Bev Priestman has named six players in her first squad to coach the Canadian women’s soccer team.
Priestman, 34, who took over the squad in November after Kenneth Heiner-Moller stepped down to take on a coaching job in his native Denmark, has named a 29-player squad for a two-week camp in front of the SheBelieves next month’s trophy in Orlando.
The roster will be reduced to 23 for the four-team tournament scheduled to take place February 18-24 at Exploria Stadium. The Canadian women, who are eighth in the FIFA rankings with Brazil, compete with the best Americans. 10 Japan and Brazil.
Potential debutants include 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 strikers Evelyne Viens (Paris FC).
Rose, who will turn 18 on February 12, has attended two senior camps but has not yet reached an upper limit.
All but Viens worked with Priestman in their previous role as Canadian youth coach. This is the first time Canada Soccer has appointed Viens, a hugely successful goalscorer at the University of South Florida, currently on loan from Sky Blue FC to Paris FC by 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) made her first appearance since returning from injury in 2019.
37-year-old Sinclair goes into the Florida tournament with a world record of 186 international goals.
“The pre-competition camp is designed to give out-of-season players a chance to prepare for the SheBelieves Cup,” Priestman said in a statement.
“It also gives us an opportunity to see where the players stand ahead of our final 23-player roster for the SheBelieves Cup.”
Working with the young generation
Priestman has a good grip on Canada’s young talent. From 2013 to 2018 she helped develop talent for the Canadian Women’s Program and worked as an assistant trainer at John Herdman, with whom she had also worked in New Zealand.
She left to return home in August 2018 and served as Phil Nevilles # 2 with the England women’s team and England youth coach.
Eleven of the players on the Canadian camp roster are currently with teams in Europe, five are in England, five in France and one in Sweden. There are 11 players from the NWSL, five from US colleges, and two from the Super REX Ontario development program.
The Canadian women have not played since March 10, when they drew 2-2 against Brazil in a tournament in France. A Canadian camp planned for England in October was canceled on the advice of medical experts due to the pandemic.
All four teams in the SheBelieves Cup have qualified for the Tokyo Games, with Canada finishing second among the Americans in the CONCACAF Women’s Qualifying Championship last February.
And all four have reached the knockout stage of the 2019 World Cup in France. The US won the tournament while Canada, Brazil and Japan were eliminated in the round of 16.
The defending champion American has won the SheBelieves Cup three times. France won in 2017 and England in 2019.