Fresh Faces: Analyzing the 8 new names on the latest CanWNT/CanXNT roster for their November friendlies vs Mexico

Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team is getting set to play a pair of friendlies versus Mexico in Mexico this week. In this, we look at some of the new names in their 26-player roster for those games. 

Another window has come, and with it has come some new faces. 

Yet, that was expected for Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team, who are getting set to play a pair of friendlies against Mexico in Mexico later this week, coming as part of the November international window. 

Fresh off of winning gold at the Olympic summer games earlier this year, Canada already has a  solid core squad, one that is among the best in the world for a reason, but even the best teams go through changes, and that looks to be the case in Canada’s latest squad. 

With 4 of their 22 players that won gold this summer missing this camp due to injury or school commitments, that’s opened the door for some replacements to come in, and because of that, Canadian head coach Bev Priestman has called in 8 new players to her squad, helping more than make up the numbers. 

Obviously, the main goal of that is to ensure that Canada has enough players for this camp, but with qualifiers for the 2023 World Cup now less than a year away, too, this is also a great chance for Canada to start looking at some new faces ahead of then, allowing them to increase competition in their squad. 

So while the 22 players who donned the red and white this summer will have their names forever etched in history, it’ll be interesting to see who is able to stick around by the time those games come up next year. 

Because of that, it also makes it intriguing to learn more about those 8 new players who were called into this squad. 

From some who have been here a few times before, to some who haven’t been in a long time, as well as some who are coming in for the first time, this 8 player group is one filled with names who will look to stake their claim as names to watch for Canada going forward. 

And that’s going to be fun to monitor over this camp, as well as in future ones, too. 

As some might point out, complacency can be the biggest enemy to champions, so by calling in these fresh and hungry faces, Priestman is clearly looking to root out any complacency in this Canadian squad long before it sets in, which is a good thing. 

Plus, with this Canadian squad still firing all cylinders after the Olympics, these names will only add to what is clearly a pretty confident team right now, as they showed when they beat New Zealand twice in the October window, continuing a historic 12-game undefeated run. 

But speaking of those 8 new names once again, an important question remains – what can we expect from them in this camp? As Priestman mentioned last week, they’re not just there to make up the numbers, so it’s clearly pretty important to see what they can bring to the table. 

So seeing that, let’s dive in and find out more. 

GK- Sabrina D’Angelo | SWE / Vittsjö GIK

And to start, we begin in goal, where the 28-year-old Sabrina D’Angelo is back in the squad for the first time since June of this year, where she was among the final names in the goalkeeper battle for Canada’s Olympic roster. 

She ultimately didn’t make the cut, but that’s certainly by no fault of the 28-year-old, who remains a very solid goalkeeper, which just happens to be a position of strength for Canada. 

Despite becoming one of the best goalkeepers in the Swedish league for Vittsjo over the past few years, with Canada, she’s had to compete with the likes Stephanie Labbe, regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, as well as Kailen Sheridan, who is one of the best goalkeepers in the NWSL, and is regarded as Canada’s heir in goal. 

But the good news for D’Angelo is that her chance to become a regular for Canada could finally be on the horizon here. 

The 35-year-old Labbe looks close to retiring, something she hinted that she might do after this summer’s Olympics, and Canada’s 3rd goalkeeper this summer, the 38-year-old Erin McLeod, probably doesn’t have too many more years left in her, either. 

And if and when those things happen, after Sheridan, D’Angelo is likely the next in line to claim Labbe’s throne, which is why it’s so intriguing to see her make this roster. 

Having reached what is a prime age for goalkeepers, playing in a solid Swedish League where Labbe really made a name for herself, D’Angelo has as good as a shot as any to at least become Canada’s backup, if not the starter. 

And her play for Vittjso is a big example of why. 

This year, D’Angelo played all 22 of her club’s games as they finished 5th out of 12 teams in the Damallsvenskan, where they only missed 3rd place (and Champions League qualifiers) by a measly 3 points. And without D’Angelo, who helped them keep the 3rd-best defensive record in the league, that likely would’ve not been possible, which helps explain her inclusion in this latest Canada squad. 

So while D’Angelo might not immediately threaten Labbe as long as the Paris Saint Germain goalkeeper is still playing at a high level, she’s shown to at least be in the discission when that day does come, and if anything, could already have done enough to start earning calls as Canada’s 3rd goalkeeper behind Labbe and Sheridan as of now. 

She might not play this camp, as there are just 2 games, and 4 goalkeepers in the squad, but keep a close eye on her going forward, as she looks to add to her 5 starts (and 4 clean sheets) that she’s picked up for her country so far.  

CB- Jade Rose | USA / Harvard University

But while D’Angelo has been fighting for that goalkeeping spot for a while now, up next we’ve got a youngster who is just at the beginning of her soccer journey, and that’s the 18-year-old Rose, who is the second-youngest player on this Canadian roster. 

Despite that, though, this isn’t her first rodeo for Canada, as she’s earned multiple call-ups this year, in which she picked up her first 2 appearances for Canada, playing 2 very solid games against 2 good teams in Argentina and Brazil at She Believes Cup back in February. 

Along with her first call-up, which came back in 2019 when she was just 16, Rose has already been making waves for a while now, so it isn’t all that surprising to see her make a return to the Canadian fold this camp. 

Fresh off of a strong rookie year for Harvard, where despite her young age, she slotted in and played 15 games for the school, even scoring 2 goals, it just feels like her star is slowly rising, making her one to watch for the future. 

So while things didn’t go as planned for Harvard this season, as they got knocked out by Wake Forest in just the 1st round of the NCAA’s soccer tournament, it looks like Rose will be expected to be a core part of Harvard’s team for years to come, and that should lead to more minutes for Canada. 

But at the same time, because of how young she is, it makes it interesting to see where Rose fits into this Canadian team going forward. 

At a position where players tend to peak much later, Rose is already ahead of the curve of most centre backs, but she also happens to play in what is a position of strength for Canada, who have one of the centre back groups in the world with Kadeisha Buchanan, Vanessa Gilles and Shelina Zadorsky. 

Because of that, it makes it hard to see Rose earning a starting spot on this Canadian team for a while now, but the good news is that based on what we’ve seen from her, she’s A) got plenty of time to wait, and B), is a good backup option to have in the meantime. 

As she showed when she slotted in at She Believes Cup due to some COVID and injury-related absences, she can play at this level, but she just needs an opportunity, of which she’ll continue to battle for this camp. 

No matter what happens, though, keep an eye on her for the future, because even if that opportunity doesn’t come right away, she could very well break down the door and create it for herself, making her one to watch. 

FB- Marie Levasseur | FRA / Fleury FC

Moving over to full back, though, we’ve then got a name who is making a long-awaited return to the Canadian fold, and that’s the 24-year-old Marie Levasseur, who was included in this Canadian squad for the first time since 2017. 

Since then, though, when she was just a 20-year-old playing for the University of Memphis, a lot has changed for Levasseur, who is now a regular contributor on a solid Fleury 91 side in France’s D1Arkema. 

After graduating from Memphis, she first went to Finland, where she scored an impressive 13 goals in 24 games for ONS Oulu, which then paved the way for a move to Metz in the D1Arkema at the beginning of 2020, where she played 1 game for the French side before they got relegated at the end of the 2019/2020 season. 

But then, after a weird 2020/2021 season in division 2, where she and Metz just played 5 games due to COVID, Fleury 91 decided to take a punt on her for this 2021/2022 season, and it’s paid off massively for them. 

Having played all 9 of their games this year, she’s helped them make a surprise push up the table, where they sit 4th, just 3 points off of 3rd and a Champions League spot. 

And she’s adjusted quite well back to life in D1, too, even scoring her first league goal in Fleury’s most recent game, a 6-2 win over Guingamp, showing how she got back on Canada’s radar. 

So while she’ll be in tough for minutes at a full back position where Canada has a lot of quality in the likes of Ashley Lawrence, Allysha Chapman, Gabrielle Carle and Jayde Riviere (and technically, Janine Beckie, too), Levasseur will still be a name to watch not only in this camp, but going forward, too. 

There’s a reason why she had 7 appearances to her name for Canada by the time she was 20, and while things haven’t gone as planned since, with her form this year, you wouldn’t put it past her adding to those numbers now here. 

Playing at a good level, and still young, the best days are ahead for Levasseur, and she’ll look to translate that into a strong National Team career, one that she’ll hope includes appearances at the World Cup and Olympics. 

FB- Sura Yekka | FRA / Havre AC

But speaking of 24-year-old Canadian full backs playing in France, we’ve then got another player who is making a long-awaited return to the Canadian fold this camp, and that’s Yekka, who is earning her first call-up since 2015 here. 

Since then, though, when she was an 18-year-old just starting her career for the Michigan Wolverines, a lot has changed for her, though. 

First, she had a pretty solid collegiate career for Michigan, where she played 69 games across 4 years, scoring 2 goals along the way. Then, she made it to Germany in 2020, where she played 14 games for Duisburg in the top level of German football in the 2020/2021 season. 

And that led to where we are today, which is with Le Havre in France’s 2nd division, where Yekka has helped them push for promotion, sitting tied for 1st with Nantes through 9 games. 

So while Yekka might not have yet had the sort of career that some expected from her when she amassed 13 appearances by the age of 18, she’s still young, and is on the right track, which is why this call-up is so intriguing. 

An attacking full back, she’s in a similar boat as Levasseur, as there is a lot of competition at this position for Canada, but with Priestman calling in the pair of them, she obviously feels that they can challenge that. 

Because of that, it’s going to be interesting to monitor Yekka’s progress going forward. 

If she and Le Havre can push for promotion, that’d do wonders for her career, especially at the national team level, where Priestman obviously sees her as someone who could potentially make a difference in the future, where she’ll look to become the regular for Canada that some thought she’d become when she amassed all those early appearances. 

M- Victoria Pickett | USA / Kansas City Current

Elsewhere, though, we’ve then got a name who has been a bit more of a late-bloomer, and that’s the 25-year-old Pickett, who has really burst onto the scene this year for Kansas. 

Thanks to that, she earned her first call-up to Canada earlier this year, and while she’s yet to play in either of the 2 camps that she appeared in, you just feel like that’s going to change soon, maybe as soon as this November camp. 

In her first year as a professional, she’s taken some massive steps forward this year, becoming a regular part of the Kansas City Current’s midfield, playing 19 games after being drafted 15th overall by the side in the 2021 NWSL draft. 

After a solid collegiate career, one where she played 57 games across 2015 to 2018 before a knee injury robbed her of the 2019 season and the pandemic of the 2020 season, she recovered nicely from not really playing over 2 seasons so far this year with Kansas. 

So even though Kansas had their fair share of struggles, finishing last in the league and missing the playoffs, Pickett’s strong rookie season was a nice story, as she proved to be more than capable of playing at the NWSL level, even scoring her first professional goal along the way.  

Because of that, it’s been no surprise to see her climb onto the Canadian radar as of late, especially considering that Canada isn’t as deep in midfield as they are at other positions. 

With the likes of veterans such as Sophie Schmidt and Desiree Scott not getting any younger, that could open a door for Pickett behind Jessie Fleming, Quinn and Julia Grosso down the road, even if it doesn’t come right away, especially based on what she showed for Kansas this year. 

So seeing that, make sure to remember’s Pickett’s name going forward, because as she showed this year, she’s intent on making sure everyone remembers it, and will look to leverage that into a bigger role with Canada going forward. 

M- Nikayla Small | USA / Wake Forest University

But continuing up through the midfield, we’ve then got a name that we don’t know as much about, and that’s the youngest player in the camp, the 18-year-old Small, who earned just her 2nd call-up to the Canadian fold this window. 

Despite that, though, there’s a lot to be excited about with Small, who is in the midst of her rookie season with Wake Forest, where she played an impressive 20 games, scoring 1 goal and adding 5 assists. 

Plus, they made a decent run in the NCAA women’s soccer tournament, too, making it to the 2nd round, where they lost to fellow Canadians Jayde Riviere and Sarah Stratigakis’s Michigan, making it a pretty good debut season for Small. 

Because of that, you can see why Priestman has an eye on her for the future. 

With midfield being a bit of an interesting position for Canada going forward, Small could very well enter the discussion there in a couple of years, especially as she gets her legs under her at the collegiate level. 

Having gotten a handful of appearances before in the Canadian youth system, Small is already a known commodity for Canada, too, which is why Priestman called her up in October, and obviously saw enough from her then, as well as at her club, to keep her in the fold this time around.

So it’ll be interesting to see what ends up happening with Small going forward. 

More of a creative #8 with defensive tendencies, she seems to be the sort of player that Canada needs more of, so while she’s very young and raw, that makes her one to watch as she continues her journey into collegiate and then hopefully professional soccer further down the road. 

F- Cloé Lacasse | POR / SL Benfica

Moving up front, though, we’ve then got the player who might very well be the most intriguing name on this list, and that’s the 28-year-old Lacasse, who is quickly becoming a name that a lot of Canadians are taking notice of now.  

A late bloomer, Lacasse has really come into her own these last few seasons for Benfica, where she’s proven to be a very prolific attacking option for the Portuguese giants, who are fresh off of earning their first-ever league and cup double in the 2020-2021 season. 

Having arrived at Benfica in 2019, after a solid 4-year span with IBV in Iceland, where she scored an impressive 43 goals in 58 games for her club (all competitions), she’s been even more prolific in Portugal, scoring 56 goals in 66 games so far for Benfica. 

Yet, that’s just Lacasse for you. Sometimes deployed as an out-and-out #9, and sometimes as an inside forward in a front 3, she has all the tools you want in an attacking player, including her speed, a good shot and good attacking IQ. 

Because of that, it’s led to many calls for Lacasse to earn a shot with Canada in 2021, especially considering the team’s struggles to score goals at times over the past few years. 

But despite her proficiency, that is yet to turn into any sort of concrete opportunities for Canada quite yet, though. 

In fact, this is just her 3rd call-up at the senior level for Canada, and she’s yet to make her debut for her country, something that you surely have to imagine changes sometime soon. 

Considering her form for Benfica so far in 2021-2022, where she has 4 goals and 4 assists in 8 Champions League qualifiers/group stage games, as well as 5 goals and 1 assist in 5 league games, it’s becoming harder and harder for Canada to ignore Lacasse, hence her inclusion in this camp. 

So seeing all of that, keep an eye on her this camp, as well as going forward, because of all the names here, other than D’Angelo, she might have the best immediate claim towards minutes with Canada, and for good reason, especially given how she’s continued to fill the net for Benfica. 

F- Amanda West | USA / University of Pittsburgh

Lastly, and most certainly not least, though, we’ve got another intriguing name to wrap up this list, and that’s the 20-year-old West, who with this camp, is earning her first call-up to Canada at any level. 

But due to her play with the University of Pittsburgh, where she’s been a constant force over her 3 years with the program, she proved to be too hard to ignore for Priestman, earning her a nod for this camp. 

In her junior year, she’s scored an impressive 10 goals and added 3 assists in 11 games, which after putting up 13 goals and 7 assists in 16 games in 2020, and 10 goals and 9 assists in 18 games in 2019, has just been a continuation of her strong play at the collegiate career so far. 

Because of all that, it makes her inclusion in this camp so interesting. 

As mentioned earlier, goals have been an issue for Canada for a while now, so it only makes sense to call in someone who has been scoring them with regularity, such as West. 

With her form over the past 3 years, with 33 goals and 19 assists across 45 games, that’s the sort of offensive proficiency that you just can’t help but be intrigued by, so you can see why Priestman called her in.

So even though the college season didn’t end as hoped for West, as her side fell short to Small’s Wake Forest to miss out on the NCAA’s main tournament, this call-up is a nice consolation prize for her, as it’ll be interesting to see what she can do here. 

She might not break into the Canadian fold for a while now, but based on her scoring pedigree, you can’t help but be intrigued by what she’s shown, so because of that, it’ll be interesting to keep an eye on her going forward. 

Looking Forward: 

So seeing all of that, there’s a lot to be intrigued about with these 8 new faces that were called into this camp.

Again, as mentioned at times throughout here, it’s unknown yet who will feature this window, as there are so many bodies in this camp, yet just 2 games to play, but as we saw, there are plenty of intriguing names to keep an eye on despite that. 

Because of that, it’ll be interesting to see which of these 8 players can find a breakthrough here. 

All of them are at different points in their careers, but they’ve all got something that they can bring to the fold for Canada, which makes them all so interesting in their own way. 

And that’s exciting for Canada. 

Obviously, as Olympic champions, they’ve got a good core group of players to rely on, but it’s never a bad thing to have competition for those places, and these players should hopefully provide that, helping Canada push towards 2023 and beyond, continuing on what they built so far in 2021. 

Up Next: Canada vs Mexico, Saturday, November 27th, 2021, Time TBD (Venue TBD, Mexico City)

Cover Photo via: Canada Soccer

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