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Canada Soccer to honour Sinclair, Schmidt and McLeod at friendly in B.C.

Christine Sinclair Sophie Schmidt Canada Christine Sinclair Sophie Schmidt - The Canadian Press

Captain Christine Sinclair won't be the only player in the spotlight when Canada hosts Australia in Victoria and Vancouver next month.

Veteran goalkeeper Erin McLeod and midfielder Sophie Schmidt, who have also called time on their international careers, are also being honoured at the Dec. 5 Vancouver game.

The three have a combined 772 caps and have helped Canada climb the podium at three Olympics, winning bronze in London and Rio and gold in Tokyo.

The friendly at B.C. Place Stadium, which comes four days after the 10th-ranked Canadians face the 11th-ranked Matildas at Starlight Stadium in Langford, B.C., will serve as the curtain call on Sinclair's decorated international career. More than 35,000 tickets have already been sold for the Vancouver game.

The 40-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., world soccer's all-time leading scorer with 190 goals from 329 senior appearances, announced in October that she was retiring from international football. The B.C. games, taking place in her backyard, mark her swan song as the Canadian women look ahead to defending their Olympic title in Paris next July.

"It's going to be an emotional night," said Canada coach Bev Priestman. "And I think we have to embrace that.

"As a coach, Paris '24 and everything, that's where my mind, my heart, my tactics goes. But that night at B.C. Place, of course, we'll be trying to move (in) that direction but at the same time no player is going to want to let that game just be a nothing game. They're going to want to put everything out there for the three people that have given everything for so long."

Sinclair, who plans to play one more season for the NWSL Portland Thorns, has already experienced some emotional moments. Priestman said the captain took time out after playing Brazil last month to meet a young female fan recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.

"Sinc, of course, is going to remember the medals, the big moments, scoring the goals, doing it with her friends." said Priestman. "But I also think you take these moments in at the back end of your career and you realize the impact that you've actually had on individuals' lives."

Canada Soccer said Schmidt, who continues to play for the NWSL Houston Dash, will join the team for the Vancouver game. The 35-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., who has made 224 appearances for Canada, had previously said she would retire from international football after the World Cup.

"There was a strong feeling from her that she'd love to put her boots on one last time," said Priestman.

McLeod, who last played for Canada in October 2021, is not expected to dress for the game. The 40-year-old from Edmonton, who has won 119 caps, announced her international retirement in January but continues with her club in Iceland as a player/coach.

Priestman has announced a 25-player squad for the two December games, with a first senior call-up for Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Jeneva Hernandez Gray.

Earlier this month, the 17-year-old from Coquitlam, B.C., was named most promising female player at the Whitecaps Girls Elite Academy. She also helped Canada qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup.

"Jeneva was the standout in the last under-20 qualifiers," said Priestman, adding she continues to explore depth at defensive midfielder.

Veterans on the squad include Kadeisha Buchanan (138 caps), Ashley Lawrence (124), Jessie Fleming (121), Adriana Leon (103), Quinn (who goes by one name, 95), Nichelle Prince (94), Shelina Zadorsky (93) and Jordyn Huitema (71).

The roster also includes 19 year-old midfielder/forward Olivia Smith, 20-year-old defender Jade Rose and 20-year-old midfielder Simi Awujo.

Forward Janine Beckie (101 caps) and midfielder Desiree Scott (186) will join the team in B.C. as they continue their recovery from injury.

Deanne Rose and Emma Regan are unavailable through injury.

Australia blanked Canada 4-0 at the World Cup in their Group B finale Aug. 31 at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, sending the Canadian women home early after a disappointing campaign. The Matildas went on to finish fourth at the tournament, after losing 3-1 to England in the semifinal and 2-0 to Sweden in the third-place game.

Canada finished 21st in the 32-team tournament.

The Canadians have an 8-8-3 career record against Australia, winning away matches in Brisbane and Sydney in September 2022 before the World Cup. Five of the Canadian losses to Australia came before 2000.

Next up for Canada is the inaugural CONCACAF W Gold Cup in February in the U.S. Priestman hopes to have a camp ahead of the tournament.



Goalkeepers: Sabrina D’Angelo, Arsenal (England);​ Lysianne Proulx, Melbourne City (Australia); Kailen Sheridan, San Diego Wave ​(NWSL).

Defenders: Kadeisha Buchanan, Chelsea (England); Gabrielle Carle, Washington Spirit ​(NWSL); Sydney Collins, North Carolina Courage  ​(NWSL); Vanessa Gilles, Olympique Lyonnais (France); Ashley Lawrence, Chelsea (England); Jayde Riviere, Manchester United (England); Jade Rose, Harvard University (NCAA); Bianca St-Georges, Chicago Red Stars ​(NWSL); Shelina Zadorsky, Tottenham (England).

Midfielders: Simi Awujo, USC (NCAA); Jessie Fleming, Chelsea (England); Julia Grosso, Juventus (Italy); Jeneva Hernandez Gray, Vancouver Whitecaps (USL W-League); Quinn, OL Reign ​​(NWSL); Sophie Schmidt, Houston Dash ​(NWSL).

​Forwards: Jordyn Huitema, OL Reign ​(NWSL); Cloé Lacasse, Arsenal (England); Adriana Leon, Aston Villa ​ (England); Nichelle Prince, Houston Dash ​(NWSL); Christine Sinclair, Portland Thorns (NWSL); Olivia Smith, Sporting CP (Portugal); Evelyne Viens, AS Roma (Italy).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2023.

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