Here are the CanWNT stars competing in the 2022 NWSL season
The NWSL is officially back in action this weekend.
The league's pre-season Challenge Cup has nearly wrapped, and the regular season has finally kicked off, with the NWSL entering its 10th season this year.
While there's a lot to be excited about with this new NWSL season from a more global perspective, what about from a Canadian view? With 13 Canadians on NWSL rosters as of writing, there will be plenty of Les Rouges talent on display each week. Here's a quick summary of our Canadian stars in the NWSL this season:
Vanessa Gilles (CB)
To begin, we've got one of two Canadian NWSL newcomers for this season; 26-year-old Vanessa Gilles comes to North America via Bordeaux this offseason, having enjoyed a couple of big seasons in France, where she found great domestic success – and even got a taste of the Champions League. As such, picking up the Canadian defender marked a big coup for expansion side Angel City this winter.
A late bloomer, Gilles has quickly become a very dominant defender over these past two seasons to become a regular for her country; she is expected to be a star on Angel City's backline, too. Given that she kicked off her first regular-season start with her new club by scoring inside the first three minutes en route to a 2-1 win? Gilles' ever-rising profile looks ready to match the starpower of her new city club.
(Caps/Goals for Canada: 16 / 2)
Chicago Red Stars:
Biana St. Georges (FB)
Over in Chicago, 24-year-old Biance St. Georges enters her fourth NWSL season with the Red Stars – and third campaign as a regular for this Chicago side. This season, she is expected to take a big step forward, having earned a handful of games in both 2020 and 2021. Based on what we saw from her in the Challenge Cup this year – where she played every game, scoring a goal – she seems intent on doing just that.
A two-way right back, she can impact games at both ends of the field, putting her on the cusp of the Canadian team, too. This a big year for her as she looks to carve out a spot in the squad ahead of the 2023 World Cup cycle.
(Caps/Goals for Canada: 1 / 0)
Allysha Chapman (FB)
The first of three Canadians in Houston, 33-year-old Allysha Chapman is entering her eighth NWSL season (and sixth with the Dash) this campaign. Despite her age, Chapman is showing no signs of slowing down. Having played 16 games in league play in 2021, along with a couple more in the Challenge Cup, she remains a key starter on this Dash team.
So, as she looks to keep her spot as a regular starter on the Canadian team, look for Chapman to put together another strong season, showing that she remains unfazed by young full-back challengers currently coming through the Canadian system. A defensive force, one unafraid of a tackle, Chapman brings a different look to the backline when she plays, especially in bigger games.
(Caps/Goals for Canada: 88 / 1)
Nichelle Prince (FW)
Continuing through the list of Canadians on the Dash, there's 27-year-old Nichelle Prince, who is entering her sixth season with the club. Coming off a campaign where she played a solid 16 regular-season games for the Dash, scoring two goals, it's expected that Prince has another strong campaign for her side in 2022, as they look to avenge missing the playoffs last year.
A speedy forward with an ability to both create and finish chances, Houston will need her firing at all cylinders this year, and given how crowded Canada is up front right now, Prince will be eager to provide that offence for them, allowing her to stake out a starting spot for the 2023 World Cup cycle.
(Caps/Goals for Canada: 78 / 13)
Sophie Schmidt (MF)
Lastly, rounding off the Canadian contingent in Houston is another familiar face in 33-year-old Schmidt, who is getting set for her fourth season with the club, and sixth overall in the NWSL.
This season might be the biggest yet for the longtime Canadian regular, who, after playing 18 games last year, is in a tough spot to repeat a similar feat this year.
Having been tried out as a centre-back in preseason, Schmidt, nominally a midfielder, is going to have to battle it out just to earn any sort of minutes, as Houston shored up that area over the offseason, too. Despite that, don't count Schmidt out quite yet, as there's a reason why she's been with Canada for almost two decades; while she might not start anymore for them, she is still a regular in the squad. Her leadership is invaluable, and she still can control a game in midfield, even if it comes more in a super-sub role these days.
(Caps/Goals for Canada: 212 / 19)
Kansas City Current:
Victoria Pickett (MF)
Shifting over to Kansas – the second of three teams with at least two Canadians on their roster – we've got 25-year-old Victoria Pickett leading the charge.
Pickett is now in her sophomore campaign in the NWSL and is expected to enjoy a strong showing for KC this season, having burst onto the scene with a stellar rookie campaign at the Current, playing 19 regular-season games. As a result, Pickett's also clawed her way into the Canadian squad, something she'll look to do once again with another strong campaign in 2022.
(Caps/Goals for Canada: 3 / 0)
Victoria Pickett finds the back of the net and pushes the Current ahead. 🌟 pic.twitter.com/88MXLEKaPO— Attacking Third (@AttackingThird) April 16, 2022
Desiree Scott (MF)
Joining Pickett in the KC midfield is a longtime Canadian regular, in 34-year-old Desiree Scott, who is preparing for her eighth season in the NWSL, and second with the Current (technically fifth if you include the Utah Royals franchise).
Once again, look for Scott to assume her usual position in the heart of the midfield for the Current, as she looks to build off of a solid 2021 campaign, one where she saw the field 12 times in regular-season play. Nicknamed the 'Destroyer' for a reason, she remains a key starter at both the club and National Team level in the heart of the midfield, and doesn't look ready to give up any of those roles anytime soon.
(Caps/Goals for Canada: 174 / 0)
Moving up to the Pacific Northwest, we've got another key midfielder for Canada, and that’s 26-year-old Quinn, who is entering their fifth NWSL season, and fourth with the Reign. This season, Quinn is expected to be a key contributor, fresh off a year where they played 12 games, helping the Reign finish second in the league and make a run to the semi-finals. Especially seeing how they've become an indispensable starter in the middle of the park for Canada, it's expected that that form begins to translate to even more minutes with the Reign, who have ambitions of bigger and better things in 2022.
(Caps/Goals for Canada: 68 / 5)
Erin McLeod (GK)
Shifting back down to Florida, we've got one of three Canadian goalkeepers in the NWSL, in 39-year-old Erin McLeod, who is entering her sixth NWSL season.
Despite being at an age where most have long-retired, McLeod is still going strong in goal as well, looking likely to play a big role for the Pride and building off the six appearances she had in 2021. As a result, she remains very much in the Canadian picture as she enters her 21st year with the National Team, bringing all sorts of experience to what is a pretty young goalkeeper group, especially after the retirement of Stephanie Labbe, keeping McLeod in the mix for minutes ahead of the 2023 World Cup cycle.
(Caps/Clean Sheets for Canada: 120 / 48)
Janine Beckie (FW)
Bouncing back up to the Pacific Northwest, we find another Canadian newcomer for this NWSL season in 27-year-old Janine Beckie.
Beckie is fresh off of a pre-season move to Portland out of Manchester City, but this will technically be her fourth season in the NWSL, having played for the Houston Dash and Sky Blue prior to making her move abroad. Considering how much she's progressed as a player with City since 2018 – winning a pair of FA Cups and League Cups over her time in England while becoming one of the best wingers in the FAWSL – it'll be interesting to see how she does in her second go-around here.
One of Canada's most important players this past half-decade, it's expected that Beckie stars in the NWSL, and for good reason, helping Portland build off of a season where, despite winning the Challenge Cup and regular season Shield, they fell in the semi-finals of the playoffs.
(Caps/Goals for Canada: 85 / 34)
Christine Sinclair (FW)
Helping Beckie in Portland's quest for glory will be Canadian icon and the all-time top international goalscorer, Christine Sinclair, who at 38 years of age, still remains a force up front for the Thorns.
Entering her 10th season with the club and in the NWSL, she continues to find new ways to torment defences, finishing last year with five goals in 15 regular-season games, and a further two in three Challenge Cup matches. So seeing that she's still a massive contributor to this Canadian side, expect her to have another big campaign for the Thorns, showing why many aren't just expecting her to play a role for Canada in the 2023 World Cup cycle, but a starring one, as well.
(Caps/Goals for Canada: 308 / 189)
Just some normal Christine Sinclair activities tonight - 28 minutes into her first game of the NWSL Challenge Cup (and 2022 season), first goal— Alexandre Gangué-Ruzic (@AlexGangueRuzic) March 19, 2022
Great finish, too, kicking off her 2022 campaign on a high note. The GOAT for a reason#CanWNT/#CanXNTpic.twitter.com/k06EosozQJ
San Diego Wave:
Kailen Sheridan (GK)
Shifting over to the second of two expansion teams entering the league this year, the San Diego Wave boast 26-year-old goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, who was traded to the new outfit this offseason from Gotham FC, where she spent five seasons with the club (also formerly known as Sky Blue).
There, Sheridan was one of the best goalkeepers in the league, even nabbing a spot in the NWSL's Best XI last season, having kept an impressive six clean sheets in 16 games. She enters this 2023 World Cup cycle as Canada's likely starter in the wake of Labbe's retirement, and for good reason. As a result, it'll be very interesting to see how she does with this new-look San Diego side, who are counting on her to be very solid at the back as they navigate the waters of being a new team
(Caps/Clean Sheets for Canada: 21 / 10)
Devon Kerr (GK)
Lastly, and most certainly not least, is one of the biggest up-and-coming Canadians in the NWSL; 24-year-old Devon Kerr, who enters her fourth season in the league, and third with the defending champions, the Spirit.
While she has just one appearance across those four years, which came this year in the Challenge Cup, it feels like only a matter of time until she gets her shot and runs with it. So for Canada, they'll keep a close eye out for that day, knowing that they'll want to officially snap up Kerr, who is also an American dual-national, when it comes. And so far, given that Canada called up Kerr earlier this year, they already have an edge in that battle should it come to it, and will look to keep that edge as Kerr continues to slowly break into the Spirit goal.
(Caps/Clean Sheets for Canada: 0 / 0)