Captain Christine Sinclair leads a young roster featuring seven teenagers as Canada looks to defend its title at the Algarve Cup.
John Herdman’s fourth-ranked team leaves Thursday for Portugal and the 12-nation tournament that runs March 1-8. Canada defeated Brazil 2-1 in last year’s final.
With the tournament falling on a FIFA international window, Herdman has been able to summon European-based pros Kadeisha Buchanan (Olympique Lyonnais) and Ashley Lawrence (Paris Saint-Germain) for the first time since Canada won bronze at last summer’s Rio Olympics.
The Canadian women have had one camp and played just one game — a 3-2 win over Mexico on Feb. 4 in Vancouver that was more about the past than the future in feting three retiring players.
The storyline for this 22-woman squad is youth as Herdman kicks off the post-Rio quadrennial for real.
Jordyn Huitema, a 15-year-old forward from Chilliwack, B.C., seen as a future star, is joined by fellow teenagers Deanne Rose, Sarah Stratigakis, Hannah Taylor (all 17), Gabrielle Carle and Jessie Fleming (both 18) and Marie Levasseur (19).
Fleming and Rose were on the Rio Olympic team. Carle was an alternate.
Ten other members of the Algarve squad are 23 or younger.
The veterans are Sinclair (33), Stephanie Labbe (30), Desiree Scott (29), Allysha Chapman and Sophie Schmidt (both 28). The quintet has a combined 604 caps.
The Algarve roster features 14 of Herdman’s 18 Olympians. Melissa Tancredi and Rhian Wilkinson have…