Canada is a team that tends to go into the Women’s World Cups with high expectations from both themselves and the fans. But they also tend to underperform by several degrees, followed by a rebound next year in the Olympic Games. They have progressed from the group in the last two World Cups, but were knocked out when the rubber hit the road in the round of 16. Their best result was fourth overall in 2003, after losing 2-1 to Sweden in the semi-finals. The worst was, of course, their disastrous 2011 campaign in which they finished last out of 16 teams, compounded by off-field issues with head coach Carolina Morace.
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Bev Priestman has been a pretty steady hand in command since she was named in October 2020. While she seems to have taken a page out of former head coach John Herdman’s book on mental motivation, this clearly feels like her team in terms of play. . style.
Canada usually sets up in a 4-2-3-1, although they can go to 4-4-1-1 with someone like christina sinclair retired behind a No 9. Most recently against France, they looked like a 4-3-3.
three key players
Starting with the obvious, Sinclair is a major presence for Canada even if, at age 40, he’s not playing the full 90 minutes. jessie fleming She will likely have to take on a fair amount of work in midfield as she is the player likely to drag Canada to a result through her pace and vision. Goalie kailen sheridan he will also need to be enormous both through his shot-stopping ability and his distribution from behind, which has become one of his great strengths in club play. Sheridan could be especially key given Canada’s tendency to go all-in on defense.
Defenders Gaby Carle and Bianca St-Georges were left off the list despite looking good and getting plenty of minutes with their clubs. Forward Janine Beckie is out with an ACL knee injury.
This is a very experienced roster and many players coming off of Canada’s Olympic gold medal win in Tokyo two years ago. They have a tight leadership group between Sinclair, Sophie Schmidt, Desiree Scott and Quinn. They also have a nice defensive triangle setup between Sheridan and middles Vanessa Gilles and Kadeisha Buchanan.
On the field, it’s injuries, injuries, injuries.
Much of the backbone that keeps the Canadian midfield metronome going, Scott has been recovering from a knee injury since January and hasn’t played anything with it. NWSL club, the Kansas City Current. Buchanan has had limited minutes in May after recovering from an injury that kept her out of the friendly against France in April.
But there is also additional problems off the field who have impacted this team and can continue to do so throughout the tournament.
Canada Soccer, as the governing body, is struggling to earn revenue and this led the women’s team to publicly protest “significant budget cuts” to their program for this World Cup and request that they receive the same financial support that the men had in their competition version last year. The players have been preparing on essentially two fronts: to face other teams in the tournament in Australia and New Zealand, and to face their own federation, with Schmidt testifying in front of parliament in March that “Canada Soccer treats women’s soccer as an afterthought.”
Evelyne Viens is an underrated striker who has been scoring at a steady pace with Swedish club Kristianstad. Priestman used her as a substitute during the SheBelieves tournament in February and Viens could be a useful weapon late in games, particularly from set pieces.
Canada advanced through CONCACAF qualifying in Mexico last summer, finishing first in their group with three wins out of three. Recent form is hard to judge given how much is happening off the field with his federation, a situation that has undoubtedly affected his preparation for the tournament.
Canada is in Group B with Australia, the Republic of Ireland and Nigeria. All three can be tricky to deal with, and it’s always difficult to get stuck in a group with a host nation, which will have all the benefits of home field advantage. Canada will have to fight for every point.
Canada gets the long flight to Perth for their second game in the pool, bouncing from east to west for one of the toughest pool schedules. But at least after that, if they do break out of the group, they’ll have a relatively short jump from Melbourne, whether they finish first or second. They would also have a massive six-day rest period before any round of 16 tie.
To win the World Cup, they will need…
As much as this team has relied on Sinclair in the past, this is the tournament where they really need younger players like Fleming, Jordyn Huitema, Julia Grosso, Jade Rose and Jayde Riviere to get to the next level.
did you know
Sinclair’s first international cap came on March 12, 2000 at age 16. His teammates Riviere, Jade Rose, Grosso, Simi Awujo and Huitema were not yet born.
(Top photo: Getty Images; Design: Eamonn Dalton)