Almost a year ago, The Equalizer reported that Canada would withhold its players from participating in the National Women’s Soccer League in the months prior to the 2015 Women’s World Cup. A Canadian Soccer Association document obtained by The Equalizer provided similar details about the 2016 season and the Olympics.
All the while, Canada still has not confirmed the specifics of its players participation in the U.S.-based professional league, which is entering a crucial third season.
Speaking to reporters last week following the World Cup Draw that placed Canada into Group A — where the hosts face tough sides in China, New Zealand and the Netherlands — Canada coach John Herdman still would not confirm the details of his players’ participation in the 2015 NWSL season. Herdman said the names of who will be subsidized for NWSL participation should be released by the end of December. But asked when players will join their NWSL teams ,Herdman said, “I don’t think that’s been determined yet.”
The Equalizer’s Harjeet Johal was on the scene in Vancouver, speaking to Herdman and Canada forward Melissa Tancredi, who offered a more specific and unsurprising take: Canada players will join their NWSL teams after the World Cup, which kicks off on June 6. The final is on July 5.
Tancredi: “We will be back after the World Cup, after our World Cup ends.”
Johal: So you’re not going to be playing for the Chicago Red Stars before the World Cup?
Tancredi: “No, were fully engaged here in CDP (Centralized Development Program) before the World Cup and then we’ll join our team(s) after the World Cup.”
Canada is one of the three founding federations of the NWSL, along with Mexico and the United States. Canada initially committed to fund the salaries of 16 national team players — two per team — for the inaugural 2013 season and for thee 2014 season.
The United States Soccer Federation initially subsidized 23 players in the inaugural NWSL season, though that number fluctuated throughout the season. U.S. Soccer committed to pay the salaries of 26 players at the start of the 2014 season, but that number and some of the names on the list are expected to change in 2015. Yael Averbuch already lost her status as a subsidized player, which made her a free agent and allowed her to sign with FC Kansas City.
U.S. players in 2015 could miss up to eight of 20 games for their teams, with somewhat minimal league participation until after the World Cup.
The number of NWSL players subsidized by Mexico in 2015 is also yet to be determined. As of September, only four Mexico players were definitely participating in the NWSL next season. Mexico coach Leo Cuellar was hopeful that would change after World Cup qualifying. Further complicating things for Mexico are the Pan Am Games in Toronto, which take place from July 10-26, right after the World Cup. It is possible and even likely that Mexico brings its full senior team to the event (Canada could, too), which would keep players from their NWSL teams for another three weeks.
Allocations were announced in early January each of the last two seasons, so official news should come soon. But it shouldn’t be any surprise that Canada is all-in on winning the 2015 World Cup on home soil. How realistic that is? That’s another question (answered here).
Reporting by Harjeet Johal and Jeff Kassouf
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