT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#CanXNT</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/footy_prime?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@footy_prime</a> <br><br> <a href=”https://t.co/KMIjPZGgh2″>pic.twitter.com/KMIjPZGgh2</a>
With the summer’s World Cup looming, the upcoming Canadian camp is critical for the coaching staff to get a good indication of where the currently available players are as they attempt to cut the group down to the 23-player roster that will head to the tournament in July.
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