Canadian midfielder Desiree Scott raring to go after lengthy soccer hiatus

·4 min read

Desiree Scott has been waiting a long time for her next game.

The 33-year-old midfielder from Winnipeg didn't play in the NWSL's Challenge Cup last summer due to family commitments and opted out of the league's Fall Series. Her last match with Canada was March 10, 2020 — a 2-2 tie with Brazil at a tournament in France.

Next week's SheBelieves Cup can't come soon enough.

"It's really been a long time coming to get on a field with other people," Scott told reporters Friday from Florida. "So the first (Canada) team meeting, we walked in and I just got teary-eyed because I've really missed being in the environment and in that team aspect of things."

Scott, a tenacious ball-winner who has earned 157 caps, and the eighth-ranked Canadians open play next Thursday against the top-ranked U.S. at the four-country tournament in Orlando.

The Canadian women then play Brazil, tied for eighth in the world rankings, on Feb. 21 and No. 31 Argentina on Feb. 24.

Playing the powerful Americans is always a big ask. Doing it 345 days after your last outing only raises the degree of difficulty.

Canada's record against the U.S. is 3-50-7. The Americans are riding a 34-game unbeaten streak and have scored two or more goals in 30 of those games. They are also unbeaten in their last 50 home matches (45-0-5) during which they have outscored their opponents 179-27.

The U.S. is coming off a pair of lopsided wins over Colombia last month.

Scott is unfazed, despite a personal 0-10-3 record against the Americans.

"What a way to start the year off after not being together for a year," she said. "We can come into this camp and make a ton of excuses and look at it that way. But for us, it's about the opportunity that we have ahead of us.

"You're playing the No. 1 team. Any time we play them, it's always a gritty battle. So we're just looking forward to using that as a measuring stick to gauge where we're at after not being together for a year. But also just looking at it as an opportunity to shine, see where we're at, show what we've got and really build on that through the rest of the tournament."

Scott paid tribute to Canadian strength and conditioning coach Cesar Meylan for helping her stay in shape during her time in Winnipeg.

"He's given me a program that has adapted to the snow, being on my own in my basement. I invested in a treadmill and dumbbells and he's kind of just adapted my program to that. I'll work off a wall in my basement.

"I was a bit nervous coming into camp to see where I'm at. Nothing can replicate being on the field. But I've been good so far. I'm still standing."

The tournament marks the first outing for new coach Bev Priestman, who spent 2013 to 2018 with Canada Soccer as an assistant coach with the senior side and youth head coach before returning to her native England to take up a similar role with the Lionesses.

Scott says Priestman has her own style and is building off her experience both in England and Canada.

"I don't think she's going to come in and overhaul everything. But she just given us new ways to think about some of the small tactical things that we've already been doing. Allowing us to get a lot of more competitiveness within training sessions. Nothing is given. You've got to earn that and I think she's really pushing that aspect in training."

The 34-year-old Priestman took over the Canadian team in November after Kenneth Heiner-Moller accepted a coaching job in his native Denmark.

Scott started her NWSL career in Kansas City and will be back there this season as a member of the expansion Kansas City NWSL side after time with the now-defunct Utah Royals.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 12, 2021

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press