Also in today’s roundup, the Spirit forgo from retaining Labbé’s rights, Ashleigh Sykes retires from professional soccer, multiple NWSL clubs announce preseason schedules, and several Cyprus Cup rosters drop.
Canada announce 2018 Algarve Cup roster
New Canada women’s national team head coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller has selected his 23-player roster for the 2018 Algarve Cup, a friendly tournament held annually in Portugal. The tournament will be the first competitive matches with Heiner-Møller at Canada’s helm.
The 2016 Algarve Cup champions and 2017 runners-up, drawn into Group B, will open their tournament action on February 28 against Sweden. They will then face Russia on March 2 before closing out group play against Korea Republic on March 5. They will then play a placement match on March 7 to determine tournament standings.
The roster includes a number of veterans including Desiree Scott, Sophie Schmidt and captain Christine Sinclair. However, following in his predecessor John Herdman’s footsteps, Heiner-Møller has also named four teenagers—Jessie Fleming (19), Deanne Rose (18), Julia Grosso (17) and Jordyn Huitema (16)—all of whom have previously been called-up to the senior national team, to the squad.
“Once again, we are bringing a young, hungry team, blended with more experienced veteran players to the Algarve Cup as we continue to expand our tournament expertise heading into the CONCACAF Women’s Championship later this year,” Heiner-Møller said in the team’s official announcement.
The tournament roster also features the returns of goalkeeper Erin McLeod and Diana Matheson, both of whom have missed out on multiple national team camps while recovering from torn ACLs. Although McLeod has returned to playing at the club level and has previously trained with Canada, this marks the first time she has officially been included on the team’s roster since that injury. Matheson has yet to return to club play, missing the 2017 NWSL season with the Seattle Reign FC before being traded during the offseason to the Utah Royals.
Canada’s rull Algarve Cup roster is listed below.
CANADA ROSTER BY POSITION
Goalkeepers (3): Stephanie Labbé (unattached), Erin McLeod (FF USV Jena), Kailen Sheridan (Sky Blue FC)
Defenders (6): Lindsay Agnew (Houston Dash), Kadeisha Buchanan (Olympique Lyonnais), Allysha Chapman (North Carolina Courage), Ashley Lawrence (Paris Saint Germain), Shannon Woeller (FF USV Jena), Shelina Zadorsky (Orlando Pride)
Midfielders (7): Jessie Fleming (UCLA), Julia Grosso (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite), Maegan Kelly (Utah Royals FC), Diana Matheson (Utah Royals FC), Rebecca Quinn (Washington Spirit), Sophie Schmidt (FFC Frankfurt), Desiree Scott (Utah Royals FC)
Forwards (7): Janine Beckie (Sky Blue FC), Jenna Hellstrom (FC Rosengård), Jordyn Huitema (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite), Adriana Leon (Sky Blue FC), Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash), Deanne Rose (University of Florida), Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns FC)
Spirit elect not to retain Stephanie Labbé’s rights
The Washington Spirit have decided not to retain goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé’s NWSL rights, according to an official team statement Wednesday night.
The Canadian-international’s rights were then made available to the eight other NWSL clubs through the league’s distribution process on Thursday, but no club claimed her rights. She is now discovery eligible in the league.
Labbé appeared in 25 matches over two seasons with the Spirit. She recorded two clean sheets out of 17 performances for the club in 2017 before departing the club early for medical reasons.
She missed part of the 2016 NWSL season while away on national team duty with Canada for the Rio Olympics, where she helped the team win the bronze medal.
Thank you to the @WashSpirit organization for giving me the opportunity to play in front of the best fans (@SpiritSquadron) and to all my teammies for the good times! Can't wait to share what's next for me… stay tuned😁 Thank you for all the support ✌🏽❤⚽️
— Stephanie Labbé (@stephlabbe1) February 15, 2018
Ashleigh Sykes retires from professional soccer
After 10 seasons in the Australian W-League and one season in the NWSL with the Portland Thorns, forward Ashleigh Sykes has announced her retirement from professional soccer, effective immediately.
“Towards the end of 2017 I made the decision not to return to the NWSL and that this season would be my last playing in the Westfield W-League,” Sykes said in a statement posted to her social media. “I’m so thankful to have had the chance to represent Canberra United, Portland Thorns and the Matildas during my career.”
Last season was the 26-year old’s first in the NWSL, where she joined the Portland Thorns part way through the season. She made 12 starts over 15 appearances, notching a goal and an assist during the Thorns’ run to their second NWSL Championship.
Sykes made her W-League debut in Canberra United’s first match in 2008 when she was just 17 years old and has been with the team for all 10 seasons of the W-League’s existence. In all, she has made 108 appearances and scored 41 goals for the club, helping them to three Premierships and two Championships in that time.
Her 12 goals in the 2016/2017 season earned her the league’s Golden Boot award, and she received the Julie Dolan Medal for most valuable player for the 2015/2016 season.
It's time for something new! Thanks for all the good times and memories 🙌💚🌹 pic.twitter.com/Rbr0LP9FL5
— Ashleigh Sykes (@ashsykes91) February 15, 2018
Chicago, Portland, Utah release preseason schedules
With the 2018 NWSL preseason right around the corner, three clubs—the Chicago Red Stars, Portland Thorns, and Utah Royals—have released their preseason schedules. The league’s sixth preseason officially gets underway on Monday, February 19, with the regular season scheduled to kick off on Saturday, March 24.
Portland announced on Thursday that they will once again be hosting the Thorns Spring Invitational as part of the team’s preseason preparations. The third edition of the four-team, round-robin preseason tournament will feature the same four teams as last year’s installment: the Portland Thorns, Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, and the U.S. U-23 women’s national team. The preseason tournament will be held at the University of Portland and will run from March 11-17. The full schedule for the tournament is listed below.
Before heading to Portland, the Red Stars will open their 2018 preseason competition with two closed-door matches. The first, a road match against Marquette University, will take place on Saturday, February 24. The following weekend the Red Stars will take on the University of Wisconsin on Sunday, March 4.
“This preseason schedule will push our players and allow the coaching staff to evaluate our preseason roster,” Chicago Head Coach Rory Dames said in the team’s official announcement. “Last year the Portland tournament allowed us to take on the top teams and be prepared for the NWSL season, so we are excited to head back and play against the Thorns, Dash and U-23’s.”
In their inaugural NWSL preseason, the Utah Royals will be taking on two top NCAA programs, BYU and UCLA. The Royals will open up the 2018 preseason in Utah on the 19th before taking on the BYU Cougars on Saturday, March 3. On March 12, the team will travel to L.A., where they will train for a few days ahead of a Friday, March 16 match against the UCLA Bruins. The Royals will then return to Utah, where they will finish out the rest of preseason.
2018 Thorns Spring Invitational Schedule
Sunday, March 11 – Houston Dash vs. U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team at 2:30 p.m. ET; Thorns FC vs. Chicago Red Stars at 8 p.m. ET at University of Portland (Merlo Field)
Wednesday, March 14 – Chicago Red Stars vs. Houston Dash at 4:30 p.m. ET.; Thorns FC vs. U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team at 10:30 p.m. (Pacific) at University of Portland (Merlo Field)
Saturday, March 17 – Chicago Red Stars vs. U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team at 4:30 p.m. ET; Thorns FC vs. Houston Dash at 10:30 p.m. ET at University of Portland (Merlo Field)