The Canadian national women’s soccer team kicks off its 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign on June 10 against Cameroon. TSN will profile Canada’s 23 players in the 23 days leading up to their tournament opener.
Hometown: London, Ont.
Club: UCLA (NCAA)
Despite just being 21, Jessie Fleming already has 64 appearances and 52 starts to her name. In many ways, she is already considered a veteran of Canada, and actually wore the captain’s armband on a few different occasions during friendlies in 2017.
Many have called her the future of Canada, and over the past few years, she has taken control of the Canadian midfield with her intellect, technical skill and playmaking ability.
Fleming made her debut with the senior team when she was just 15, subbing into a game against China on Dec. 15, 2013. One week later, she earned her first career start against Scotland. As a teenager, Fleming was also a star track athlete and she still holds the OFSAA record in the midget girls’ 1,500 metres (she beat the former record by nearly eight seconds). Fleming was forced to give up track in 2014 as her soccer career took off.
While she was getting regular call-ups to the senior team, Fleming was also involved in the Canadian youth levels. At 16, she played for Canada at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, reaching the quarter-finals, and was also captain of the Under-17 squad at the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. She helped lead Canada out of the group of death featuring Germany, North Korea and Ghana, scoring a memorable goal off a free kick against the Germans.
Just over a year later at the age of 17, she was named to the roster for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She subbed into Canada’s first game against China and was a starter against the Netherlands.
That same summer, she also represented Canada at the Pan American Games, and scored the lone Canadian goal in a 2-1 loss to Mexico in the bronze-medal match.
In 2016, Fleming truly cemented herself in the Canadian lineup, especially during the Rio Olympics, where she helped her country earn bronze. She started all six of Canada’s games and played all 90 minutes of the three matches in the knockout round. She hasn’t come off the bench since a friendly against Brazil on June 4, 2016, starting in each of her last 37 appearances. She was the Canadian Under-20 player of the year from 2015 to 2017, even though she last played with the U-20 team in 2014.
Just over a week after winning Olympic bronze, Fleming started her collegiate career with UCLA. She finished her freshman season as the team’s leading scorer with 11 goals and 27 points. She was one of just two freshmen to earn All-American honours that year, and was also named to the first-team All-Pac-12 and the Pac-12 All-Freshman.
The following season, Fleming recorded six goals and eight assists, and helped UCLA reach the College Cup final, scoring a goal in the championship match. She earned First-team All-American honours, and was selected as a finalist for the MAC Hermann trophy as the top collegiate player in the country, losing to American Andi Sullivan.
Fleming plays with a wisdom and level-headedness beyond her years. She thrives with the ball at her feet, and her vision, awareness, and creativity are among her biggest assets. Head coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller has been using Fleming in more of an attacking role and attempting to get her closer to goal. In 2018, she recorded three goals and two assists for Canada, her most in both categories in a calendar year.