Canada coach Bev Priestman finalized her roster Tuesday for the SheBelieves Cup, a decision-making process that has been largely taken out of her hands in the buildup to Thursday’s kickoff.
Olivia Smith, a 16-year-old forward, and Victoria Pickett, a 24-year-old midfielder, both missed out on the 23-woman tournament squad. Seven other members of Priestman’s original camp squad are already gone, either due to injury or pandemic-related issues.
Captain Christine Sinclair and midfielder Diana Matheson, who have 500 caps and 205 international goals between them, didn’t make it to camp in Orlando because of injury. Veteran goalkeeper Erin McLeod and uncapped defender Bianca St-Georges returned to their clubs after picking up injuries at camp.
Centre back Kadeisha Buchanan (Lyon), fullback Ashley Lawrence and forward Jordyn Huitema (both Paris Saint-Germain) were denied release by their French clubs.
The tournament falls during a FIFA international window, which would ordinarily requite clubs to release players for international duty. But France recently imposed a seven-day quarantine for travellers due to COVID-19. FIFA, trying to limit player absences, is allowing clubs to keep players if they face a quarantine longer than five days.
Lindsay Agnew (North Carolina Courage), Sarah Stratigakis (University of Michigan) and Pickett (taken by Kansas City in the second round of last month’s NWSL draft) were late additions to camp.
The Canadian women, tied for eighth with Brazil in the FIFA world rankings, open Thursday against the top-ranked Americans in the four-team tournament, which runs through Feb. 24 at Exploria Stadium. Canada then faces Brazil on Feb. 21 and No. 31 Argentina on Feb. 24.
The Argentines were a late addition to the field after No. 10 Japan pulled out, citing the pandemic.
While the Canadian roster has been ravaged, it still features 12 players who won bronze at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
There are five uncapped players: goalkeeper Rylee Foster, defender Jade Rose, midfielders Jordyn Listro and Samantha Chang and forward Evelyne Viens.
“I know that every player who puts on the Canadian jersey will give everything they have to get a result and make their country proud,” Priestman said in a statement. “I have been really impressed by the mindset and application of this group of players since the beginning of our February camp, and I can’t wait to see them in action against some of the best teams in the world.”
Goalkeepers: Stephanie Labbe, FC Rosengard (Sweden); Rylee Foster, Liverpool FC (England); Kailen Sheridan, Sky Blue FC (NWSL).
Defenders: Allysha Chapman, Houston Dash (NWSL); Jade Rose, Super REX Ontario; Shelina Zadorsky, Tottenham (England); Quinn, OL Reign FC (NWSL); Gabrielle Carle, Florida State University; Jayde Riviere, University of Michigan; Lindsay Agnew, North Carolina Courage (NWSL); Vanessa Gilles, Girondins de Bordeaux (France).
Midfielders: Julia Grosso, University of Texas at Austin; Samantha Chang, University of South Carolina; Sarah Stratigakis, University of Michigan; Desiree Scott, Kansas City (NWSL); Sophie Schmidt, Houston Dash (NWSL); Jessie Fleming, Chelsea (England); Jordyn Listro, Orlando Pride (NWSL).
Forwards: Deanne Rose, University of Florida; Evelyne Viens, Sky Blue FC (NWSL); Nichelle Prince, Houston Dash (NWSL); Janine Beckie, Manchester City (England); Adriana Leon, West Ham (England).
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2021.