TORONTO — If Rachel Quon is aware that her decision to switch national teams from the United States to Canada is causing some controversy, she isn’t showing it.
The diminutive fullback spoke to the The Equalizer in Toronto after training with the Canadian national team for the first time.
“I was very fortunate and very thankful to be (in the US system) my whole youth career, but I got a call from John (Herdman) and Canada’s a great team.
“After talking to my coaches and talking to my family…I couldn’t really pass up this opportunity to develop as a player.”
Herdman confirmed after training on Friday that Quon will not be eligible to play vs. the U.S. on Sunday, but Herdman hopes the paperwork will be sorted in this month. Although Quon stressed that the decision was done with her long-term development in mind, she did point out that her connections to Canada run deep.
“My father was born in Canada – in Saskatchewan — and all of his family is still living here. When I was younger and had more time I used to come (to Canada) often.”
Quan holds dual Canadian-American citizenship and has done so her whole life.
In Canada a debate sprung up in soccer circles about whether it was appropriate for a player that has spent a limited amount of time in the country to represent it internationally. Although it was a minority of fans that took issue – and most stressed that their concerns were not about Quon herself, but rather the rules that allow for players to switch national teams – the issue of switching is a significant talking point in Canada where several players have left the Canadian fold to represent other countries over the last decade.
Famously, Sydney Leroux chose to play for the United States after starting her international youth career in Canada. Canadian fans that have criticized Leroux had rightly pointed out that it would be hypocritical to then cheer for a player in Quon’s situation.
However, Quon wasn’t concerning herself with those type of philosophical debates. To her, it was simply a soccer decision.
“John is a great coach and obviously this team is growing,” she said. “If I can contribute – and right now it’s kind of an evaluation – then I’d love to play.”
She was clear that the decision to switch national programs had nothing to do with how she was treated in the U.S. system.
***Additional reporting from Meg Linehan in Toronto.
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