Canada coach Priestman’s 1st roster includes 6 uncapped women’s soccer players

Bev Priestman has named six uncapped players in her first roster as coach of the Canadian women’s soccer team.

The 34-year-old Priestman, who took over the squad in November after Kenneth Heiner-Moller stepped down to take a coaching job in his native Denmark, has named a 29-player squad for a two-week camp ahead of next month’s SheBelieves Cup in Orlando.

The roster will be reduced to 23 for the four-team tournament, scheduled for Feb. 18-24 at Exploria Stadium The Canadian women, tied for eighth with Brazil in the FIFA rankings, are taking part with the top-ranked U.S., No. 10 Japan and Brazil.

Potential debutantes includes goalkeeper Rylee Foster (Liverpool FC), defenders Bianca St-Georges (Chicago Red Stars) and Jade Rose (Super REX Ontario), midfielders Samantha Chang (University of South Carolina) and Jordyn Listro (Orlando Pride), and forward Evelyne Viens (Paris FC).

Rose, who turns 18 on Feb. 12, has attended two senior camps but has yet to earn a cap.

All but Viens worked with Priestman in her previous role as Canadian youth coach. It’s the first time Canada Soccer has summoned Viens, a prolific goal-scorer at the University of South Florida who is currently on loan to Paris FC from Sky Blue FC of the NWSL.

Veterans include captain Christine Sinclair (296 caps), Diana Matheson (206 caps), Sophie Schmidt (199 caps), and Desiree Scott (157 caps). Goalkeeper Erin McLeod (118 caps) earns her first call-up since returning from injury in 2019.

The 37-year-old Sinclair goes into the Florida tournament with a world-record 186 international goals to her credit.

“The pre-competition camp is designed to provide any players not in season with the chance to get in valuable preparation heading into the SheBelieves Cup,” Priestman said in a statement.

“It also provides us with an opportunity to see where players are ahead of selecting our final 23-player roster for the SheBelieves Cup.”

Working with young generation

Priestman has a good handle on Canada’s young talent. From 2013 to 2018, she helped develop talent for the Canadian women’s program and served as an assistant coach under John Herdman, whom she had also worked with in New Zealand.

She left in August 2018 to return home, serving as Phil Neville’s No. 2 with the English women’s team and English youth coach.

Eleven of the players on the Canadian camp roster are currently with teams in Europe with five playing in England, five in France and one in Sweden. There are 11 players from the NWSL, five from U.S. colleges and two from the developmental Super REX Ontario program.

The Canadian women have not played since March 10, when they wrapped up play at a tournament in France with a 2-2 tie with Brazil. A Canadian camp scheduled for England in October was called off on the advice of medical experts due to the pandemic.

All four teams at the SheBelieves Cup have qualified for the Tokyo Games with Canada finishing runner-up to the Americans at the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship last February.

And all four made the knockout phase of the 2019 World Cup in France. The U.S. won the tournament while Canada, Brazil and Japan were eliminated in the round of 16.

The defending champion Americans have won the SheBelieves Cup three times. France won in 2017 and England in 2019.

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