On Wednesday, Canada named its roster for upcoming friendlies in Europe vs. France on April 4 and England on April 9. The 19-player roster consists of entirely North American based players (roster listed below).
Two notable players not on the roster are Candace Chapman and Christina Julien. Chapman is said to be still recovering from the torn calf she suffered at the Olympics eight months ago, where she was part of the bronze medal-winning Canadian team.
Now it seems like Chapman, who turns 30 on April 2, may have seen the last of her time with Canada, an unfortunate fate for a center back who has proven to be a rock, anchoring two different WPS back lines to championships in addition to that bronze medal. Chapman was not one of the 16 players allocated to an NWSL team (and therefore paid directly by the Canadian Soccer Association); she signed with the Washington Spirit as a free agent.
And on Wednesday, Canada coach John Herdman made it clear that the future is in the youth:
Candace, she picked up a pro contract, which is fantastic. So I’ll be able to keep an eye on Candace in the new league. She’s come back from a pretty bad injury over the Olympics and she’ll find her way back into the game, I’m sure. And if her performances are still right up there, then she’ll certainly be getting called up. But I think there is a reality check that we are carrying an aging back line with [Carmelina] Moscato and a [Lauren] Sesselmann who are at the late ends of their 20s and you throw Chapman in there, I’ve got to be prepared to give those younger players like the [17-year-old Kadeisha] Buchanan’s a bit more time.”
In fairness, Herdman has said for some time that he is focused on developing younger players. One look at the latest roster, which boasts six players born in the 1990s, shows that.
The future doesn’t sound bright for the few European-based Canadian players either, of which forward Julien and goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé are two of the most notable.
Julien, who currently plays for Russian club Rossiyanka (yes, that Rossiyanka), just played 45 minutes in the first leg of a UEFA Champions League quarterfinal vs. Wolfsburg but saw only a few minutes in the second leg on Thursday. Still, she’s a 24-year-old forward who only eight months ago was an alternate on the Canadian Olympic team and who is based in Europe, which is seemingly a small advantage to receiving a call-up for a European camp.
She was used as a second half substitute in all four Cyprus Cup games earlier in March. But the Champions League, which by the quarterfinal and semifinal stages is considered some of the best women’s club soccer competition on the planet, isn’t enough to earn automatic inclusion in the Canadian side. Here’s what Herdman said on Wednesday:
The women’s game now, you can get to see what you need to see and you can get the information that you need. And I think that’s what’s been great – maybe five, six years ago if players went overseas, you just wouldn’t even hear anything. So now I can check on UEFA websites and find out what minutes she played; I can also go into Pro Zone and ask for the footage of games if I need that. SO those players that are overseas and have chosen the Swedish (league) or a different pathway, it’s not like they won’t be seen. But I think there is also a reality check that for players playing 45 minutes in Europe for a Russian team, who aren’t the best team in the world, are they really going to play for the Canadian team against players that can play in the top leagues in the world? So there’s also a bit of that as well. We certainly keep an eye on those players and they get called into camps at times, but if you are playing for Arsenal and scoring a hat trick every week, or if you are playing for FC Malmö and scoring a hat trick every week, maybe you’ll be playing for the Canadian national team.”
So for at least a pair of Canadians, there is this “reality check” that there are uphill battles to climb, of age and of where to play professionally. Rossiyanka is a club that can, relative to women’s soccer, splurge on players (when they actually pay them on time), but that could come at the cost of exclusion from the national team picture, a catch-22.
Canada’s roster for games vs. France, England:
1 – GK- Erin McLeod | USA / Chicago Red Stars
2 – CB- Emily Zurrer | USA / Seattle Reign FC
3 – F- Tiffany Cameron | USA / Seattle Reign FC
4 – CB- Carmelina Moscato | USA / Chicago Red Stars
5 – FB- Robyn Gayle | USA / Washington Spirit
6 – M- Kaylyn Kyle | USA / Seattle Reign FC
7 – FB- Rhian Wilkinson | USA / Boston Breakers
8 – M – Diana Matheson | USA / Washington Spirit
9 – FB- Ashley Lawrence | CAN / Erin Mills Mighty Eagles
10 – CB- Lauren Sesselmann | USA / FC Kansas City
11 – M- Desiree Scott | USA / FC Kansas City
12 – F- Christine Sinclair | USA / Portland Thorns FC
13 – M- Sophie Schmidt | USA / Sky Blue FC
14 – CB- Kadeisha Buchanan | CAN / Erin Mills Mighty Eagles U-16
15 – F- Adriana Leon | USA / Boston Breakers
16 – M- Jonelle Filigno | USA / Rutgers University
17 – F- Jodi-Ann Robinson |USA / Western New York Flash
19 – FB- Chelsea Stewart | USA / UCLA
33 – GK- Karina LeBlanc | USA / Portland Thorns FC