Canada begins training camp in Vancouver this week ahead of next month’s CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament, but the buzz from the North is currently on the club side.
Josée Bélanger has left FC Rosengård after only one season, forgoing the opportunity to fight for a UEFA Champions League title with the club this spring. Bélanger will play in the National Women’s Soccer League this year — as an allocated Canadian national team player, as The Equalizer understands — but with which club has not yet been revealed. Allocations are traditionally announced before the college draft each year; the 2016 NWSL College Draft takes place Jan. 15. A league spokesman said no specific date has yet been set for allocation announcements.
[GORDON: Canada youngster Janine Beckie poised for Olympic glory]
Bélanger said in an interview released Wednesday that she could retire at the end of 2016. Canada is expected to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics along with the United States. The Olympics take place in August.
Also regarding FC Rosengård and a Canadian player… Goalkeeper Erin McLeod has been linked to the Swedish champions for over two months, but she still has not signed a contract with the club. McLeod hurt her knee while playing for Canada against Brazil last month, but it appears to be only a minor injury and McLeod says she will be ready for Olympic qualifying, which takes place from Feb. 10-21 in Houston and Frisco, Texas.
McLeod is in Sweden with her wife, Ella Masar — who recently signed with FC Rosengård — visiting the club. McLeod is having her knee looked at and rehabbed by club doctors before joining the national team.
“Of course I was scared and thought the worst,” McLeod told media. “I have [had] operated cruciate ligament twice in the knee. But it was just a stretched ligaments. I have met many doctors and trust what they say.”
Despite not having a contract, the plan appears to be to have McLeod to join FC Rosengård after Olympic qualifying.
“It feels good that Erin can be here and get acquainted with us and we see how the knee heals. It is clear that she is a master track for us in the goalkeeper section,” sporting director Therese Sjögran said.
And speaking of Canadian goalkeepers… Stephanie Labbé looks set to join the Washington Spirit via the allocation process, as first reported by The Equalizer’s Harjeet Johal.
Hearing #CanWNT's Steph Labbe is headed to the Washington Spirit for the 2016 #NWSL season, likely via allocation.
— Har Journalist (@HarJournalist) January 4, 2016
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