Desiree Scott remains the Canadian team’s anchor, in a Feb. 3. 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canada’s Desiree Scott still relishes role as a midfielder destroyer

EDINBURG, Texas — While Canada coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller has looked to build a team able to switch formations and roles, Desiree Scott’s position remains largely unchanged.

The 32-year-old from Winnipeg is the team’s anchor, living up to her nickname Destroyer as holding midfielder. Crunching tackles are her calling card. Scott looks to win the ball back and trigger Canadian attacks.

“That feels like home,” said Scott. “Continuing to be the Destroyer, but then help us be a little more dangerous in the attack is my process now.”

Credit former coach John Herdman for coming up with the nickname during the 2012 Olympic qualifiers.

“He did an interview after and he said ‘How about that Desi Scott?’” Scott recalled. “He just said “She’s destroying them out there.’ And it just sort of stuck from there.”

On Saturday, Scott earned cap No. 150 and served as captain — with Christine Sinclair given the day off — as eighth-ranked Canada dispatched No. 51 Jamaica 9-0. This month also marks 10 years on the national team for Scott.

“That’s pretty wild to see I’m still kicking that old soccer ball around … It’s pretty cool to be able to still be here and keeping up with the young guns,” she said with a smile. “Well trying to anyways. It’s just an honour to be doing this.”

Scott becomes the fifth Canadian to earn 150 caps, joining Sinclair, Diana Matheson, Sophie Schmidt and the retired Rhian Wilkinson.

The Canadian women meet No. 26 Mexico on Tuesday to decide the Group B winner. Both teams have already advanced to the tournament semifinals.

The goals is to win the pool and avoid the Group A winner, likely the top-ranked Americans, in the semifinals. The U.S. faces No. 37 Costa Rica on Monday to decide their group.

The semifinal winners book their tickets to the Tokyo Olympic later this summer.

Scott’s role on the field is to disrupt the opposition. Scoring goals isn’t her brief but she came close to her first for Canada a couple of times coming off the bench against St. Kitts in a midweek 11-0 rout.

“Can’t buy a goal,” she lamented.

Scott was 22 when she made her debut for Canada in February 2010 in a 2-1 win over Switzerland at the Cyprus Cup. Sinclair scored that day, proving some things never change.

“I think I just remember a lot of nerves,” Scott said of that game, recalling being a little intimidated in the presence of veteran teammates like Wilkinson, Matheson and Sinclair.

Scott still feels the nerves a bit before games but says the team is her family these days.

“It feels like home on and off the pitch,” she said.

A group chat helps that connection when the players are spread around the globe with their clubs.

Scott is going into her third season in Utah, where the Royals play at Rio Tinto Stadium.

“The soccer environment is absolutely incredible,” she said. “I think our owner (Dell Loy Hansen) is wanting to just raise the women’s game, not only for our club but for the entire (NWSL) league, which is incredible to have that kind of support behind you.

“We’ve got a brand new locker-room made just for us. They want us to feel how like how the MLS men’s (Real Salt Lake) team feels. So we’re playing at their stadium. It’s truly professional and you feel like a professional playing there.”

The mountain locale also has Scott exploring.

“I’ve been forced to become a little more outdoorsy these days,” she said. “Taking in the hikes, the scenery. It’s not usually my scene but I’ve come to love the outdoors a bit more. A lot of good coffee shops. It’s got character for sure.”

The fan support is also impressive, with crowds of around 10,000 supporting the Royals.

Her club resume also includes the Vancouver Whitecaps, FC Kansas City and England’s Notts County. She landed in Utah after the Kansas City franchise folded, a sad day for Scott who loved the city.

“It’s like a bigger Winnipeg with better BBQ,” she said fondly.

In England, she had a bucket list moment when she played in an FA Cup final before 30,000 at Wembley for Notts County.

Returning to Texas for the Olympic qualifier brings back memories, not all good for Scott.

In September 2018, Scott was injured on the first day of training camp in Texas ahead of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament for the 2019 World Cup. Her foot was stepped on during a tackle, resulting in a small bone fragment coming loose in her big toe.

She spent the next two months in a walking boot.

“Toe’s fully healed,” she said. “At a different place now. Coming back to this hotel, it was a little bit weird. I stayed on (in 2018) in a leadership role, so I stayed here throughout tournament.

“A little deja-vu coming here but a better situation, thank goodness.”

A different place includes putting some distance from the disappointing round-of-16 exit at last summer’s World Cup in France after a 1-0 loss to Sweden.

“For me personally it took a long time, well into the fall, to get over it,” she said. “I don’t know if I’m fully over it yet. I think the leadup to the World Cup, we truly had such a belief that we could go and win the entire thing. The early exit was pretty shocking.”

“A pretty sour taste,” she added. “But then having that time to reflect and now with a potential Olympics around the corner, I think it’s fuel to the fire because I know that was an early exit for us and we have way more to show and to prove.”

Scott, a former University of Manitoba player who is a certified Zumba instructor away from the pitch, sees 2020 as “a fresh start.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2020.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE - A Tim Hortons employee hands out coffee from a drive-through window to a customer in Mississauga, Ont., on March 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Tim Hortons to test deposit program for returnable coffee cups and packaging

Test program to start at select Toronto restaurants

FILE - U.S. President Donald Trump, center left, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chat before a round table meeting of NATO leaders in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Evan Vucci
US NATO allies still short on defence spending aims

None of the 30 allies owes NATO or its members money

Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce announces business of the year winners

All finalists ‘displayed courage’ this year, says chamber CEO

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.	Kenney is isolating at home after one of his ministers tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta premier isolating after minister tests positive for COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is isolating at home

Canada goalkeeper Erin McLeod wipes tears from her eyes after losing 2-1 to England during a FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinal soccer game in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday June 27, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canadian ‘keeper Erin McLeod happy in Iceland, looks to help others stay positive

Orlando loaned McLeod to Iceland’s Ungmennafelag Stjarnan in August

FILE - Toronto Raptors’ Fred VanVleet (23) goes up for a shot agains the Boston Celtics during the first half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Raptors do without live visits from potential recruits as NBA draft approaches

No opportunity to bring players to Toronto training facility

FILE - This Dec. 11, 2019 file photo shows Channing Dungey at The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment Breakfast Gala in Los Angeles. Dungey has been named chairman, Warner Bros. Television Group, starting her tenure at the studio early next year. The news was announced today by Ann Sarnoff, Chair and CEO, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, to whom she will report. Dungey will succeed Peter Roth who will be stepping down from his Studio responsibilities running the TV Group and its operating divisions in early 2021. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
Study: TV industry falls short of off-camera inclusivity

Whites held 92 per cent of chair and CEO positions

Tampa Bay Rays' Brandon Lowe rounds the bases after a home run off Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Tony Gonsolin during the first inning in Game 2 of the baseball World Series Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Lowe homers twice, Rays hold off Dodgers 6-4 to even Series

Lowe homers twice, Rays hold off Dodgers 6-4 to even Series

Mighty Heart is held outside trainer Josie Carroll's stable by exercise rider Des McMahon, as the colt is washed down after being breezed at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto on October 15, 2020. Mighty Heart will make his Triple Crown quest from the the No. 8 post Saturday. The Queen's Plate and Prince of Wales champion was named the even-money favourite in the draw Wednesday for the $400,000 Breeders' Stakes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Mighty Heart to take run at ending Triple Crown drought in $400,000 Breeders Stakes

Mighty Heart to take run at ending Triple Crown drought in $400,000 Breeders Stakes

Toronto Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro watches during baseball spring training in Dunedin, Fla., on Friday, February 24, 2017/ Short on specifics and long on bullishness, Shapiro set an optimistic tone during his first general media availability since the team was eliminated from the post-season a few weeks ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro short on specifics, long on bullishness

Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro short on specifics, long on bullishness

Most Read