Houston Dash's Sophie Schmidt, left, and Chicago Red Stars' Savannah McCaskill, right, battle for the ball during the second half of an NWSL Challenge Cup soccer finals match Sunday, July 26, 2020, in Sandy, Utah. Schmidt, who scored the winning goal for Houston in the Challenge Cup final, has signed a new contract with the Dash. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Rick Bowmer

Veteran Canadian international Sophie Schmidt re-signs with the Houston Dash

Veteran Canadian international Sophie Schmidt re-signs with the Houston Dash

Canadian midfielder Sophie Schmidt, who scored the winning goal for Houston in the Challenge Cup final, has signed a new contract with the Dash.

The NWSL team says the deal runs through 2022 with a club option for 2023.

Schmidt started nine out of 11 games in 2020 with four goals and one assist. She scored in four consecutive matches, with the run starting July 26 in the Challenge Cup final with a fifth-minute penalty kick that proved to be the match-winner over Chicago.

Schmidt scored in Houston’s next three games, helped the Dash to second place in the league while becoming the third-highest scoring Canadian in league history.

“I’m very excited to re-sign Sophie — she’s a really important player for us on and off the field,”, head coach James Clarkson said in a statement. “She had an outstanding year and scored some really important goals. We want to continue pushing her to new levels.”

Part of the Canadian national team since 2005, the 32-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., has won 199 caps with 19 goals and 20 assists. Schmidt is a versatile member of the squad, able to help the attack or drop into the backline.

She led Canada in minutes played in 2020, helping earn Olympic qualification. The Canadian women have not played since March 10 when they tied Brazil 2-2 at a tournament in France.

In other Canadian NWSL news, goalkeeper Devon Kerr has signed a one-year contract with a team option for a second year with the Washington Spirit. Kerr will join fellow ‘keeper Aubrey Bledsoe on the Spirit roster.

Born in the Toronto area, Kerr grew up in Barrie and Markham, Ont., While her Barrie-based parents are both Canadian, she and her mother also hold American citizenship through her mother’s father, a U.S. veteran.

She was Big Ten goalkeeper of the year at Ohio State in 2018.

Spirit coach Richie Burke called re-signing Kerr a “no-brainer for us.”

“She worked incredibly hard last season, spending lots of time in the gym and in extra sessions, so I’m hoping the additional work we assigned during the off-season will have worked to her benefit.”

Kerr joined Washington in March from France’s FC Mertz. She has appeared in both the Canadian and U.S. youth setups.

Canadian internationals Desiree Scott and Diana Matheson were part of the roster unveiled Friday by the new Kansas City NWSL entry. Scott was part of the FC Kansas City franchise that became the Utah Royals before moving back for a second stint in Kansas City.

Canada, meanwhile, will finish the year in the FIFA women’s rankings tied for eighth with Brazil.

The only change in the top 10 in December saw Japan move to No. 10 at the expense of South Korea.

The U.S., with its highest points total since June 2014, remained No. 1 ahead of Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, England and Australia. Canada was tied at No. 8 with Brazil.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 18, 2020

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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