Home Global Game Asia Herdman believes cold Edmonton conditions will be tempered by warm reception from fans

Herdman believes cold Edmonton conditions will be tempered by warm reception from fans

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According to the Weather Network’s 14-day advance forecast, Edmonton will, ahem, enjoy a high of 3 C and a low of -2 C on Oct. 30. Canada’s friendly at Commonwealth Stadium against South Korea will be kicked off in the evening; so, unless, there’s a change in the weather trend, coach John Herdman’s charges can expect to be playing in subzero conditions.

(Accuweather is calling for a high of 9 C and a low of -5 C; World Weather Online predicts a high of -3 C, a low of -6 C; judging by the spread, it’s fair to say that long-range forecasts aren’t 100 per cent reliable. But this is fact: According to Environment Canada, last year, on Oct. 30, Edmonton’s high temp was -4.6 C, and the low was -10.7 C. And it snowed).

And even though the late autumn/early winter conditions in Edmonton won’t be anything close to the July conditions we’ll see at the 2015 Women’s World Cup, Herdman said that getting a friendly in at the stadium where Canada will open the tournament will be vital to the team’s preparations. And, he said the cold can be a coaching tool, to see “if the players can focus on the task at hand.”

“For us, it (the weather) makes no difference. We just want to make sure we experience those (World Cup) stadiums.

“The more people we’ll put into the stands the warmer it will be.”

Herdman unveiled the roster for the Korea match, and the one real surprise pick is 16-year-old Sura Yekka. The Mississauga, Ont. native has been to a U-17/U-19 camp in Denmark and was part of a U-15 identification camp in 2012. But she has no appearances for Canada at any age level. She could possibly make her debut with the senior team Oct. 30 in Edmonton, before she has a chance to play for a U-17 or U-20 team.

Unusual, to say the least.

Sura Yekka: She’s 16 but could get her first senior cap

Herdman said that Yekka was identified by Excel program head Bev Priestman at an all-stars competition in Thunder Bay. Herdman had a look at her in Vancouver, and she played against Norway and Denmark in that U-17/U-19 camp. She’s a fullback, a position where Canada is sorely lacking.

“When we talk about the modern fullback, she ticks a lot of the boxes we’ve been looking for.”

But there isn’t a lot of youth in this roster. While Herdman said he has almost all of the core players aged 22 and over (save for forward Melissa Tancredi, who has gone back to school to work towards becoming a chiropractor), he wasn’t able to get more than one player (Melissa Busque) who is currently in an NCAA program.

“It is a bit of a challenge; from some schools, this is crunch time…. a lot of players are under pressure.”

But he also wondered out loud how an NCAA program would value itself over a national-team callup for one of its players.

Herdman now has the core of his senior players (those 22 and over) together for the next four months, which will give the Canadian women a level of familiarity with each other that many other national programs won’t be able to match. He said he’s looked at 32 players in the post-Olympic training cycle and he now has a good feel for the players who will make up the core of the team.

“We can make sure that the tactical foundation and the technical foundation are laid. You start to invest in the right people who will get you to the podium.”

And that includes Kara Lang, the former national-team star who has come out of retirement and is hoping to make a comeback. She will be in Edmonton; she isn’t ready to be on the Canadian roster, but Herdman suggested Lang could be on the bench at Commonwealth so she can soak up the atmosphere of the friendly.

The camp will also see goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe make a homecoming of sorts. Labbe was with the Edmonton Aviators of the W-League in 2004. Before the club declared bankruptcy, both the Aviators’ women and the men’s USL A-League team played home games at Commonwealth Stadium. With Erin McLeod rated as one of the best keepers in the women’s game, and Karina LeBlanc starring in the Portland Thorns’ run to the NWSL title, Labbe continues to find herself third on the national-team depth chart.

But Herdman says its important to have “three robust keepers” for the Women’s World Cup. But he understands the clock is ticking on Labbe, who simply can’t unseat either of the goalies ahead of her.

“It is tough, we have two solid keepers” said Herdman. “You think of Stephanie as a young, emerging keeper, but she’s not so young anymore.”

But Herdman said that whenever LeBlanc is challenged, she has upped her game. So movement at the goalkeeping position has been, well, non-existent.

All but five of the players on the roster are attached to NWSL clubs.

GK- Stephanie Labbe | SWE / KIF Orebro DFF
GK- Karina LeBlanc | USA / Portland Thorns FC
GK- Erin McLeod | USA / Chicago Red Stars
D- Robyn Gayle | USA / Washington Spirit
D- Carmelina Moscato | USA / Seattle Reign FC
D- Marie-Eve Nault | SWE / KIF Orebro DFF
D- Lauren Sesselmann | USA / FC Kansas City
D- Rhian Wilkinson | USA / Boston Breakers
D- Sura Yekka | CAN / Brams United
D- Emily Zurrer | USA / Seattle Reign FC
M- Kaylyn Kyle | USA / Boston Breakers
M- Diana Matheson | USA / Washington Spirit
M- Sophie Schmidt | USA / Sky Blue FC
M- Desiree Scott | USA / FC Kansas City
M- Brittany Timko | unattached
F- Melissa Busque | USA / Seattle University
F- Adriana Leon | USA / Chicago Red Stars
F- Christine Sinclair | USA / Portland Thorns FC

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