The United States aren’t the only side out of North America with Olympic Gold aspirations at this year’s Olympic Games. Canada, under new coach Bev Priestmann, will be looking for their first-ever gold medal in the Summer Games. But what will their lineup look like. Here is how the roster is shaping up ahead of Tokyo.
Goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe (FC Rosengard)
Labbe is still the favorite to land the starting spot in Tokyo thanks to her continued solid form between the posts. While Kailen Sheridan of Sky Blue FC is making progress toward that starting spot, it is Labbe’s to lose.
Leftback Ashley Lawrence (Paris St. Germain)
One of Canada’s strengths through the years has been their ability to create opportunities off of the counter-attack. Priestman will likely want to use Lawrence in this role as her quick decision-making and excellent field vision are perfect assets for their style of play. She can also whip in some exceptional crosses for attackers, which will be necessary against more technical sides.
Centerback Kadeisha Buchanan (Lyon)
Buchanan has come into her own with Olympique this season, making 14 starts with one of the top defenses in the world. Her ability to box out defenders and create quick opportunities on the counter-attack will make her an invaluable part of Priestmann’s backline. Keep an eye on her for set pieces as well as she has scored three goal for Lyon this season. Canada’s captain should have an incredible tournament.
Centerback Shelina Zadorsky (Tottenham Hotspur)
Zadorsky has had a bit of an injury issue this season for Spurs but she seems to be back to full health which is great news for CANWNT. Alongside Buchanan, she has formed one of the top 1-2 centerback combinations in football using her strength and aerial prowess to combine well with her partner. Assuming she is can maintain her form, she should have an excellent tournament.
Rightback Allysha Chapman (Houston Dash)
One of the mainstays of CANWNT over the last few cycles, Chapman has become one of the top defenders in women’s football. For both club and country, she has shown incredible tactical awareness and an excellent sense of positioning. At 32, she still has plenty in the tank and will be a force down the right flank. Also, keep on Jayde Riviere (University of Michigan) who has impressed in her time with CANWNT and is just 20 years old.
Defensive Midfielder Sophie Schmidt (Houston Dash)
As a new manager, Priestman will likely be leaning on veteran guidance to help her as she gets adjusted to the players. With 199 caps, there aren’t many players who have more experience than Schmidt who still has the speed to break down defenses and can track back to contain counter-attacks.
Center Midfielder Jessie Fleming (Chelsea)
In just her first professional season, Fleming has become an integral figure in Chelsea’s midfield, keeping the side at the top of the table. As a center midfielder, she can pinpoint passes to attackers with relative ease and has made the club one of the top scoring sides in the FA Women’s Super League. Despite her 77 caps she just turned 22 and seems to really be finding her shot when she goes into the attacking third. That’s good news for Canadian supporters and bad news for their opponents.
Center Midfielder Diana Matheson (KC NWSL)
Much like Zadorsky, Matheson has been battling a rash of injuries over the last few seasons hurting her playing time for Canada (She actually missed the entire 2019 World Cup due to a foot injury). But her injury woes seem to be behind, as evidenced by her strong form with Utah Royals FC last season. Matheson likes to get into the attack and can deliver killer strikes when getting into the box. Having that second gear is a critical asset in women’s football and Matheson can still deliver, when needed.
Left Midfielder Janine Beckie (Manchester City)
A forward by trade, Beckie plays out on the left for Canada which allows her to use her speed and expert dribbling ability to create attacking chances. In her 77 appearances for the National Team she has 31 goals mostly from either the left or right flank or from distance. She is certainly a weapon on the outside and will punish defenses that leave her open.
Right Midfielder Desiree Scott (KC NWSL)
Canada has struggled to find a right midfielder over the last couple of years who can both get back on defense but can create attacking chances when needed. Although Scott has mostly played center mid in her career she is both tactical defender and can create attacking opportunities, when needed. Priestman will likely lean on the veterans during the Olympics so putting Scott in at right mid makes sense.
Center Forward Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns)
The all-time leading goalscorer hasn’t slowed down one bit despite having made a staggering 296 appearances for Canada. Her drive to be the best continues to make her one of the best players in women’s football and an asset for the game as it continues to grow. The question is now: Can she lead her side to a major trophy? If she can continue to produce at a high level and also find other ways to make her teammates better then the answer may be yes.