After a dominant display against Mexico in Canada’s final World Cup sendoff before the 2019 World Cup, The Mastermind Site takes a look at how Canada could line-up at this year’s tournament in France.
GOALKEEPER: STEPHANIE LABBÉ
Stephanie Labbé has had a bright start to life with North Carolina Courage, keeping 2 clean sheets in her first four appearances for the club. At 32 years old, Labbé has 60 caps to her name and her only real competition for the number one spot in goal is Sky Blue’s Kailen Sheridan, who has 7 caps. She has been a part of Canada’s success in recent tournaments including their bronze medal win in Rio 2016, but has often had to play second fiddle to Erin McLeod. With McLeod pulling out of the tournament, Stephanie Labbé will certainly secure the number 1 spot and will be instrumental to helping Canada claim victory in France.
RIGHT BACK: ASHLEY LAWRENCE
Ashley Lawrence may be only 23 years old, but she has 75 caps to her name and a wealth of experience with Paris Saint Germain in Division 1 Féminine. Lawrence can play as a wide midfielder or as a fullback on both flanks and with Allysha Chapman set to hold down the position on the left, the PSG defender may just slide in on the right for Kenneth Heiner-Møller at this year’s World Cup. Having played the last three years in France, she will also know the nation well and how to handle some of the very best players at this year’s tournament.
CENTRE BACK: KADEISHA BUCHANAN
Coming off of a third-straight UEFA Champions League title, Kadeisha Buchanan continues to be one of the best defenders in the world. At just the age of 23, Buchanan already has 87 caps to her name for Canada and will certainly be one of the key players at this year’s tournament. Solid in every aspect of the game, Buchanan was the Young Player of the Tournament the last time out at the World Cup back in 2015 and this time around she’ll be hoping to lead Canada to gold.
CENTRE BACK: SHELINA ZADORSKY
A stalwart for the Orlando Pride in the NWSL, Shelina Zadorsky should slot right in alongside Kadeisha Buchanan at the heart of Canada’s back-line. The London, Ontario native started every single one of the opening NWSL matches for Orlando before joining Canada’s pre-tournament training, and only missed one match for the Pride last season. She’s hardly missed a minute of NWSL action since 2017 in fact, and her club team will miss her dearly as she spends time away for this summer’s World Cup.
LEFT BACK: ALLYSHA CHAPMAN
Allysha Chapman is another player who’s been around for all of Canada’s recent success, including their Olympic bronze medal back in 2016. The 30-year old left-back has been a regular in the NWSL for the past five years and was enjoying a great run of form with the Houston Dash prior to leaving for the tournament. Although she isn’t the one with the most caps, Chapman is the eldest and perhaps even most experienced of Canada’s defenders at the tournament. Her calmness and composure in possession will be a much-needed asset for Canada this summer and she’ll be able to link up down the left with her Houston Dash teammate Sophie Schmidt.
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD: DESIREE SCOTT
With 141 caps to her name, Desiree Scott is one of the very best in the world in her position and breaks up play better than almost anyone else in the women’s game. Scott has been a major success since joining the Utah Royals back in 2018 and the balance she will provide to Canada’s midfield alongside Jessie Fleming and Sophie Schmidt will be immense. The tough tackling defensive midfielder was around for both of Canada’s Olympic bronze medals in 2012 and 2016 and will be hoping to help her nation earn another medal, this time at the World Cup in 2019.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD: JESSIE FLEMING
Jessie Fleming might still play college soccer for UCLA, but she is one of Canada’s most capped current players. At 21 years of age, Fleming has 64 caps and 8 goals to her name and has been a regular for Canada since before the 2015 World Cup when she was just 17 years old. Now with more experience and four years under her belt playing on the world’s biggest stage, Fleming could be unstoppable at this summer’s World Cup. The London, Ontario native could play anywhere in the midfield three, including as a ‘6’ if she was required to fill in for Desiree Scott or as a ’10’ if Heiner-Møller switched to a 4-2-3-1. Also look for Fleming to help ease the goal-getting responsibilities off of Christine Sinclair as she is becoming one of the very best at timing her runs into the box.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD: SOPHIE SCHMIDT
Speaking of players with a whole lot of experience playing for Canada, Sophie Schmidt has made 183 appearances for her national side since 2005 when she represented Canada at 16-years old. Now 30 years of age, Schmidt has so much experience behind her and having had a successful time in Germany with FFC Frankfurt, Schmidt has returned to the NWSL to play alongside her compatriots Allysha Chapman and Nichelle Prince. A calming figure for Canada in midfield, Schmidt even filled in at centre back in the final fifteen minutes of their friendly against Mexico last week. If Canada are going to have a shot at winning, Sophie Schmidt is going to need to be on her ‘A’ game, like she has been for nearly the entirety of her national team career.
RIGHT WING: NICHELLE PRINCE
Nichelle Prince is one of the rising stars in this Canadian team. The dynamic, pacey right winger has been a handful for left-sided defenders for three seasons now in the NWSL and was 21-years old when Canada won Olympic bronze three years ago. Prince is not a renowned goal-scorer but like Janine Beckie, will be an important part of the cast and crew to Christine Sinclair’s heroism up front. If she can hold off West Ham’s Adriana Leon for a place inside of the lineup, that’ll prove just how talented she really is.
CENTRE FORWARD: CHRISTINE SINCLAIR
Canada’s most illustrious footballer, maybe even athlete of all time, Christine Sinclair is still scoring goals for fun at the age of 35. Sinclair has scored 181 goals in 281 matches for her national side and continues to lead Canada with so much pride and fight. She’s started the season for Portland Thorns FC off well, scoring 3 goals in her first 3 matches and has been bright for Canada, scoring 4 goals in her last 7 matches this year. Sinclair continues to be her country’s greatest hope at doing well at a major tournament but with all the star power around her, she will certainly not be on her own in leading the charge.
LEFT WING: JANINE BECKIE
Janine Beckie might not score as many goals as Christine Sinclair or even West Ham forward Adriana Leon, but she is one of the most talented players in this Canadian lineup. Beckie is in the form of her life, coming off Manchester City’s fantastic season in which they finished second in the FAWSL and won the FA Cup. She even chipped in with 7 goals in 6 cup matches this season and is proving to be instrumental in everything Canada create lately. A clever passer of the ball, Beckie’s link-up play with Sinclair and Fleming from deep will be integral at this year’s tournament and she might just be one of the players to watch at this year’s tournament.
Kenneth Heiner-Møller has favoured a 4-3-3 since taking over for John Herdman and the formation allows all of Canada’s players to fit together like a perfectly completed puzzle. Watch out for Adriana Leon to come off the bench and make an impact or start in place of Nichelle Prince on the odd game or two; and Rebecca Quinn to also feature prominently at the back for Canada. Youngsters Julia Grosso, Jordyn Huteima and Deanne Rose will also likely have a massive role to play from the bench and could see a lot of game time at this summer’s tournament.
So there it is! How Canada could line up at this summer’s World Cup in France. This is an experienced Canadian lineup but with a good mix of youth, energy and vibrancy, particularly from the bench, but also in the form of players like Nichelle Prince and Jessie Fleming. Christine Sinclair will continue to lead the line and will be the nation’s greatest hope at winning a World Cup, but the onus is certainly not only on her as all the player’s around her are seasoned veterans in their respective leagues. Who do you think will make the biggest impact for Canada at the tournament? Will anyone not listed get into Heiner-Møller’s plans? Share your thoughts below or on Twitter @mastermindsite. Thanks for reading and see you soon!
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