Canadian women gearing up for Dutch friendly


Canada's Christine Sinclair. (David J. Phillip/AP)

On the surface, Canada’s upcoming friendly versus the Netherlands may seem to be just a tune-up match for the Olympics in Rio. However, recent meetings between the Canadians and the Dutch have proven to be dramatic and intense.

Less than a year ago, Canada played Netherlands to a 1-1 in their final group stage game of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Over 45,420 were on hand at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium to see Ashley Lawrence net her first goal as a member of the senior squad at the 10 minute mark. Canada held that lead until veteran Kirsten van de Ven beat Erin McLeod with a top corner shot late to tie it up. The result was enough that both teams advanced to the knockout stage of the tournament.

“The Netherlands are a strong team and have made significant progress since the FIFA Women’s World Cup, rising through the rankings with wins over both France and Japan,” Canadian coach John Herdman said in a statement. “We expect the match against the Netherlands will be very difficult, but our team has developed momentum this year and will be up for the challenge.”

For Canada, 12 players who suited up in that World Cup match last June are headed to the Netherlands this week in hopes of seeing minutes on April 10 at Jan Louwers Stadion in Eindhoven. The newcomers include goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo, defenders Rebecca Quinn and Shelina Zadorsky, along with midfielder Deanne Rose and forwards Janine Beckie, Gabrielle Carle and Nichelle Prince.

The most significant absence is in goal, as McLeod is out for an undisclosed period of time due to an ACL injury she suffered with her club in Sweden, FC Rosengård, during UEFA Champions League play on March 23.

At the 2013 Cyprus Cup, McLeod earned a clean sheet and was spectacular versus the Dutch in Canada’s 1-0 victory. She was named player of the game after stopping an early Lieke Martens penalty kick and made a clutch save late to preserve the win.

When it comes to her knee injury, Canada Soccer has stated 33-year-old McLeod is still weighing her options on how to proceed.

Other players who have excelled versus the Dutch include captain Christine Sinclair. In 10 meetings, she’s netted five goals. Of other active players, Diana Matheson is next in line with two.

Canada has faced the Netherlands 11 times with a record of 8-3-0.

Canadians in National Women’s Soccer League update
• Rookie Janine Beckie has been a standout for the Houston Dash in pre-season, thanks to a two-goal effort versus Oregon State University and another against Portland Thorns FC.

• Josée Bélanger is playing as an attacking fullback, rather than a striker or midfielder, for the Orlando Pride, while teammate Kaylyn Kyle has taken a leadership role and has worn the captain’s armband during exhibition action.

• Both goalkeepers, Stephanie Labbe (Washington) and Sabrina D’Angelo (Western New York), have seen minutes.

• While captain Christine Sinclair hasn’t found the back of the net yet, she’s been a tremendous playmaker thus far for Portland. Could Thorns FC coach Mark Parsons be pegging Sinclair as the team’s no. 10? We’ll monitor it when the regular season begins on the weekend of April 16-17.

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