Canadian soccer coach John Herdman says women’s roster decisions are made

VANCOUVER — Canadian women’s soccer coach John Herdman says the decisions are made ahead of next Monday’s World Cup roster announcement.

“They are now, after seeing that tonight,” Herdman said Tuesday after a training game against a boys team that ended in a driving rainstorm.

Herdman’s braintrust will have its say at a meeting Wednesday, with input from staff charged with monitoring the physical and mental side of the players. But the coach seems to have his 23-woman roster sorted.

It looks to include influential midfielder Diana Matheson, a veteran of 166 caps who tore her anterior cruciate ligament in a friendly with Japan in October. Matheson watched Tuesday’s game on crutches, after injuring her foot during her comeback.

“We think we can get her back,” said Herdman. “Fingers are well-crossed.”

Herdman has 24 players in camp not counting Matheson, with another four in the NSWL part of his wider pool.

As is often the case with an ACL injury, Matheson’s comeback has been up and down.,

“One day she’s flying, the next day it’s a backward step,” Herdman said.

But he said Matheson will be “given every chance.”

Herdman also plans to designate a group of some six alternates ready to be called on if needed.

The 24-team World Cup runs June 6 to July 5 in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton.

Tuesday’s game consisted of three 30-minute sessions against Surrey United’s under-17 team on an artificial pitch opposite a local school. It ended 0-0 but both teams had their chances with the weather worsening as the afternoon wore on.

The non-advertised game drew 100 spectators or so, with some sticking it out to the end. Youngsters who did last the afternoon were rewarded with autographs and photo-ops with the players as they left the pitch.

Herdman is using games with boys’ teams to ramp up the pace and physicality facing his squad as it prepares to face elite women’s sides at the World Cup.

The Canadian coach asked the Surrey team to play a 4-2-1 formation, to help his side prepare for its World Cup opposition.

Herdman watched the first two sessions from a crane behind the goal before coming down to pitch level for the final chapter.

The Canadian women showed a defter touch and more vision than their opponents Tuesday. Teenage midfielder Jessie Fleming’s exquisite touch won her time on the ball while forward Adriana Leon dribbled through several would-be tacklers.

At the back, Kadeisha Buchanan and Lauren Sesselmann — who is back from her own knee operation — gave as good as they got, slapping arms away as male attackers tried to get body position.

It was a full-blooded affair. Fullback Rhian Wilkinson’s post-game treatment included an icepack on the back of her leg before her thigh was wrapped like a mummy.

The Canadians also have a California scrimmage with the U.S. women’s team planned for mid-May.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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