Priestman on CanWNT squad for Arnold Clark Cup: “Yes we won that medal, but I want to move beyond the medal.”

Canadian women’s national team head coach Bev Priestman announced the 25-player squad she’ll be taking to the 2022 Arnold Clark Cup on Monday — a squad featuring some new and returning faces.

In the team are 17 of the 20 players who won Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020 last summer. The missing players are Stephanie Labbé, who recently announced her retirement, forward Evelyne Viens, and captain Christine Sinclair, who won’t be in the squad after her mother Sandi passed away following a lengthy battle with Multiple Sclerosis.

“On behalf of the team, the staff, Canada Soccer, our thoughts and condolences are with Christine,” said Priestman to begin her press conference on Monday afternoon. “She lost her mum after a long battle with MS, and I can only imagine, to lose your mum is a really difficult time in your life. As a team, we’re right behind Christine, and collectively we made the decision for her to be around loved ones at this really, really difficult time.”

In the senior national team squad for the first time are Washington Spirit goalkeeper Devon Kerr, Sturm Graz midfielder Marie-Yasmine Alidou and Memphis Tigers forward Tanya Boychuk. They are joined by other returnees Sabrina D’Angelo, Sura Yekka, Victoria Pickett, and Cloé Lacasse.

Priestman opted to leave out U20 national team players, including senior international Jade Rose, as they prepare for the 2022 Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship, which will take place in the Dominican Republic from February 25 to March 12.

Kerr, now 24, hasn’t been involved with the national team at any level since playing for the U18 side back in 2014, and played under Priestman at the U17 level, including at the 2014 U-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica. Boychuk has also played for Canada at the youth level, most recently as part of the squad that took part in the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship, while Alidou has never been involved with the national team at any level prior to this camp.

“A lot of our scouting happens over video, but what I’ve seen from Marie is she can massively cover ground, is athletic and could play quickly,” Priestman said. “Those traits I’ve seen and I’ve heard great things, not only from seeing the video footage, but from people who’ve seen her and worked with her over a period of time. It’s just a different quality that she could add in our midfield.

“Until you get them in camp and you’re working with them and around our players, it’s always difficult to to really know. What I always say to a new face coming in is ‘you’ve got nothing to lose’. It’s just an opportunity, particularly in this setting, to even train and then if you blow us out of the water and you get on the pitch, it’s even better.”

As mentioned, Devon Kerr is also a familiar face for Bev Priestman. While she’s yet to be involved with the senior side, Kerr was called into eight youth camps by Priestman between the ages of 16 and 17. Kerr hasn’t established herself as a starter in the NWSL yet, but Priestman believes she’ll be in the mix in this camp and beyond, especially with the recent retirement of Stephanie Labbé.

“Devon is athletic, a great shot-stopper,” she said. “I just said to her ‘it’s a great opportunity to assess you alongside our keepers’. Devon has been the number two in NWSL, and so the level of game time hasn’t been there. So I thought that this window was a great opportunity to assess her. She’s a great goalkeeper, and we need to keep sort of expanding that pool given Steph’s retirement and where we’re heading in the future.”

Planning for the future, while remaining a top international team in the present, was a theme of Priestman’s media availability. She emphasized that Canada are the Olympic champions, and that’s fantastic, but she wants to turn the page and start writing the next chapter in the national team’s history. The Concacaf W Championship is coming up this summer, and serves as the way to qualify for the 2023 Women’s World Cup the following summer.

With Tokyo 2020 having been delayed a year, Canada’s chance for a post-Olympics “rebuilding year”, as Priestman put it, was taken away.

“We get to see [the youth national teams] be tested against the US, Mexico,” she said. “That youth system has not been knocked dormant, but they very much haven’t had anything that normally is that recycle we normally get. So I’m really excited to see under-20, under-17, see who jumps out of that.

“I think there is a reality that this group that just did the Olympics have also gone and done something that we’ve never done before, I can’t discredit the players that were involved for that. I think the team that’s needed in 2023 might be different to the team that was needed in 2021, and I think that’s now the exciting part where every player that comes into camp is fighting for a spot for both the qualification and the World Cup.”

It’s that refresh, and need to keep improving, that leaves Priestman hungry for even better things one year after managing her first international match at the SheBelieves Cup in 2021.

“It’s almost a whole year since SheBelieves and I feel that hunger, energy to set a new vision in this particular camp,” she said. “I think that the two camps post the Olympics, you had the celebration tour, and then we obviously had Mexico where we had a lot of challenges around roster and altitude and a whole lot of things. But it gave us some vital experience.

“I think now there’s a line in the sand where yes, that Olympic medal happened, but actually I want to move beyond the medal. We have to set that new vision and tweak some things that will help us longer term as a team.”

An important way to keep moving the program forward is to keep playing against the best teams in the world. The aforementioned 2021 SheBelieves Cup was Canada’s way of doing that last year, and the 2022 Arnold Clark Cup will take its place this year.

The tournament is similar in the sense that it’s an invitational competition, but the teams will be different. Hosted in England, the tournament will also feature three other leading international teams — the Three Lions, Germany and Spain. Germany are third in the latest FIFA Women’s Ranking, Canada are sixth, while England and Spain are eighth and ninth, respectively.

“[FIFA rankings] stand for something, but they also can be misleading because I think the women’s game has moved so far,” Priestman said. “Any team in that top 10 could go and win a World Cup or Euros, and that’s what you’re probably going to see in this this particular tournament, it’s going to be tight. All three teams will be really competitive.”

Priestman is leading Canada into this competition with a mindset familiar to them, that to be the best, you have to beat the best.

“We probably landed on the (Olympic) podium from being a really difficult team to beat,” she said. “I think that’s who we are, we’ll work harder than anyone we play for sure, we’re very front footed. I think where we need to move to is also being a big threat at the other end. So being world class in our own box, which we are, and moving towards be much better in the opposition’s box too.”

The inaugural edition of the tournament will run from February 17–23. Each team will play each other once, with a round robin table deciding the winner.

The full Canada squad for the 2022 Arnold Clark Cup:


Sabrina D’Angelo (Vittsjö GIK)
Devon Kerr (Washington Spirit)
Erin McLeod (Orlando Pride)
Kailen Sheridan (San Diego Wave FC)


Kadeisha Buchanan (FCF Olympique Lyonnais)
Vanessa Gilles (Angel City FC)
Shelina Zadorsky (Tottenham Hotspur)
Gabrielle Carle (Kristianstads DFF)
Allysha Chapman (Houston Dash)
Jayde Riviere (University of Michigan)
Sura Yekka (Havre AC)


Marie-Yasmine Alidou (SK Sturm Graz)
Jessie Fleming (Chelsea FC)
Julia Grosso (Juventus FC)
Ashley Lawrence (Paris Saint-Germain FC)
Victoria Pickett (Kansas City Current)
Quinn (OL Reign)
Sophie Schmidt (Houston Dash)
Desiree Scott (Kansas City Current)


Janine Beckie (Manchester City FC)
Tanya Boychuk (University of Memphis)
Jordyn Huitema (Paris Saint-Germain FC)
Cloé Lacasse (SL Benfica)
Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash)
Deanne Rose (Reading FC)