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Countdown to FIFA: Team Canada’s top Canucks to watch

By Dylan Barnabe on April 22, 2015

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As a countdown to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Apartment613 is embarking on a six-part series that will take a look at women’s soccer in and around the city. With less than 50 days until the tournament begins, we decided to take a look at Team Canada’s top Canucks in 2015.

Since their stunning bronze medal performance at the 2012 Summer Olympic in London, Team Canada has been hard at work to prepare for this summer’s international showdown. Though they suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to the United States in the semi-finals, the team’s hard work and dedication won over fans worldwide and put Canada firmly on the map—and captain Christine Sinclair on Canada’s Walk of Fame. Today, under the watchful eye of coach John Herdman, the team is faster, stronger and more agile than ever before. In fact, it’s mindboggling to even imagine that once upon a time these Canucks finished last place in the 2011 World Cup.

A mere four years later, Team Canada is set to return to the stage as one of the top teams in the world. In June, the team will begin its quest for gold against the People’s Republic of China—and you can bet coach Herdman will be turning to his top players to lead the charge.

But who are Canada’s major movers and shakers? Though the roster won’t be officially revealed until April 27, we thought we’d weigh in our picks for this summer. For those of you unfamiliar with the titans of Team Canada, we’ve outlined this summer’s top players to watch.

 

Christine Sinclair

Photo from Christine Sinclair's Twitter page.

Photo from Christine Sinclair’s Twitter page.

Christine has been one of the world’s best female soccer players for more than a decade and was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2013. Though already plenty popular at home, her hat trick against the United States during the semifinals of the 2012 Summer Olympics cemented her reputation as one of Canada’s great sports heroes. Christine had her debut with the national team at 16 and has put in 217 starts. Christine is especially dangerous in front of the net with a record 153 goals for her country. Her passion for the game is unparalleled (her coach calls her the “Rolls Royce” of players—all class) and, as captain, she will lead the team in this year’s quest for gold.

Melissa Tancredi

Fun fact: Melissa holds the record for the second-fastest goal in World Cup history (just 37 seconds) scored during the 2007 World Cup in China. Since starting with the team in 2004, she’s established herself as a strong player with an attacking mindset. Watch for her to make a splash this summer as a key component of Canada’s offensive game. Off the pitch, Melissa greatly values her education and holds a Doctorate of Chiropractic degree and a Masters in Sports Science and Rehabilitation.

Jonelle Filingo

This 25-year-old powerhouse has moved on from her old nickname of “supersub” (after her ability to come off the bench and score) to much greater heights as she helps bolster Canada’s offensive line. She’s one of the younger players on the team, but prides herself on her mental game. Jonelle is always looking to improve her skills and find the back of the net.

Jessie Fleming

While many of her fellow teammates are well into their 20s and 30s, Jessie is the youngest player on the team at 17. If she is named to the roster this month, then the tournament will mark her first World Cup appearance. Jessie is a skilled midfielder and relatively new to the team with only 10 starts. She’ll have the opportunity to prove herself on the world stage this summer and playmaking skills to the next level. Team Canada’s breakout star? Time will tell.

 

Erin McLeod / Karina LeBlanc

Photo from Karina LeBlanc's Twitter page.

Photo from Karina LeBlanc’s Twitter page.

Both of these keepers get special mention as they are top notch. Erin has 100 starts for Team Canada and is known for her steady performances in net. She has excellent positional play and has a knack for when to come off her line. If Karina gets the starting position in goal, it will mark her fifth World Cup appearance. She was 18 when she made her debut for Team Canada and has since had 101 starts for the national team. The 35-year-old keeper is known for her energy and enthusiasm, but also her wicked saves.

As for the odds of seeing these stars up close and personal in Ottawa this summer? If the Canadians can place second in the group round and win their round-of-16 match, they could play at TD Place in the quarterfinal.

Stay tuned for part four in the series. Catch up on parts one and two.

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