Kenneth Heiner-Moller makes his home debut as Canadian women’s soccer coach on June 10 against Olympic champion Germany. And the 47-year-old Dane is bringing his big guns to Hamilton’s Tim Hortons Field.
In addition to captain Christine Sinclair and her 267 caps, Heiner-Moller has summoned four others who have a century or more national team appearances: goalkeeper Erin McLeod (116) and midfielders Desiree Scott (133), Sophie Schmidt (169) and Diana Matheson (194).
Defenders Kadeisha Buchanan (76), Ashley Lawrence (61) and Allysha Chapman (51), midfielder Jessie Fleming (52) and goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe (50) all have 50 or more caps.
The new face, at least to the public, is Heiner-Moller, who was an assistant to John Herman when the Canadian women won bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He was elevated to the top job in January when Herdman took charge of the Canadian men’s program.
A bundle of energy with the gift of the gab, the stylish Herdman is hard to miss on the sidelines. Heiner-Moller is more laid-back.
“I don’t mind the spotlight but I don’t need it,” he said in an interview.
Teenagers on the 20-woman roster are 17-year-old Julia Grosso, 18-year-old Emma Regan and 19-year-old Deanne Rose. Regan and Gross are both from the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite program while Rose, who already has 33 caps, plays for the University of Florida.
The Vancouver-based Heiner-Moller elected to leave 17-year-old striker Jordyn Huitema with the under-17 squad, which is preparing for the June 6 resumption of the CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship.
The original tournament was suspended April 22, due to security concerns in the host country of Nicaragua. The IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., will host the remaining matches with Canada 1-0-0 after a 3-0 victory over Bermuda in Nicaragua.
Other than Huitema, Heiner-Moller said he got everyone he wanted.
Labbe gets the call despite a lack of playing time after being denied a chance to play for a Calgary men’s team in the PDL by league officials. She expects to join a European team in the near future.
“I hope so,” said Heiner-Moller. “I don’t think that players on this level can go without match minutes for a longer period of time and Steph knows that I think this.”
Canada is 1-5-0 all-time against Germany. The lone win came at the 2016 Rio Olympics when Canada scored a 2-1 upset in preliminary play. Germany had its revenge in the semifinal, winning 2-0.
The Germans went on to defeat Sweden 2-1 in the final while Canada beat Brazil by the same score for the bronze.
The most recent FIFA rankings in March saw Canada rise to No. 4, matching its all-time high achieved in the wake of Rio. The U.S. ranks No. 1, with England second.
Germany dropped to No. 3, falling out of the top two for the first time since June 2009, after finishing last in March in the SheBelieves Cup where the Germans lost 3-0 to France, 1-0 to the U.S. and drew 2-2 with England.
In the aftermath of that poor performance, Steffi Jones was dismissed as Germany coach and Horst Hrubesch was named interim coach. Hrubesch led the German men to a silver medal at the Rio Olympics.
Germany is coming off 4-0 World Cup qualifying wins over Slovenia and the Czech Republic in April.
“It’a hungry team,” said Heiner-Moller.
Hrubesch, a former German international forward, has a coaching resume that stretches more than 30 years,
“He knows what he’s doing. He’s a great coach,” Heiner-Moller said. “He’s definitely sparked some new energy into this German side, bringing in some more untested players but definitely hungry players. And they’ll be ready.”
Canada will have some intel on the opposition. McLeod, Schmidt and defender Shannon Woeller all play professionally in Germany.
Germany scored in the 86th minute to beat Canada 2-1 the last time they met, at a friendly in Erfurt, Germany.
Canada last played in April when it lost 1-0 to France in a friendly in Rennes. The teams is 3-2-0 under Heiner-Moller, who has spent recent months building relationships with the likes of Portland, Olympique Lyonnais and Paris Saint-Germain, home to Sinclair, Buchanan and Lawrence, respectively.
The Canadian women are gearing up for the CONCACAF Women’s Championship in October, which serves as a World Cup qualifier.
The Hamilton game is the first home match for Heiner-Moller since taking over the women’s team, from John Herdman in January. It’s also the first match for the women at Tim Hortons Field since a 1-0 loss to England in a friendly ahead of the 2015 Women’s World Cup Canada.
Goalkeepers: Stephanie Labbe, Stony Plain, Alta., unattached; Erin McLeod, St. Albert, Alta., USV Jena (Germany).
Defenders: Lindsay Agnew, Kingston, Ont.; Houston Dash (NWSL); Allysha Chapman, Courtice, Ont.. Houston Dash (NWSL); Ashley Lawrence, Caledon, Ont.. Paris Saint-Germain (France); Emma Regan, North Vancouver, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite; Shannon Woeller, Vancouver, USV Jena (Germany); Shelina Zadorsky, London, Ont., Orlando Pride (NWSL); Kadeisha Buchanan, Brampton, Ont.; Olympique Lyonnais (France).
Midfielders: Rebecca Quinn, Toronto, Washington Spirit (NWSL); Desiree Scott, Winnipeg, Utah Royals FC (NWSL); Sophie Schmidt, Abbotsford, B.C., FFC Frankfurt (Germany); Jessie Fleming, London, Ont., UCLA (NCAA); Diana Matheson, Oakville, Ont., Utah Royals FC (NWSL); Julia Grosso, Vancouver, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite.
Forwards: Christine Sinclair, Burnaby, B.C., Portland Thorns (NWSL); Deanne Rose, Alliston, Ont., University of Florida Gators (NCAA); Janine Beckie, Highlands Ranch, Colo., Sky Blue FC (NWSL); Adriana Leon, King City, Ont., Sky Blue FC (NWSL); Nichelle Prince, Ajax, Ont., Houston Dash (NWSL).
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press