Tag Archives: Canada

CanWNT announces Four Nations Tournament roster

The Canadian Women’s National Team is kicking off the 2013 season with the Yongchuan Cup – Four Nations Women’s Tournament. Head coach John Herdman selected a 21-player travel roster, announced Friday afternoon. Players will travel to China on Sunday, January 6.

Similar to the December 2012 camp, Herdman is integrating a number of younger players into the senior team set-up in strategizing a possession-focused tactical shift. He told media, “We are trying to achieve a style of play and performance that the country can really enjoy and be proud of. We have identified some gaps in our performances and we need to begin exploring the changes that will allow us to close those gaps”.

More specifically, Herdman wants the team to “improve our width in attack; possession; ability to control a game”.

The roster is led by 12 players from last summer’s Olympic bronze medal winning team. Notably absent is forward Melissa Tancredi, who is focusing on completing chiropractic college in St. Louis, Missouri. Captain Christine Sinclair is training and traveling with the team, but not competing as she will be serving part of her four-game suspension.

Among the seven uncapped players are youngsters Kadeisha Buchanan, Ashley Lawrence and Nichelle Prince of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan 2012 team; Adriana Leon, Christabel Oduro and Shelina Zadorsky, who represented Canada at the  FIFA U-20 WWC Japan 2012; and Tiffany Cameron from the FIFA U-17 WWC New Zealand 2008 team.

Herdman is adamant that style and personnel changes are a necessary means to an end of establishing the desired style of play of Canada, currently the FIFA ranked 7th best team in the world. “We need to take a step back from winning in the immediate. We need to focus on evolving our footy DNA”. Herdman believes that Canada has the talent to compete against the top teams in the world, but the numbers of such players need to grow.

Staged at the Yongchuan Olympic Centre from January 12-16, the round-robin Four Nations Tournament features hosts China, along with Canada, South Korea and Norway.

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Top Ten CanWNT Related Moments of 2012

2012 can be looked back upon as a marquee year for the Canadian Women’s National Team. What began with tempered expectations of the team’s potential success as a result of their ill fated 2011 Women’s World Cup exploded into media and fan frenzy as the nation was captured by their valiant Olympic semi-final battle with the United States. A bronze medal later, the team’s earned new found supporters, praises and accolades, and have made a steady stream of public appearances.

Let’s revisit some of the biggest moments of the past year.

#10: A bevy of post-Olympic appearances

Players have been busy since the summer making appearances at various events. Whether it’s for being interviewed or honoured, or signing autographs, or promoting products or the sport, we can agree that it’s nice seeing them getting more attention.

For instance, Karina LeBlanc has been making regular appearances on CityTV Vancouver’s Breakfast Television doing Bachelor Canada recaps. LeBlanc, Christine Sinclair and Sophie Schmidt recently chatted with BT with a quick mention of a documentary that the team is filming. Sinclair currently has a television commercial for Tide Sport playing nationwide and is being featured in Nike promotional materials. Players have also been making appearances at Canadian Olympic Committee events, charity events and soccer clinics across the country.

And, thanks to social media, a number of boundlessly entertaining memes and multi-media came to fruition throughout 2012. On Twitter, there were popular hashtags like #NorwegianRef and #SinclairDay (not to forget Chuck Norris “facts” from the 2011 WWC); Diana Matheson finally opened a Twitter account (@dmatheson8) and graced the world with her banter and sense of humour. Via YouTube, more evidence of Sophie Moments (i.e. moments when Schmidt trips or does something silly) came to light. The bronze medal game itself produced a number of powerful images of hugs, pure bliss and medal glory.

#9: British Columbia loses two W-League teams

If there was a Canadian club team that you’d dub as having one of the biggest impacts on the CanWNT, it might just be the Vancouver Whitecaps of the USL W-League. However, on December 7, the Whitecaps announced that they wouldn’t field a team for the 2013 season, citing the formation of the new professional league in the US as a major factor behind the decision. It appears that the Whitecaps had interest in joining the new league, “but president Bob Lenarduzzi said the timing wasn’t right”.

Since their inaugural season in 2001, then known as the Vancouver Breakers, the Whitecaps women went to win two league titles (2004 and 2006) while fielding high caliber players and developing Canadian talent, including 14 of the 21 players on the 2012 Olympic squad.

To compound the loss, the Victoria Highlanders announced on December 20 that they too would be pulling out of the 2013 W-League season, although remaining in the lower tier Pacific Coast Soccer League. Founded in 2010, the Highlanders featured a number of local talent, such as Stephanie Parker, Lindsay Hoetzel, Shannon Elder, Nathalie Scharf among others from the University of Victoria Vikes.

With the demise of the western Canadian teams (and roster spots for young players), the remaining W-League clubs in the country are concentrated in Ontario and Quebec, including the Hamilton FC Rage, Laval Coments, London Gryphons, Ottawa Fury, Quebec City Amiral and Toronto Lady Lynx.

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2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Host Cities

The Hon. Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport) and Joseph Blatter, FIFA President

The Hon. Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport) and Joseph Blatter, FIFA President. Photo by the Canadian Soccer Association

The six 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada official host cities were announced May 4th, including Edmonton, AB (Commonwealth Stadium); Moncton, NB (Stade Moncton 2010); Montreal, QC (Saputo Stadium); Ottawa, ON (Frank Clair Stadium); Vancouver, BC (BC Place) and Winnipeg, MB (Investors Group Field).

The inaugural WWC in China 1991 featured 12 teams. After expanding to 16 teams and 32 matches for USA 1999, Canada will be first to host 24 teams in a 52 match schedule.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter spoke at the press conference in Parliament Hill and boasted that the 2015 WWC will be the “biggest international event for Canada, even [compared] to the Olympics.”

Seven cities were included in the initial bid process, but Halifax opted out in March due to funding issues related to building a new stadium. Three years prior, the City of Halifax announced a $100,000 feasibility study of the proposed project.

Toronto, on the other hand, will not host due to 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games commitments, which were awarded to the city in 2009, two years prior to the WWC bid submission. The PanAms will run from July 10-26, which overlaps with the WWC’s expected mid-June to mid-July schedule. Local stakeholders, such as Tourism Toronto, elected not to submit a WWC bid.

The press conference was hosted by former Canadian Women’s National Team member Kara Lang, and Canadian Soccer Association Long-Term Player Development Manager and former WNT coach Sylvie Béliveau. They spoke about the impact of hosting a WWC on boy’s and girls’ youth soccer.

FIFA reports that 29 million women and girls around the world play soccer, including 350,000 in Canada.

“It’s beneficial for [soccer] in Canada to spread the game from coast-to-coast, the first time that it’s ever happened,” said Jason de Vos from TSN studios in Toronto. “If you spread [the matches] from coast to coast, you give young players from around the country an opportunity to see live international football, the best players in the women’s game on Canadian soil.”

In 2011, TSN became the official Canadian broadcaster of FIFA soccer (rights from 2015 to 2022). Broadcasting rights were held in previous years by CBC.

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Three Spring Friendlies Announced for Canada, New Umbro Kits & U-20 WWC Berth

Photo by the Canadian Soccer Association

International Friendlies

Three friendlies, including one at home, have been announced as a part of the Canadian Women’s National Team’s preparations for the 2012 London Olympics.

Canada will face Brazil on neutral grounds March 24 in Foxborough, Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium, home of MLS’ New England Revolution. The venue seems like an improbable choice given the cost and the Revolution’s 4PM ET home opener against the Portland Timbers, but all has been confirmed.

Since July 2008, Canada and Brazil have drawn in their last five matches. On two of those occasions Canada claimed championship titles, first, as goal differentials at the 2010 Torneio Internacional Cidade de São Paulo were in Canada’s favour. It was this memorable stunner by Christine Sinclair that sealed the title. Then, at the 2011 Pan American Games, a 1-1 tie in regulation was finally settled in penalty kicks with Canada taking it 4-3.

Canada and Sweden will then meet March 31 at 2PM local time in Malmö, Sweden. This past week, Sweden finished in fourth place at the Algarve Cup in Portugal following a 4-0 loss to the USA. In Canada and Sweden’s most recent matches against one another, each side has won three. Their latest encounter was a 2-1 friendly win by Canada November 22, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Canada will host China May 30 at Stade Moncton 2010 Stadium in Moncton, New Brunswick, which is a potential host venue for the 2014 FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Canada/China friendly will kick-off at 8PM local time, 9PM ET. Ticket sales and other details will be announced in early April.

The match against China marks the first home friendly since September 30, 2010 when Canada posted a 3-1 victory at BMO Field in Toronto, which was also against China. Canada most recently played six competitive matches at home in Vancouver, British Columbia during the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifiers.

As noted by the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA), it just so happens that all three opponents in this series of friendlies have been runner-ups at the FIFA Women’s World Cup (China – 1999, Sweden – 2003 and Brazil – 2007).

In between friendlies, a portion of the CanWNT will be in residency camp for two weeks in Vancouver from April 13 to 27. Players who have signed with clubs will remain with their respective teams while only unattached players will be in camp.

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The CanWNT Year in Review

For better or for worse, many things happened over the course of 2011 for the Canadian Women’s National Team. Let’s take a look at what transpired:

Kara Lang’s Retirement

A promising career came to an end when Kara Lang announced her retirement from club and international soccer [watch here] on January 5. The then 24 year-old had suffered two ACL tears in her right knee, first in 2006 and again in 2009. Lang weighed her options for managing the pain in her knee in order to continue playing, but the ultimate decision was the best choice for her long-term health as knee replacement surgery, a lifetime of arthritis and continual use of anti-inflammatory drugs were potential aspects of her future.

Arguably one of the most well known figures of the CanWNT, Lang initially gained recognition as a 15 year-old on Canada’s U-19 Women’s World Cup team that finished in second place in 2002 and as the youngest player to suit up for the senior national team. She went on to represent Canada at the 2003 Women’s World Cup where they achieved their best ever result finishing fourth overall, as well as at the 2007 WWC and the WNT’s first Olympic appearance in Beijing 2008. With her apt for scoring goals from distance, the midfielder/striker rounded out her career with 34 goals in 92 caps.

Lang continues to have an active post-soccer career. She’s appeared as an analyst on Rogers Sportsnet for the 2011 WWC and hosts Rogers TV’s Your World This Week. Lang is also a yoga instructor at Shunyata Yoga, while being the Technical Director of Street Soccer Canada and coaching Toronto’s Street Soccer women’s team.

All White Kit caught up with Lang in August as she helped to raise money for Athletes for Africa’s Rock the Pitch Charity Soccer Tournament.

Yongchuan Cup Four Nations Tournament

The 2011 season began in China January 21-25. Late heroics by a tandem of veteran strikers made Canada’s opening match against the host country one of the most exciting of the year. After trailing by 2 goals through the first 45 minutes, Melissa Tancredi cut the score in half in the 56′ before assisting Sinclair’s equalizer in the 80′. The duo combined again in the 94′ for the game winner by Sinclair.

In the following game, the CanWNT’s 11 game unbeaten streak (9 wins, 2 draws) came to an end with a 2-1 loss to the USWNT. Lauren Cheney opened the scoring in the 54′ while Tancredi answered back just two minutes later. Lindsay Tarpley’s goal in the 71′ would prove to be the difference maker [watch here].

The tournament concluded against Sweden where Sinclair proved that she’s gotten leaner and faster within the past couple of years. Latching on to a clearing header by Emily Zurrer, Sinclair outran three Swedish defenders to slot in her third goal of the tournament [watch here]. With Canada and the US tied in wins, the latter was awarded first place for holding the head-to-head advantage, while Sinclair claimed the MVP award.

Carolina Morace vs. the CSA: Round 1

Well, on the bright side, at least this bit of news appeared on the front page of The Globe & Mail’s sports section, right?

On February 4, Carolina Morace announced her intentions to resign as head coach of the CanWNT upon the conclusion of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, citing differences in her vision for the program from that of the Canadian Soccer Association’s. One such disagreement stemmed from Morace’s desire for greater budgetary control.

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The CanWNT Announces Olympic Qualifying Roster

With approximately one month until the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifiers kicks off in Vancouver, B.C., the Canadian Women’s National Team announced their 20-player roster earlier this week.

Head coach John Herdman retains a core group of players who have anchored the team for the past several years, including 16 players who suited up for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 14 who brought home Pan American gold in October. The veteran experience matters, but it’s also “about picking the players that would be performing the best at that time” given the must-win situation having to place in the top two of the tournament in order to qualify for next year’s London Olympics.

Herdman admitted that Qualifiers isn’t “one of those events where you can start testing and developing players,” but 21 year-old Chelsea Buckland was impressive enough during November’s training camp to earn a roster spot for her first Senior National Team competition. “She moves well, the timing of her movement is good and she reads the game well,” Herdman said of the redshirt junior from Oregon State University.

Rutgers University’s Amélia Pietrangelo, 18, and University of Iowa’s Alyscha Mottershead, 20, were both on the cusp of making the final roster. Herdman described Pietrangelo’s situation as “pretty unlucky not to have been named to the squad,” and added that Mottershead “is another who’s shown some aptitude at this level.”

Perhaps the most surprising omission from the roster is centre back Emily Zurrer. Despite her youth, the 24 year-old University of Illinois graduate recently earned her 50th cap in November’s friendly against Sweden. Herdman said the cut was “a tough decision… She’s been a key player in the Canadian setup for the last few years. Mentally and emotionally, for her and for the team, it’s been a tough call.”

Injuries have stalled the hopes of competing at Olympic Qualifying for two players. Left back Marie-Eve Nault trained with the team in December after returning from surgery in the fall, but didn’t make the final roster. Jonelle Filigno strained her right Achilles’ tendon in September when Rutgers University hosted Villanova. The striker underwent surgery earlier this month.

Herdman maintains that Olympic roster spots, should Canada qualify, remain open to any such players who are currently on the outside looking in. He described the Olympic Qualifying roster as a “short-term decision” and expects everyone to compete in the coming months.

The CanWNT (and fans, for that matter) can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Diana Matheson is back in the fold. The ever industrious midfielder had surgery in November for an “ongoing problem” that had worsened over the course of 2011. Herdman admitted that Matheson’s recovery time will be “tight”, but he hopes that the medical team will have her fit and ready for the start of the tournament.

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Canada Brings Home Pan American Gold

Mexsport; CSA

That title has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? The Canadian Women’s National Team captured the top prize at the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico by defeating Brazil in dramatic fashion. Following a come-from-behind 1-1 draw in regulation and a scoreless overtime, Canada struck gold with penalty kicks, 4-3.

Twenty year-old Debora opened the scoring just 4 minutes into the match. The Brazilian striker headed towards three Canadian defenders and was given an excess of space to dribble up field before unleashing a top corner beauty from outside the box.

Canada was able to stay in the game thanks to a series of critical saves by Karina LeBlanc, especially late in regulation time when Brazil began peppering the Canadian net. Brazil outshot Canada 22-13, while Canada maintained 57% of possession.

As the clock ticked away, it appeared that Brazil was on its way to claiming another PanAm gold medal. However, like the 2011 Women’s World Cup quarter-finals against the USA, Brazil was undone late in the game by an equalizer off a header. This time it was at the mercy of Christine Sinclair being her usual clutch self. Canada won a corner kick in the 88th minute and Diana Matheson sent in a perfectly struck ball. Sinclair circled around goalkeeper Barbara to head it in with ease and forced the game into overtime.

But 30 minutes was not enough to break the deadlock between the teams, so the dreaded, heart wrenching penalty kicks were to settle the score.

Matheson converted the first Canadian PK with confidence, as did Francielle for Brazil. Upon the second round, Barbara was in a rage when she got a glove on Sinclair’s shot, but it wasn’t enough to keep it out of the net. Maurine and Melanie Booth were both successful in their respective shots from the mark. Canada took the lead following Brazil’s third PK when Grazielle placed her attempt up the middle for an easy stop by LeBlanc. Sophie Schmidt put Canada ahead once again and Ketlen answered back. It was 4-3 heading into the fifth set of PKs; things got momentarily tense for Canada while Brazil saw a glimmer of hope when Candace Chapman’s strike rattled the right sided post. The next kicker, Debora, had an opportunity to play hero for Brazil once again if she could tie up the results, but LeBlanc guessed the right direction to make her second PK save and secure first place.

Watch highlights of the final, Canada vs. Brazil, Brazil’s medal ceremony, Canada celebrating the win and the gold medal ceremony.

The win marks Canada’s first PanAm gold in women’s soccer, and John Herdman’s first tournament win since taking over the team in September. Canada previusly claimed fourth (1999), second (2003) and third place (2007) since the sport was included in the PanAm Games 12 years earlier. Brazil had won back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2007, and with the absence of any US team, it appeared to be theirs for the taking. Alas, it was yet another second place finish (see: the Women’s World Cup, Olympic Games and Torneio Internacional Cidade de São Paulo).

2015 will be a marquee year for the Canadian Women’s National Team with the Women’s World Cup being staged across Canada from June 26-July 17 and PanAm Toronto July 10-26. The overlap makes it highly unlikely that the senior team will be able to defend their title as the reigning PanAm Women’s Soccer champions. But with that aside, the build up in the next 4 years will be exciting times for the sport in the country. Whether it’ll be about seeking World Cup redemption or potentially instilling confidence in our youth team to represent us at the PanAms in place of the full squad, it’s all taking place in Canada. There’s no better feeling than playing (and winning) on home soil, right?

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USWNT vs. CanWNT: Wambach & Morgan were Left Unmarked and Made Canada Pay

The United States concluded their post-2011 Women’s World Cup Celebration Series tour against Canada with a 3-0 victory. Both friendlies were played in front of incredible crowds; Megan Rapinoe joked earlier in the week that the fanfare has been like if the WWC runner-ups had actually won the title.  18,570 strong serenaded the team with chants of “U-S-A” at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Oregon, as did 16,191 at the first friendly in Kansas City, Kansas last Saturday (1-1 draw).

Similar to the previous game, the USWNT lined up in a new 4-2-3-1. As promised, Pia Sundhage featured all 21 players over the two friendlies, a full strength roster from the WWC. Notably in the starting XI, the experiment with Amy Rodriguez as a left winger continued, while Shannon Boxx and Lori Lindsey replaced Carli Lloyd and Lauren Cheney as holding midfielders. Stephanie Cox stepped in for Amy LePeilbet and Becky Sauerbrunn slide over from her usual role in central defence to the outside right.

John Herdman, who is playing without two of Canada’s regular starters Christine Sinclair and Candace Chapman, switched from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 and made two changes to his starting lineup from the first friendly, with Lexi Marton in place of Emily Zurrer and Karina LeBlanc in goal for Erin McLeod. Herdman’s fourth ‘keeper, 22 year-old Justine Bernier, was the only one of the 22 player roster not to see playing time. New talent was introduced as three players received their first senior caps during the two friendlies.

The US peppered the Canadian 18-yard box with dangerous crosses and well paced shots throughout the match, but were upstaged by great Canadian goalkeeping from Karina LeBlanc in the first half and Stephanie Labbé in the second.

Canada was kept deep on defensive duties for much of the game, but Melissa Tancredi got an early opportunity when she fended off a couple defenders before sending the ball over the net.

LeBlanc made her first of several great saves in the 17th minute. Abby Wambach started the play when she blocked Sophie Schmidt’s cross, which fell to Rapinoe. She was able to advance the ball up field before laying it off to Wambach, whose ensuing cross was met by an unmarked Rodriguez.  Her side-footed shot from point blank range was denied by a one-handed save.

About 10 minutes later, Heather O’Reilly led the charge forward when she beat Diana Matheson to send in a cross. Lauren Sesselmann was in a great position to block Christie Rampone’s initial shot. Her far post rebound was grabbed in the air by LeBlanc, who then sparked the Canadian attack with her goal kick. The bouncing ball eluded Rachel Buehler and fell favourably for Tancredi. Her header into space allowed her to turn and shoot, but the low bouncing ball went just wide to the right of Hope Solo.

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The USWNT & CanWNT Battled in a Scrappy 1-1 Draw

The first of the two-game friendly series between the United States and Canada resulted in a 1-1 draw in front of a near capacity crowd of 16,191 packed into Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Boisterous fans created a lively atmosphere to welcome home their Women’s World Cup heroes, whose performance in this summer’s tournament ignited interest all over the US. Of the three friendlies played at home in 2011 prior to the WWC, two took place in comparatively large stadiums, like Red Bull Arena (25,000 capacity) and Columbus Crew Stadium (20,000 capacity), but had only managed to draw attendance merely in the 5,000s.

The situation for both teams couldn’t be more different: the USWNT was playing with the exact same group who recently propelled themselves to newfound celebrity status, and a coach whose unwavering loyalty to a particular formation and players have drawn cries for change and ingenuity from fans and commentators alike; in contrast, the CanWNT was playing under a new coaching staff following a sorrowful WWC with new players and new tactics.

September 17 was to be a battle of old and new. Yet, surprisingly, both teams stepped onto the pitch to test new strategies.

Pia Sundhage implemented a 4-2-3-1 for the match, a departure from her favoured 4-4-2.  The USWNT coach expressed her hopes of adding another dimension of unpredictability to the attack. Sundhage experimented by moving Lauren Cheney and Carli Lloyd, both of whom normally occupy more offensive roles, back to act as deep-lying midfielders. She was quick to point out that the pair would be “possession midfielders” as opposed to holding midfielders. Still in search for the team’s true No. 10, the Swede had Megan Rapinoe assume that role in the starting XI. The new formation was to emphasize play in the centre of midfield, but the US still found the most success attacking from the wings, especially in the first half.

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CanWNT Roster vs. USWNT & News on PanAm, CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifiers, SportsNet

John Herdman will make his Canadian Women’s National Team coaching debut against the team’s most formidable rival, the USA. “It is a derby, so it is always a massive match,” said the 36 year-old coach.

The first match up takes place today, September 17, at Livestrong Sporting Park, home to MLS’ Sporting Kansas City in Kansas City, Kansas live on Fox Soccer Channel (7pm ET, 4pm PT). They face off again on Thursday, September 22 in Portland, Oregon at the Portland Timber’s Jeld-Wen Field live on ESPN2 and ESPN3 (11pm ET, 8pm PT).

Preparation for the two friendlies mark the first time both teams have regrouped since their polarizing results at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany. The USWNT (World No. 1) bounced back from its pre-tournament woes to play thrilling matches against Brazil in the quarter-finals and the eventual champions, Japan, in the final.

The “Celebration Series” tour features players exclusively from this summer’s WWC roster. Midfielder Shannon Boxx is expected to miss today’s game due to family commitments, but will be available for Thursday’s friendly. Despite goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart being seen wearing a medical boot recently, she appears to be training with the team.

Canada (ranked No. 8), on the other hand, is in a rebuilding process following its shocking last place finish at the WWC. The sudden resignation of then head coach Carolina Morace and her staff in July, which included assistant coach and former CanWNT midfielder and captain Andrea Neil, left the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) with little time to find a replacement before the 2011 Pan American Games in October and 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifiers in January.

Herdman, who was born in England, was announced as the new Canadian head coach in early September. He previously spent 10 years working in New Zealand, with five years as the Women’s head coach and technical director, leading the Football Ferns to the 2007 and 2011 WWC, as well as the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and propelling them to No. 24 in the world.

Herdman got his first opportunity to reinvigorate the CanWNT, meet players and assess new talent when he named a 22-player roster for the 10 day camp, which includes 15 players who recently competed at this summer’s WWC.

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