It has been an exciting year for Canadian soccer, punctuated by the bronze medal performance of Canada's women’s national team at the London 2012 Olympics in the summer.
HIGHLIGHTS OF CANADA'S BRONZE MEDAL TRIUMPH: http://youtu.be/0_UvBiRfXp8
But what’s been crucial to the success of the men’s and women’s national teams across all age groups this calendar year has been the number of Vancouver Whitecaps FC players – past and present – that were selected to represent their country.
Today, in the first of two parts, we proudly review our Blue and White women's alumnae who wore the Maple Leaf with pride.
Women’s superstar and national hero Christine Sinclair and some of her Olympic teammates are the highest-profile former and current Whitecaps due to their exploits in London, but there were also a number of younger players who did their country proud at the U-17 and U-20 FIFA Women's World Cups.
Let’s now take a look at the list of Whitecaps FC players and alumnae that have graced the field for the Red and White in 2012.
PART I, WOMEN'S REVIEW:
On the women’s side there were a total of 32 current or former players called up in 2012. That total increases to 34 player call-ups when you factor in Summer Clarke (U-17 and senior WNT) and Jenna Richardson (U-20 and senior WNT) who were each called up to two national sides this year.
Breaking it down:
19 to the senior women’s national team
- 12 former Whitecaps FC women’s players
- 3 players who played for the women’s team in 2012
- 3 who were on the 2012 roster but did not play any matches
- 1 U-18 Girls Elite player
- 5 to the women's U-20 team
- 7 to the women's U-17 team
- 3 to the women's U-15 team
CANADA WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM (19 players)
The Olympic journey for John Herdman’s heroes began on December 20 last year when he announced his roster for January’s CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament in Vancouver.
A staggering 14 former Whitecaps FC women’s players were selected among the final squad of 20. This included: goalkeeper Erin McLeod; defenders Melanie Booth, Candace Chapman, Robyn Gayle and Shannon Woeller; midfielders Kaylyn Kyle, Carmelina Moscato, Sophie Schmidt, Desiree Scott, Chelsea Stewart and Brittany Timko; and strikers Chelsea Buckland, Christine Sinclair and Melissa Tancredi.
That group would earn qualification to the 2012 London Olympic Summer Games with a 3-1 semi-final win over Mexico.
In February, the women’s team participated in the Cyprus Women’s Cup, but not before being put through their paces in a pre-tournament camp in Larnaca.
Of the 26 players selected by Herdman, there were 16 players who have put on a Whitecaps FC jersey at one stage in their careers. Aside from those called up for Olympic qualifying, defender Emily Zurrer and midfielder Ranee Premji were also invited to the camp on the tiny European island.
Kyle, Premji and Woeller played for Whitecaps FC in the 2011 W-League season.
Canada's final 18-player roster for the Olympic Games featured 12 players who have played for Vancouver Whitecaps FC, including McLeod, Chapman, Moscato,
Zurrer, Gayle, Stewart, Kyle, Schmidt, Scott, Sinclair, Tancredi and Timko. Among that bronze-medal winning team were two players who played on this year's Whitecaps FC women's team: Kyle and Scott. Additionally, there were another three players who were on the 2012 women’s roster but did not play any matches for the ‘Caps this year: Booth, Stewart, and Timko.
Lastly, Vancouver Whitecaps FC women’s striker Jenna Richardson, Girls Elite striker Summer Clarke and fellow forward Jodi-Ann Robinson were among 27 players recently called up for the women’s national team year-end training and assessment camp from December 12 to 20 in Vancouver.
Aside from that trio, 10 additional Whitecaps FC women’s alumnae were called up by Herdman to end the year, including Booth, Kyle, McLeod, Moscato, Schmidt, Scott, Sinclair, Tancredi, Timko and Zurrer.
CANADA UNDER-20 WOMEN’S TEAM (5)
In late January, head coach Andrew Olivieri selected four players from the 2011 Whitecaps FC women’s team for a two-week training camp in Costa Rica ahead of the CONCACAF women’s U-20 Championships in Panama.
Defender Nicole Setterlund (Washington State), midfielders Jaclyn Sawicki (University of Victoria) as well as Oregon State duo Jenna Richardson (striker) and Erin Uchacz were the ‘Caps who received call-ups.
Richardson, Sawicki and Setterlund (who all played for Whitecaps FC in this past season’s W-League campaign) helped the U-20 national team to a silver medal at the U-20 Women’s CONCACAF championships, which sealed qualification to the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
In early July, Olivieri held a six-day camp in June for 24 players, including Setterlund, Sawicki, Richardson and defender Nikki Ambrose (Santa Clara University).
On August 8, Setterlund, Sawicki and Richardson were rewarded with spots in the final roster for the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan in August-September. Sawicki and Richardson both scored goals during the tournament.
CANADA UNDER-17 WOMEN’S TEAM (7)
Five members of Whitecaps FC’s U-18 Girls Elite squad were picked by head coach Bryan Rosenfeld to participate in a 10-day training camp in Florida from January 31, which included a friendly with Germany on February 4.
Defender Aman Shergill, midfielders Jasmin Dhanda, Jasmine Mander and Elissa Neff, and striker Kajal Parmar made the trip to the sunshine state.
In April, Dhanda, Neff and Parmar were joined by Whitecaps FC Girls Elite defender Carley Radomski in a seven-day pre-tournament camp in the United States before the CONCACAF women’s U-17 championships in Guatemala.
Canada won silver in the tournament to secure qualification to the World Cup, with Summer Clarke (pictured left), the younger sister of men’s first team striker Caleb Clarke, scoring a tournament-best six goals.
Stay tuned on Friday for the second part of the 'Caps for Canada Year in Review as we look back on the men's call-ups in 2012.
CANADA UNDER-15 WOMEN’S TEAM (3)
Late in the year, the three youngest players in the 'Caps Girls Elite program were called up to wear the Red and White for the first time with the Canadian U-15 women's national team. Defender/midfielder Rachel Jones, and midfielders Simmrin Dhaliwal and Samantha Donald were all among 24 players called up for the women's U-15 talent identification camp in Vaughan, ON from December 14 to 20.
Led by Canada's Women's Excel Program U-20 director and coach Andrew Olivieri, the seven-day camp was used to lay the groundwork for the next two-year women's U-17 cycle - an age group that will be eligible for the women's U-17 international competitions in 2014.