Canadian teenager Smith turns pro, signs with Portugal's Sporting CP
Olivia Smith, the youngest member of Canada's Women's World Cup squad, has signed with Portugal's Sporting CP.
The 18-year-old from Whitby, Ont., played for Penn State last year but announced before the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand that she planned to leave school and turn pro.
Sporting CP said Smith has signed through 2025.
Smith, who can play both forward and attacking midfielder, was on the bench Friday for seventh-ranked Canada's scoreless draw with No. 40 Nigeria at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.
Smith was an unexpected addition to the Canadian team at the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
Originally invited to the pre-tournament camp as a training player, she played her way onto the final 23-woman squad.
"To be honest, she's been absolutely outstanding," Canada coach Bev Priestman said in naming her roster. "I can tell the players are blown away with her impact coming in.
"I don't want to put any pressure on Olivia. She's got nothing to lose. She's got a massive future. She's only 18 and we're invested in the future. But she very much earned this call-up. It wasn't a given because of age or what she can be. She very much has held her own in this environment ... She was exciting from the minute she came in."
Smith follows fellow Canadian Cloe Lacasse to the Portuguese women's league. Lacasse, also at the World Cup, won titles with Benfica and was named the Portugal league's top player before signing with England's Arsenal in late June.
Smith was 12 when she made her debut in the Canadian youth program in 2017 under Priestman, eventually scoring 24 goals at youth level, second only to Christine Sinclair (27).
Smith was 15 when she made her senior debut in November 2019, becoming Canada’s youngest senior debutante. That same year she was named Canada Soccer’s Young Player of the Year.
Sporting, based in Lisbon, is also home to Canadian forward Chandra Davidson. The club finished runner-up to Benfica in last season's league table.
Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2023.