International women’s friendly Canada vs. Wales April 9, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. ET Leckwith Stadium in Cardiff, Wales Watch Live: OneSoccer’s YouTube Channel


The Canadian women’s team is entering the home stretch, and it doesn’t have much time or many more opportunities to get ready for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. That’s why Canada’s friendly vs. Wales on Friday in Cardiff, and next Tuesday’s tilt against England in Stoke-on-Trent, are vital for the team’s Olympic preparations. England, No. 6 in the current FIFA world rankings, should prove to be a stern test for Canada (No. 8, tied with Brazil). Wales is No. 31 in the world rankings, tied with Argentina and Ireland, and is a bit of a wild card, as they just hired a new coach (more on that later). Canada played the United States, Argentina and Brazil at the SheBelieves Cup in February down in Florida, as the Reds went 1-0-2 at the invitational tournament in Bev Priestman’s debut as coach. Canada managed just one goal in the competition, so Priestman will be looking for Canadian attackers to show more poise and finishing skills in these two games. A number of marquee players missed the SheBelieves Cup, including Christine Sinclair and Ashley Lawrence, who are now back in the Canadian team for these friendlies. Also, forward Cloé Lacasse of Benfica has earned her first national team call-up. Uncapped Liverpool goalkeeper Rylee Foster, who did not see action in the SheBelieves Cup, was also called up. This Canadian roster includes four players who debuted at the SheBelieves Cup: defender Jade Rose, midfielders Jordyn Listro and Samantha Chang, and striker Evelyne Viens. Canada Soccer said the following players were not available for selection due to medical reasons: defenders Kadeisha Buchanan and Bianca St-Georges, midfielder Diana Matheson, forward Adriana Leon, and goalkeepers Kailen Sheridan and Sabrina D’Angelo. Priestman expects all of these injured players to be available for the Olympics.

RELATED READING: CanWNT names roster for matches vs. Wales and England


4 THINGS TO KNOW

  • Christine Sinclair is back for Canada: Christine Sinclair was named to coach Bev Priestman’s roster for this pair of upcoming friendlies, which will mark her first games for the women’s team in 2021. Sinclair is the all-time leading scorer in international soccer (for both men and women) with 186 goals. The prolific forward is also Canada’s all-time caps leader with 296. But Sinclair did not join the Canadian team in Florida in February for the SheBelieves Cup because of an injury. Previously, Sinclair had missed just three Canadian camps since 2007. Her last appearance for Canada came on March 10, 2020 in a 2-2 draw against Brazil at the Tournoi de France. Goals were hard to come by in Florida, as Canada scored just one time. Having Sinclair back should help to spark the Canadian attack in these friendlies, but Priestman insists the team can’t simply rely on its captain for offence. “We can’t all assume that Christine is back and all of a sudden Canada is going to solve the problem of putting the ball in the back of the net,” Priestman told reporters.
  • Ashley Lawrence is back, too: Also named to this Canadian roster are fullback Ashley Lawrence, goalkeeper Erin McLeod, and forward Jordyn Huitema. Lawrence missed the SheBelieves Cup because she wasn’t released by her pro club, Paris Saint-Germain. Voted Canadian player of the year in 2019, Lawrence has seven goals and nine assists in 91 appearances (71 starts) for Canada, she can play at the back and in midfield, and is considered a lock for the Olympic roster. Lawrence last played for Canada in the match vs. Brazil at last year’s Tournoi de France. Needless to say she’s happy to be back in camp and is itching to play for Canada again after missing the SheBelieves Cup. “For me personally, it’s been more than a year (away from) the team, so it’s nice to catch up, see players that I hadn’t seen in a long time and even some new faces, and also get acquainted with the new coaching staff,” Lawrence told reporters.
  • Olympic roster spots up for grabs: Olympic teams are limited to 18 players (it’s 23 for the World Cup), so the competition for roster spots is fierce, and a good showing in these two games could elevate a player’s stock. You have to think that players such as Sinclair and Lawrence are guaranteed starters for Canada in Tokyo. With the Olympics looming, Priestman revealed she won’t experiment too much with her line-ups in these friendlies, as she’ll be looking to build up the team’s chemistry ahead of the team’s trip to Japan. “We haven’t got much time, so every session and every game now right up until the Olympics is really important. Yes, there’s players that maybe I haven’t seen and might need to see, but I think it’s going to be definitely (geared) more towards trying to get some core players together on the pitch more often,” Priestman said. At the same time, there are spots up for grabs on this team. "There's absolutely no spot guaranteed. And I want to keep it like that right up to the Olympics Games," Priestman said. "For me it's a blank canvas in terms of seeing this group and it's there for the taking. That's the message.
  • Debut for Wales coach: Friday marks Gemma Grainger’s first match in charge of Wales. Grainger, a 38-year-old from England, was hired earlier this month after previous coach Jayne Ludlow stepped down in January. Grainger was a member of England’s coaching staff at Euro 2017, where the team reached the semifinals. She previously managed at club level with Leeds United and Middlesbrough.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

"We definitely created chances (at the SheBelieves Cup), and were in much better positions than historically against those teams over the past couple of years. But ultimately it is about putting that ball in the back of the net. And I think that's the hard truth that this group is working towards." - Canadian coach Bev Priestman "It’s pretty cool to see a different group. There’s been a lot of new players in (the team)… It’s a very healthy, competitive environment, so from Day 1 (in this camp) I’ve been pushed and hopefully I’m pushing others around me. Having that balance of veterans and some new blood, overall I think that’s really good for Canada." - Canadian midfielder Ashley Lawrence
ALL-TIME SERIES Canada wins: 1 || Wales wins: 0 || Draws: 0

PREVIOUS MEETING March 3, 2002: Canada 4, Wales o

Canada and Wales have met just once before, in a 2002 clash at the Algarve Cup in Portugal. On that occasion, Canada won 4-0, with a pair of goals coming from a then-teenaged Christine Sinclair. Her second goal of the game, the 23rd of her career, came off a bad clearance by the Welsh defence. Kara Lang also scored a brace for Canada, while goalkeeper Erin McLeod earned her first international cap and her first shutout with senior side.
Continue reading...