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Behind Jessie Fleming’s quiet facade lies a very bright mind that’s helped her in more than just soccer.
Fleming will head to UCLA this fall but first will have the small task of helping get Canada back on to the Olympic podium. She turned 18 years old in March and after the goal she just scored as Canada beat China 1-0 in a closed-door friendly in France on Wednesday, Fleming has made her case to be one of the players who could step to a new level in Rio.
“I just got into the 18 (yard-box), took my touch and just finished top corner,” Fleming said in a Canadian Soccer Association video of her lovely goal. Surrounded by defenders, she still managed a sublime finish from the penalty spot.
“I saw a little bit of space and I guess I just cut it past one player and had a quick second so I took my chance.”
That’s what sets Fleming apart from her peers. She’s already got a tremendous touch on the ball to go along with the vision that’s another level, but it’s her ability to make quick decisions is what makes her a player of tremendous potential.
Canada is going to need players to step forward to supplement the likes of Sinclair, Schmidt and Matheson if they have any chance of upsetting the higher-ranked teams they’ll face in most of their games at the Olympics. She may be young but Fleming already has that expectation placed upon her.
Ricketts the latest MNT player to come home
When Canada assembles for its next national team camp at the end of August, many of the players won’t have to travel as far as in the past.
As veteran Canadian internationals are willing to come back and play in their home country Canadian clubs are willing to sign them. Tosaint Ricketts' signing with Toronto FC earlier this week added to the list of established talent that includes David Edgar, Marcel de Jong, Nik Ledgerwood and Julian de Guzman.
With the men’s program gaining more prominence in recent months, Canadian players are more recognizable than in years past and until team academies churn out a steady supply of Canadians that can eat up minutes, bringing back names that have had careers in Europe is a winning situation for clubs, the players and the national team.
Canada will likely assemble in Florida (Orlando has been the preferred choice in recent camps) at the end of next month before making the trip to San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
For many years, players would assemble from all over the globe and hope chemistry could quickly return but with players in Canada, they’ll have less travel and will come in with experience playing together.
New injury sidelines Doneil Henry
In the 18 months since joining West Ham United of the English Premier League, Doneil Henry has yet to see the field in an EPL game but has seen plenty of the training table – and he’s about to spend more time on it.
The club announced Friday that Henry will be sidelined for up to two months with a knee ligament injury picked up in a preseason friendly against the NASL’s Carolina Railhawks.
Since moving to London from Toronto FC in January 2015, Henry has only seen competitive action for West Ham in a Europa Cup game. He did have a pair of loan deals to Blackburn Rovers in the Championship and start with a few good performances but then was sidelined by a long-term hamstring injury.
The injury will likely sideline Henry from the two World Cup qualifiers in September and will leave Canada looking for a starting right back. Despite some critics who said Henry wasn’t a fit at right back, Benito Floro had trusted the big defender - but now will likely need another option.
Hutchinson with Besiktas in Austria
As the unsuccessful coup unfolded in Turkey, Canada’s best soccer player was watching it all unfold in Istanbul, the nation’s largest city.
Atiba Hutchinson, an invaluable member of a Besiktas team that won the Turkish League and qualified for the Champions League, was a few days away from heading to Austria with his club for preseason matches.
On the night of the coup, he confirmed to Yahoo Canada Sports that he was safe and it was obviously a nervous time.
German international Mario Gomez has left the club due to the political instability but for now, Hutchinson is still with the club as Besiktas plays Italian side Udinese in a friendly on Sunday. It begins its title defence next month.