Newly-installed Canadian women’s coach Bev Priestman is hitting the ground running. On Monday, Priestman unveiled her first roster since being hired last October, naming a 29-player squad for a training camp ahead of the 2021 SheBelieves Cup that is scheduled from February 18 to 24. Following this two-week preparation camp, Priestman will announce her final 23-player roster for the SheBelieves Cup prior to Canada’s opening match at the invitational tournament. There are plenty of familiar names to be found on Priestman’s squad, including iconic captain Christine Sinclair (296 caps), veteran midfielders Diana Matheson (206) and Sophie Schmidt (199), and defender Kadeisha Buchanan (103), the reigning Canadian player of the year. Should she play at the 2021 SheBelieves Cup, Schmidt will become just the third member of the Canadian team’s "200 cap club," joining Sinclair and Matheson. Midfielder Desiree Scott, who is fifth all-time in caps (156) behind retired Rhian Wilkinson (181), is next in line to reach 200. Also back in this Canadian squad is veteran goalkeeper Erin McLeod (118 caps), who earns her first call-up since returning from injury in 2019. But the roster also includes five newcomers earning their first national team call-ups, most notably Bianca St. Georges, a 23-year-old defender from Quebec who plays for the Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL. The others first-timers are Evelyne Viens (Sky Blue FC), Jordyn Listro (Orlando Pride), Rylee Foster (Liverpool FC) and Samantha Chang (University of South Carolina). Jade Rose, voted 2020 Canadian Youth International Player of the Year, is also in this squad -- she's been called up before by the senior women's team, but hasn't earned her first cap. Chang previously played for Priestman when she coached Canada's under-15 and under-17 teams. "Been dreaming and working toward this call up ever since I was a kid. I’m incredibly honoured and cannot wait to get into camp and wear the badge again!!!," Chang posted on her Twitter account.
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This will be Canada’s first appearance in the SheBelieves Cup, which will take place at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida. This year marks the sixth time the SheBelieves Cup has been held, and will see Canada play host nation the United States, as well as Brazil and Japan. The Canadian side will kick off the competition against the U.S., currently first in the FIFA World Rankings, on February 18. Following that opener, they’ll take on 10th-ranked Japan on February 21, followed by eighth-ranked Brazil on February 24. Canada is ninth in the World Rankings. None of the opponents are new to Canada, of course. The Reds played the U.S. in last year’s Concacaf Olympic Qualifying final, losing 3-0. The Canadians lost 4-0 to Japan in October 2019, and they played Brazil in their most recent match last Spring, a thrilling 2-2 draw in which Canada came back from being down 2-0. With games against such strong nations — all of whom will be in Tokyo this summer — the SheBelieves Cup should serve as a very competitive beginning to this new era of the Canadian women’s program under Priestman, while also providing the team with vital preparation for the Olympics. Priestman, a 34-year-old native of England, was named the new coach of the Canadian women’s team on Oct. 28, 2020, taking over from predecessor Kenneth Heiner-Møller who stepped down last summer. The SheBelieves Cup marks Canada’s return to action for the first time in close to a year, as the team has been idle since competing at the Tournoi de France last March.
CANADA’S ROSTERGoalkeepers: Rylee Foster (Liverpool FC), Stephanie Labbé (Rosengård), Erin McLeod (Orlando Pride), Kailen Sheridan (Sky Blue FC). Defenders: Kadeisha Buchanan (FCF Olympique Lyonnais), Vanessa Gilles (FC Girondins de Bordeaux), Jade Rose (Super REX Ontario), Shelina Zadorsky (Tottenham Hotspur), Gabrielle Carle (Florida State University), Allysha Chapman (Houston Dash), Ashley Lawrence (Paris Saint-Germain), Bianca St-Georges (Chicago Red Stars), Jayde Riviere (University of Michigan). Midfielders: Samantha Chang (University of South Carolina), Jessie Fleming (Chelsea FC), Julia Grosso (University of Texas at Austin), Jordyn Listro (Orlando Pride), Diana Matheson (Kansas City NWSL) Quinn (OL Reign FC), Sophie Schmidt (Houston Dash), Desiree Scott (Kansas City NWSL). Forwards: Janine Beckie (Manchester City FC), Jordyn Huitema (Paris Saint-Germain), Adriana Leon (West Ham United FC), Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash), Deanne Rose (University of Florida), Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns FC), Olivia Smith (Super REX Ontario), Evelyne Viens (Sky Blue FC).