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  • Canada unveils Cyprus Cup roster as World Cup countdown continues

    GK- Stephanie Labbé | SWE / KIF Örebro

    GK- Karina LeBlanc | USA / Chicago Red Stars

    GK- Erin McLeod | USA / Houston Dash

    D- Kadeisha Buchanan | USA / West Virginia University

    D- Allysha Chapman | USA / Houston Dash

    D- Robyn Gayle | unattached / sans club

    D- Carmelina Moscato | unattached / sans club

    D- Marie-Eve Nault | SWE / KIF Örebro

    D- Rebecca Quinn | USA / Duke University

    D- Rhian Wilkinson | USA / Portland Thorns FC

    D- Emily Zurrer | SWE / Jitex BK

    M- Kaylyn Kyle | USA / Portland Thorns FC

    M- Jonelle Filigno | USA / Sky Blue FC

    M- Jessie Fleming | CAN / London NorWest SC

    M- Desiree Scott | ENG / Notts County Ladies FC

    M- Sophie Schmidt | unattached / sans club

    M- Selenia Iachelli | unattached / sans club

    M- Ashley Lawrence | USA / West Virginia University

    F- Josée Bélanger | CAN / Comètes de Laval

    F- Janine Beckie | USA / Texas Tech University

    F- Christina Julien | GER / FF USV Jena

    F- Adriana Leon | USA / Chicago Stars

    F- Christine Sinclair | USA / Portland Thorns FC

    F- Melissa Tancredi | USA / Chicago Red Stars

    Who's not there?

    The two big (but unsurprising) omissions are Diana Matheson and Lauren Sesselmann, both of whom are still recovering from knee injuries. Matheson has been Canada's midfield engine for a decade, while Sesselmann has been a solid and versatile member of the back line since joining the program several years ago. Both played big parts in Canada's run to the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics, and the absence of one or both of them will hamper Canada's efforts to advance deep into this summer's World Cup. So, keep your fingers crossed.

    Another notable absentee is Rachel Quon, who made her debut for Canada at last year's Cyprus Cup, after completing the switch from the U.S. program (she was born in the U.S. and played for various American national teams at the youth level). The 23-year-old Chicago Red Stars defender was added to the Canadian program to increase the depth of its "in-between" generation -- the group in between the team's collection of late-20s/early-30s veterans and its upcoming U-20/U-17 crop.

    How 'bout those kids?

    It's weird to still think of Kadeisha Buchanan as a "kid", considering the 19-year-old is already one half of Canada's top CB pairing, with 23 caps and two goals to her name already. Her potential future partner in Canada's top CB pairing is fellow 19-year-old Rebecca Quinn, who has seven caps with the senior national team and played at last summer's U-20 Women's World Cup. Buchanan is a lock for the World Cup, while Quinn is on the periphery; she'll be competing hard for a spot in Cyprus.

    If Matheson has been Canada's midfield engine for the last decade, Jessie Fleming could very well be its engine for the next decade (though please don't call her "the next Diana Matheson"; those "_____ is the next _____" comparisons never work out right). At just 16, she's already started five times for the senior team -- but with her athleticism and intelligence, she's hardly looked out of place. Something tells me that Herdman will, if it's at possible, give her a shot on the World Cup roster, though her status could depend on whether or not Matheson is fit to go.

    Ashley Lawrence, 19, and Janine Beckie, 20, are two other youngsters who'll likely find themselves on the bubble when World Cup roster selection time comes around. Lawrence has been highly touted within the Canadian system for years, while Beckie has shown goal-scoring promise as of late, scoring twice at the U-20 WWC and potting her first senior-team goal last month in a four-nations tournament in China.

    Thanks for the help

    It's good to see the men's national team's favourite feeder club, Unattached FC, helping out the women's national team as well. While this roster shows four players currently unattached, it does seem as though at least a couple of them actually are currently with clubs. Either way, Rule #18 of Canadian Soccer is in full effect: Unattached FC references are always hilarious. Always.

    So she's a midfielder now, or...?

    Every time the CSA releases a roster, there is usually at least one player who is listed at a position they don't normally play, leading us in the media (or in my case, "media") to wonder whether the head coach has something new in mind, or whether it's just a random typo. This time out, it's striker Jonelle Filigno being listed as a midfielder.

    Maybe the tournament has some kind of cap on the number of players that can be listed at each position, and Filigno drew the short straw? Canada is carrying seven strikers altogether, with Herdman wanting to see whether the likes of Beckie and Christina "Corky" Julien can earn their way onto the World Cup roster.

    Or maybe Filigno woke up in the middle of the night, in a cold sweat, and loudly declared to the universe, "I AM A MIDFIELDER!" We shall see (well, we won't, since there's no way of watching the Cyprus Cup, but you get my point).

    Obligatory reference to Canada not being in the Algarve Cup

    So, every year, Canada is in the Cyprus Cup, and every year in this space I wonder aloud "why aren't they in the Algarve Cup?" The Algarve Cup is older and more prestigious than the Cyprus Cup, and happens at the same time. Canada hasn't been to the tournament since 2003. The simple answer to my question is, of course, that we weren't invited. And if the tournament organizers don't invite our team, there really isn't too much that can be done, unless the Canadian squad plans to show up in Portugal, kick down the doors of the stadium and just run onto the pitch (not recommended).

    Of course, things have changed since I began making these yearly rants. The world of women's soccer has gone in the exact opposite direction of the rest of the economic world -- its middle class has been getting bigger and better. While Canada made it to the final of each of the first six editions of the Cyprus Cup (2008-2013), winning it thrice, we found ourselves scratching it out against Ireland (FIFA rank #29) in the fifth-place game at last year's tournament.

    This year's group, which sees #9-ranked Canada against Italy (#14), South Korea (#17) and Scotland (#21) is an interesting collection of what we'd call Tier II teams. Yes, it flies in the face of the "Canada is going to make the World Cup final on home turf wheeeeeee" narrative spewed by those who've only ever watched the team play in the Olympic semifinals and finals. But the way things are going, with new powerhouses such as Japan and France leaving Canada in the dust, maybe the Cyprus Cup is our comfort zone after all.

    So, get comfortable. Get back on top of the Cyprus Cup mountain. Win the dang thing and take that momentum into the World Cup.


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