The 2015 Women’s World Cup will be hosted right here in Canada and one of the contenders for the gold will be our very own Canadians.
Canada brings a roster full of players who were also the Olympic bronze medalists at London in 2012 and were a few calls away from going to the Olympic final. However, Canada will face stiff competition from other countries such as Germany, the United States and Brazil.
The goalkeeping duties for Team Canada will be handled by the duo Karina LeBlanc and Erin McLeod. The pair have combined for 214 appearances at the national level and are both very solid keepers for their club teams.
The top defender for the team is likely to be Rhian Wilkinson, who has 163 previous appearances. Wilkinson was also the 2007 Canadian Soccer Association’s Female Athlete of the Year. Kadeisha Buchanan is one of the up-and-coming stars of this Canadian team, as the 19-year-old already has 34 appearances, two goals and was one of the top players in the National Collegiate Athletics Association as a freshman.
The midfield is where the Canadians have most of their experience. Diana Matheson, Sophie Schmidt, Desiree Scott and the University of Saskatchewan’s very own Kaylyn Kyle combine for an amazing 481 games played and 36 goals for the red and white. Matheson is recovering from an ACL tear in October 2014 and as such is still questionable to play in the Women’s World Cup.
Christine Sinclair will be the engine that drives the Canadian team as she leads Canada with 222 games played as well as 153 goals. Sinclair also seems to excel during the big games, as she has 15 goals in her 22 combined Olympic and World Cup games. Most memorable of the those games was the London 2012 Olympic semifinal versus the Americans when Sinclair had three goals as she nearly willed the Canadians to an Olympic final before falling 4–3.
Germany will be one of Canada’s stiffest competition. The world’s number one ranked team is led by their goalkeeper and 2013 FIFA World Player of the Year Nadine Angerer. Angerer is well remembered amongst women’s soccer fans for shutting out every opponent she faced in the 2007 Women’s World Cup, going all 540 minutes without allowing a goal. Célia Šašić will lead the goal-scoring effort for the Germans as she has 57 goals in 103 appearances so far.
The U.S. has never finished worse than third at the Women’s World Cup and this year should be no different. The U.S. will be led by plenty of familiar faces such as defender Christie Rampone, goalkeeper Hope Solo and strikers Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan. Wambach is the all-time leading scorer for the Americans with 178 goals in 239 appearances. Solo will be heavily leaned on, as the other two goalkeepers on the roster have a combined seven appearances.
Brazil will be tough as always and players Marta and Cristiane will look to carry them to another strong finish. The two have a combined 165 goals in 198 games played. Marta is a five-time FIFA World Player of the Year and has been nominated 10 times. Cristiane was the top scorer at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. Brazil is the world number seven, but with two of the world’s best goal scorers they will be very difficult to defeat.
Canada drew a very favourable group as they will face world number 16 China, number 17 New Zealand and number 12 the Netherlands. Canada is 8–1–0 in their last three games against each of their first round opponents.
Canada will need to bring their “A” game, but a semifinal appearance is not out of the question for an experienced team like Canada.
Photo: flickr/Matt Boulton