Canada continues preparation for Olympic qualifying

Harjeet Johal January 12, 2016 11
(Photo: Canada Soccer)

The Canadian women’s national team continues preparations for February’s Olympic qualifying tournament with camp in Vancouver. (Photo: Canada Soccer)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – John Herdman has assembled 23 players in Vancouver for the first development camp of the year as Canada looks to solidify a strong roster of 20 players for the Rio Olympic qualifying tournament in Texas next month. Herdman has called in a young squad with a mix of veterans who participated in the Torneio Internacional de Natal in Brazil last month. Camp kicked off on January 9th and will conclude at the end of January.

“Yeah camp’s going well, the young players bring something a little different in terms of their spirit,” Herdman told The Equalizer from Vancouver. “They’ve been part of the program for a number of years—Buchanan, Fleming, Quinny [Rebecca Quinn]—and developing for a number of years. Some of the newer players have had the experience of the Pan Am Games and youth tournaments. It’s now just building the chemistry on the pitch.”

Center backs Kadeisha Buchanan and Rebecca Quinn (both 20 years of age), Shelina Zadorsky (23 years old), and Kennedy Faulknor (16 years old) make up a big portion of the young faces in camp. Buchanan is an elite defender and finding a complementary young defensive partner to play alongside her remains a top priority for Canada. Despite the lack of experience of playing at a senior national team level (Buchanan being the exception), Herdman has no concerns with the lack of veteran center backs in camp at such a vital position.

“We’ve got a FIFA Best Young Player in Kadeisha Buchanan. Rebecca Quinn is an NCAA finalist, Zadorsky and Faulknor are young up-and-coming players. The thinking is we have a world-class right centre-back and like Sinclair, one of the first players on the team sheet.”

[MORE: USA to host England, Germany, France in March tournament in Florida, Nashville]

The roster sheet for Canada’s camps since the World Cup did not include a number of players who were on Canada’s World Cup squad, including Kaylyn Kyle, Adriana Leon, Jonelle Filigno, Emily Zurrer, Carmelina Moscato, and Lauren Sesselmann. Those players have not retired from the national team and could be re-called for the Rio Olympic qualifying tournament and perhaps the Algarve Cup in March.

Herdman will name his roster for the Rio Olympic qualifying tournament on January 26. He has not yet submitted his 35-player list of available players to CONCACAF for the Olympic qualifying tournament, and it is expected that the above mentioned six players will be on that list.

“Everything is in question,” said Herdman. “No player is off the radar; we’ve been very clear with our communication. This December was an assessment phase. We’ve been looking at the physical profiles. When you go into an Olympics you’re going to play tier one teams which requires different types of players. Those players know they are still in the thinking. This tournament is not a development opportunity for players.”

Goal-scoring and finding players to support Christine Sinclair remains a work in progress, as Canada struggled mightily to find the net at the World Cup. As Sinclair looks to pass Mia Hamm on the all-time goal scoring list with her next goal, she is going to need some help going forward. Janine Beckie and Nichelle Prince are both capable of sharing the scoring load and were able to chip in with goals last December in Brazil.

[GORDON: Beckie eyes Olympic glory with Canada in 2016]

Herdman is hopeful that both players will progress and continue to contribute offensively. It also goes without saying that a healthy and in-form Diana Matheson will be a massive threat for Canada’s attack.

“I think the tournament in Brazil showed some signs for that,” Herdman said. “It was nice to see two scorers on the roster. Matheson was back and seeing her score was nice. We had Janine and Nichelle scoring against teams of quality. Belanger did it the game before. The scoring help is there; we have that pace and self belief. I’ve always said this, when players step up, Christine can be at her best and hopefully we can get that.”

Melissa Tancredi says Canada players won't be with their NWSL teams until after the World Cup. (Photo: Canada Soccer)

Melissa Tancredi has not scored for Canada since the 2012 London Olympics. (Photo: Canada Soccer)

Melissa Tancredi has to be mentioned as a player that Canada needs to step up to help with the scoring load. Since returning to the national team after taking a two-year break for chiropractic school after the 2012 London Olympics, the 34-year-old Tancredi has not scored for the national team. Tancredi has had numerous opportunities to score and none bigger than during the quarterfinal match against England at the World Cup. Tancredi scored five goals for the Chicago Red Stars in 21 appearances (nine starts) from 2014-2015. She will play for KIF Orebro in the Damallsvenskan this season.

Herdman hasn’t given up on Tancredi’s talents and still believes she can contribute and be a player that Canada can depend on: “I think every player moves through different phases. When she went back into the NWSL she bagged a few goals. I think with Melissa, people probably fail to see the amount of opportunities she had in the World Cup. She’s just getting back in the rhythm. I know behind the scenes she is working hard.”

The Olympic qualifying tournament does not fall into a FIFA window, so for the most part, club teams have no obligation to release players to a national team outside of a FIFA window. However, Herdman insisted that no club teams will prevent players from being called up. European based players Sophie Schmidt, Melissa Tancredi, and Erin McLeod will all be available if selected.

[KASSOUF: Mexico no longer allocating players to NWSL]

McLeod continues to rehab after picking up a minor knee injury at the December tournament in Brazil. At the moment she is with Damallsvenskan club FC Rosengard, but will join the Canadian team this Friday. At that time, her knee will be reassessed and her rehab will continue.

Herdman had a brief update on McLeod: “She is in Sweden at the minute, she’s on the way back on the 15th and she’s on our return to play plan. All the feedback we’ve had medically is that she will be coming back. I’m not an expert in that field; all the info from our physiotherapists is very precise.”

Canadian NWSL allocations for the 2016 season are expected to be announced later this week by the NWSL. Herdman and his players have deferred all comments regarding allocations until that time.

Notes: Canadian forward Summer Clarke picked up an injury in college during the fall and was reassessed during Canada’s November camp. As a result of her injury, she will not be one hundred percent fit for the Olympic qualifying tournament, and therefore was not called into the current camp. The Louisiana State University forward is another young goal scorer that Canada will be looking to for the future.

  • Rdalford

    Thanks for the update on Canadian WNT camp. Appreciate the status clarification on a number of players who were not called into the January camp
    “Those players have not retired from the national team and could be re-called for the Rio Olympic qualifying tournament and perhaps the Algarve Cup in March.”

  • Movement

    Yep, Tancredi hasn’t scored since she stomped on Carli’s head.
    And Carli went off in the Olympic Final 3 days later, and then at the 2015 WWC.
    It’s like that “stomp” kicked something good into Carli, and cursed Tancredi for life.

  • HOFCToDi

    Tancredi is nothing more than a 34 year old useless pylon. From the Chicago Red Stars perspective, good riddance.

    • Steglitz49

      Do you know why she has chosen to go and play in Sweden instead of getting on with her life? Granted, WoSo in Sweden is OK and the country is pleasant but it does not seem an obvious move for a has-been. Love-interest?

      • HOFCToDi

        The rumor is de-allocation by the CSA, financially cut off at the knees. I would not pay her even one penny more than the NWSL minimum.

  • Rdalford

    Appears (twitter) that Nkem Ezurike has signed to play in Sweden for Vittsjo GIK. She joins her former University of Michigan teammate Shelina Zadorsky with Vittsjo GIK.

    One assumes that Canada decided not to allocate Ezurike. Hopefully the opportunity with Vittsjo will give her some much needed regular playing time, some coaching and some needed fitness. Ezurike had a fairly good second half of 2014 rookie season with Boston (she stayed at Michigan to finish school then played on reserve team until she and Reeves got playing time in 2014) but not much playing time in 2015. Ezurike is big, strong target forward with pretty good feet that did well under Ryan at Michigan, but she needs regular playing time if she is to develop.

    • guest

      or perhaps Canada is allocating no one?
      us allocated players for 2016 announced, but nothing (yet) re Canada

    • Steglitz49

      Why are all these Canadians congregating in Sweden? Hockey?

      • Rdalford

        Short answer, Canadian players going to Sweden because they will be paid and have an opportunity to play.

        Not clear if Canada is going to allocate players to NWSL in 2016
        or if they are going to allocate players when they will make the announcement. The USWNT players allocated to NWSL in 2016 were announced today (24 players including 4 new Horan, S Mewis, Hinkle, and Sonnett) but nothing on allocations from Canada.

        “The NWSL will have further announcements regarding the official list of allocated players from the Canadian Soccer Association and Federation of Mexican Football in the coming days.”

        Already reported that Mexico would not be allocating players. Just not clear yet what Canada is going to announce.

  • JLC25

    Not sure about the other fans on this site, but I would much rather get updates on the German and/or French team…even the Japanese team above Canada.

    Although Canada is our CONCACAF rival and many players played in NCAA (or will), I am much more intrigued with what’s happening with Mittag, Miyama, etc. It was so great to learn more about Naho when she came over to the Reign – wouldn’t it be great to have profiles and videos of some of these top players on teams that really are USWNT rivals?

  • Rdalford

    Harjeet/Equalizer

    re Canadian allocations, article states
    “Canadian NWSL allocations for the 2016 season are expected to be announced later this week by the NWSL. Herdman and his players have deferred all comments regarding allocations until that time.”

    Any indication yet when some announcement re Canadian NWSL allocations for 2016 will be made?
    Seems that NWSL teams would need to know – pre 2016 NWSL Draft – the Canadian allocated player info to understand who is on their roster and to understand allocation status of Canadian players in the draft class.