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The Canadian women’s soccer team is back
The back-to-back Olympic bronze medallists will play their first match in close to a year tonight at 7 p.m. ET when they face the United States at the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando. Here’s a catchup on the Canadian team as it begins to ramp up for the Tokyo Olympics in five months:
The SheBelieves Cup is a quick, four-team event. Canada, the U.S., Brazil and Argentina will play each other once, and whoever finishes with the best record wins the tournament. There’s no playoff round. Canada’s other matches are Sunday at 6 p.m. ET vs. Argentina and Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET vs. Brazil. The U.S., which has won the last two Women’s World Cups, is ranked No. 1 in the world. Canada and Brazil are tied for eighth and Argentina is 31st.
Don’t read too much into Canada’s results, though. Six key players are missing, either due to injury or because they’re playing for their clubs in Europe. Canada will be without captain Christine Sinclair, four-time UEFA Women’s Champions League title winner Kadeisha Buchanan, Diana Matheson, Erin McLeod, Ashley Lawrence and Jordyn Huitema.
On the bright side, this creates an opportunity for younger players. Janine Beckie and Jessie Fleming are among those who’ll have a chance to take on a bigger role and show they deserve to keep it once the roster returns to full strength. Another interesting player to watch, says CBC Sports’ Signa Butler, is 24-year-old forward Evelyne Viens. She’s never played at the international level, but Viens scored 73 goals in 77 matches for her U.S. college team and has eight goals in 12 matches this season for Paris FC, which loaned her from Sky Blue FC of the National Women’s Soccer League.
Tonight’s match could be tough. Canada is 3-50-7 all-time vs. the Americans and hasn’t beaten them since 2001. Their most recent meeting came last February, in the final of their regional Olympic qualifying tournament. The match didn’t mean much because both teams had clinched a spot in Tokyo by winning their semifinals, but the result was familiar: a 3-0 U.S. win. The Americans have since extended their unbeaten streak to 34 matches, including back-to-back routs of Colombia last month in their first action since March. The Canada-U.S. match is available live only on the streaming service OneSoccer, but you can watch a replay on the CBC TV network and CBCSports.ca on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.
Canada has a new coach. Facing the best team in the world with a depleted roster isn’t the ideal setup for your first match as a senior national team head coach, but that’s the spot Bev Priestman is in tonight. Prior to replacing Kenneth Heiner-Moller in November, the 34-year-old spent two seasons as an assistant with the national team in her native England. Before that, she led Canada’s developmental program, was the head coach of the women’s under-17 and under-20 teams, and served as an assistant under former coach John Herdman at the 2015 Women’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, where Canada won its second consecutive bronze medal. Read about how Priestman is approaching her new job and watch Signa Butler’s interview with her here.
WATCH | CBC Sports’ Signa Butler explains the SheBelieves Cup:
The Blue Jays will start the season in Florida. They confirmed today that their first two homestands, at least, will be played at their spring-training stadium in Dunedin. After that, team president Mark Shapiro said, the Jays could move their home games to Buffalo, where they played them last year. He added that the team would like to return to Toronto “as soon as it is safe to do so,” but there’s no timetable for that. The Jays open their 162-game regular season April 1 in New York against the Yankees, and their home opener is April 8. Read more about the Jays’ temporary move to Florida here.
Naomi Osaka is one win away from her fourth Grand Slam title. The Australian Open’s No. 3 seed easily beat Serena Williams in last night’s marquee semifinal and will face 22nd-seeded Jennifer Brady in the final on Saturday at 3:30 a.m. ET. If she defeats Brady, who’s never played in a Grand Slam final, Osaka will have won four of the last nine Slams. Since she won her first, at the 2018 U.S. Open, no other woman has won more than one. The men’s final matchup will be decided early Friday when No. 4 Daniil Medvedev plays No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas. The winner faces world No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final.
Bianca Andreescu lost in the semifinals of her tournament. The Phillip Island Trophy event in Melbourne is for players who either didn’t qualify for the Australian Open or got knocked out early, so the competition isn’t the strongest. But, after losing in the second round of the Aussie, Andreescu got in four more valuable matches as she tries to shake off the rust from her 15-month layoff. And she can still squeeze in a few more in Australia despite today’s three-set defeat to 50th-ranked Marie Bouzkova. There’s a tournament in Adelaide starting Sunday, and Tennis Canada said Andreescu is “tentatively entered” in it.
The new president of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee is a woman who competed in seven Olympic Games. Seiko Hashimoto is a fitting replacement for 83-year-old Yoshiro Mori, who was fired for making sexist remarks. Before taking the job, the 56-year-old Hashimoto was the country’s Olympic minister as well as the minister for women’s empowerment. She competed in three Summer Olympics as a cyclist and four Winter Olympics as a speed skater, winning bronze in the 1,500 metres at the 1992 Winter Games. Read more about Hashimoto here and about how a 22-year-old college student launched the campaign that helped bring down Mori here.
Another big-name quarterback is getting traded. A few weeks after the Lions swapped Matthew Stafford to the Rams for Jared Goff, the Eagles have reportedly agreed to send Carson Wentz to the Colts for a pair of draft picks. Wentz was an MVP contender in 2017 until he got hurt late in the season and watched backup Nick Foles lead Philly to a Super Bowl victory. He’s struggled since then and was downright awful in 2020, throwing 15 interceptions and only 16 TDs. Indy needed a QB after Philip Rivers retired, and head coach Frank Reich was Wentz’ offensive co-ordinator for that MVP-calibre season in Philly. Read more about the trade here.
The Canadian men’s water polo team faces a tough path to the Olympics. Today’s 19-6 drubbing by Greece dropped Canada’s record at the last-chance qualifying tournament in the Netherlands to 1-0-3. Canada finished fourth in its group, which is good enough to advance to the quarter-finals, but it will have to face the top team in the other group. That’s Russia, which went undefeated in its five round-robin games. A loss would end Canada’s hopes of landing one of the three remaining spots in the Olympic tournament. The game is Friday at 2 p.m. ET and you can watch it live here.
Also coming up on CBC Sports
Alpine skiing world championships: Watch the two runs of the men’s giant slalom live Friday at 4 a.m. ET and 7:30 a.m. ET here. Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami won today’s women’s giant slalom for her second gold medal of these world championships. American star Mikaela Shiffrin finished second and now has a medal of each colour, with the slalom — her best event — still to come.
Ski cross: Canada’s Reece Howden has won three of the last four World Cup events to open up a big lead in the men’s season standings. Canada’s Marielle Thompson is second in the women’s chase after reaching five of the last six podiums. Watch them both race live Friday starting at 5:30 a.m. ET. here.
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