Priestman looks to extend unbeaten run in a pair of games in Mexico

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TORONTO — The Canadian women will look to extend their 12-game unbeaten run with a pair of games in Mexico.

Sixth-ranked Canada will play No. 28 Mexico on Nov. 27 and Nov. 30 with a 10-day camp starting Nov. 22 in Mexico City.

Olympic champion Canada has won its last five matches and is unbeaten in its last 12 outings (8-0-4 including two penalty shootout wins at the Olympics) dating back to a 2-0 loss to Brazil on Feb. 24 at the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando.

The Canadian women are 9-2-4 this year under coach Bev Priestman — with the only other loss to the U.S. at the SheBelieves Cup. Priestman was put in charge in October 2020 but did not get to coach the team until the SheBelieves Cup.

Mexico is third in CONCACAF behind No. 6 Canada and the top-ranked U.S. The games offer Canada a chance to play CONCACAF opposition at altitude.

Canada has won five straight against Mexico and is unbeaten in their last 14 meetings (12-0-2) dating back to a 2-1 loss in March 2004. Its overall record against the Mexican women is 22-1-2.

"We want to get better at scoring goals against that Tier 2-type opponent," said Priestman. "Mexico, the more I've watched them, they're actually a really aggressive strong team. I think they've evolved to being a bit more of a threat in CONCACAF.

"So it will be a great test for us. And a great chance probably now to test some players and also implement some of the tactical changes for us moving forward."

Canada won 2-0 the last time it met Mexico, in February 2020 in group play at the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship in Edinburg, Texas. The Mexicans eventually lost 4-0 to the U.S. in the semifinals, missing out on Tokyo.

The camp roster features 18 of the 22 members of Canada's Olympic squad, including captain Christine Sinclair who has scored a world-record 188 goals in 306 international matches.

Forwards Adriana Leon and Janine Beckie are unavailable due to injury. Beckie continues to play for Manchester City but Priestman says she needs some recovery time. Gabrielle Carle and Jayde Riviere are unavailable through school commitments.

Priestman has extended invites to eight players who were not part of the Olympic roster,

Four were part of the camp for the recent games against New Zealand: Marie Levasseur from France's Fleury FC, Victoria Pickett from the NWSL's Kansas City team, Jade Rose from Harvard University, and Nikayla Small from Wake Forest University.

The others are forward Amanda West from the University of Pittsburgh, defender Sura Yekka from Havre AC in France, goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo of Vittsjo GIK in Sweden and forward Cloe Lacasse of Portugal's Benfica in Portugal.

The 20-year-old West, a dual citizen who is also eligible to play for Sweden, was supposed to be in camp for the New Zealand games for her first call-up but was sidelined by injury.

"She's been scoring a lot of goals in her conference," said Prietsman.

"She's direct, athletic ... She's done some good things at NCAA level," she added.

It's the first call-up for the 24-year-old Yekka since 2015.

"She's got great athleticism, technical ability, ... I've tracked her closely because I know her qualities" said Priestman, who coached her at the youth level.

The Canadian coach says she continues to look to the future, "to keep the environment fresh and hungry."

The Canadian women have played twice since their Olympic triumph, defeating No. 23 New Zealand 5-1 in Ottawa and 1-0 in Montreal last month, kicking off what was dubbed a "Celebration Tour." Canada Soccer says that tour will continue with home matches next spring.

Priestman's team is expected to play away matches during the February international window.

The Canadians are gearing up for next July's CONCACAF W Championship, which will determine qualification for the 2023 Women’s World Cup and 2024 Olympics.

Some 30 CONCACAF nations, split into six groups, will begin qualifying play in February, with the six group winners joining Canada and the U.S., who received byes, in the final tournament.

Canada Roster

Goalkeepers: Sabrina D'Angelo Vittsjo GIK (Sweden); Stephanie Labbe, Paris Saint-Germain (France); Erin McLeod, Orlando Pride (NWSL); Kailen Sheridan, NJ/NY Gotham FC (NWSL).

Defenders: Kadeisha Buchanan, Olympique Lyonnais (France); Allysha Chapman, Houston Dash (NWSL); Vanessa Gilles, FC Girondins de Bordeaux (France); Ashley Lawrence, Paris Saint-Germain (France); Marie Levasseur, Fleury FC (France); Jade Rose, Harvard University (NCAA); Shelina Zadorsky, Tottenham Hotspur (England); Sura Yekka, Havre AC (France).

Midfielders: Jessie Fleming, Chelsea FC (England); Julia Grosso, University of Texas at Austin (NCAA); Victoria Pickett Kansas City Current (NWSL); Quinn, OL Reign (NWSL); Sophie Schmidt, Houston Dash (NWSL); Desiree Scott, Kansas City Current (NWSL); Nikayla Small, Wake Forest University (NCAA).

Forwards: Jordyn Huitema, Paris Saint-Germain (France); Cloe Lacasse, SL Benfica (Portugal); Nichelle Prince, Houston Dash (NWSL); Deanne Rose, Reading (England); Christine Sinclair, Portland Thorns (NWSL); Evelyne Viens, NJ/NY Gotham FC (NWSL); Amanda West, University of Pittsburgh (NCAA).

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2021.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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