Canada’s W Gold Cup Roster Revealed
On Wednesday morning, Canadian Women’s National Team head coach Bev Priestman revealed her 23-player squad for the upcoming Concacaf W Gold Cup that begins later this month.
As the first roster in a post-Christine Sinclair world, the team will be looking to claim their winners medal in this inaugural tournament.
Life in A Sinclair-less World
If it hadn’t sunk it before, it should definitely be sinking in now. This new competition of the W Gold Cup will mark the first tournament without Christine Sinclair available for selection since the first few months of the 21st Century. It now relies on the veterans that Sinclair left behind to lead this team to newfound glory and continue to bear the torch of Women’s soccer in Canada.
With the captaincy yet to be officially given to anyone, there are some contenders for it that can use this tournament to try to fill that gap that Christine has left behind.
“There’s obviously some breadcrumbs in terms of where we’ve been looking at with the captaincy and what that looks like,” remarked Priestman in her roster reveal conference.
The popular ‘heir-apparent’ for the captaincy is the new Portland Thorns signing Jessie Fleming, who joins up with Sinclair in club duty. She is primed to have a huge tournament for the national team, especially if given the armband. However, there are others in the roster that could step up to the plate as well, such as Adriana Leon, Kadeisha Buchanan, Ashley Lawrence, and Quinn.
However, Priestman wants to emphasize the role of leadership being a team effort, rather than on one individual’s shoulders who might have to deal with the pressure of following up Sinclair.
“I want to take any pressure away from filling Christine’s shoes,” explained Priestman to media. “I want to put more attention on the group of players with very good experiences, medals around their necks, unique qualities who are all going to contribute to help a leader moving forward”
“I’ve had them external conversation, but I’m super excited to see people step up, and I don’t mean one individual, I mean a group of people”.
Regardless of who will lead Canada into their first match against Guatemala on February 22nd, it will take the whole team to come together to achieve success in the name of their former superstar.
Surprise Omission: Marie-Yasmine Alidou
There are plenty of Canadians who are flying high for their respective clubs in the build up to this tournament. Evelyne Viens has been scoring goals for AS Roma in Italy. Julia Gross has been a rock in the midfield for Juventus as well, and Olivia Smith is arguably one of the most in-form players in recent months in Portugal for Sporting.There is one player that has arguably been in the best form overall, and that is Marie-Yasmine Alidou.
The Montreal, Quebec native has scored 20 goals in 28 matches for Benfica this season, including a stunning brace against European giants FC Barcelona in the Women’s Champions League just a couple weeks back. The attacking midfielder looked like a shoe-in for the squad for this W Gold Cup, but many were shocked to see that Priestman had omitted her most in-form player.
“I think I had an agreement with Mimi that she needs to be assessed in the position that she’s probably playing at club,” clarified Priestman in a media availability. “There iare a lot of players in that front three position, and I think Mimi has been in with us regularly in the midfield and she did a great job, but I think for Mimi now we need to assess her in that position”.
“I mean, she’s pretty close. If we get one injury, she’s in the squad”.
It will be interesting to see how Priestman can try to fit Alidou in this squad in the near future, especially with the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics looming.
Pre-Camp Roster: Some Old Names, Some New
Alongside the roster announcement, Priestman also revealed that there will be a pre-camp for players that have been out of season, running from February 12-18. While many of the players in that pre-camp will stay with the squad for the tournament, there are a few names that stood out outside of the selected roster.
Desiree Scott returns to national team camp, if only to train, for the first time in over a year and a half. Scott required surgery after a nasty knee injury at the end of the 2022 NWSL season and missed the entirety of the 2023 Season for her team, KC Current. She also missed out on the World Cup in Australia last summer due to the same ailment. Many fans will be happy to see her wearing that famous Red jersey – even if its only the training top. Hopefully that means the 186-cap veteran will slowly but surely be fully coming back in national team picture soon.
“Desi [Scott] is going to come in for the pre-camp,” explained Priestman. “For [her], that’s a training opportunity to get immersed in the environments. But… she’s just not tournament ready yet.”
We also saw a new dual-national player appear in the camp, in Megan Reid. The 27-year-old defender plies her trade for Angel City FC in the NWSL. A California-born centre-back, it has not yet been fully revealed what her connection to Canada is, but she could be further depth to a currently thin position in centre-back for the national team.
“Megan has certain qualities that remind me a little bit of Vanessa Gilles,” remarked Priestman about Reid’s inclusion to the pre-camp. “I think for us, you look at the shape we’ve employed and the depth of centre-back positions… it may have a bigger place in where she goes in the future, whether that be between now and the Olympics or beyond that.”
“I believe, I’m not quite sure if its her Mom or Dad, but Ottawa is her Canadian connection”.
It will remain to be seen if she chooses to continue with Canada at the national level, or wait to get the call for the US.
Header Image Photo Credit: John Jacques