Sophie Schmidt leads Canada back on road to Tokyo Olympics

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It has been almost a year since the Canadian women’s national soccer team gathered to play a game.

And in its first match since playing at the Tournoi de France last March, Canada has drawn the best team in the world, facing the United States at the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 18.

It’s one of three games Canada will play at the tournament, which is serving as a lead-in to the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

“Every game against the U.S. is a battle, tooth and nail until the end,” said Canadian midfielder Sophie Schmidt on Wednesday. “We don’t like them, they don’t like us, so I don’t think anything changes in that regard.

“Potentially, we could be a little bit rusty heading into that game, especially since it’s the first game we’ve played in a year and the U.S. has had a couple of games. But the expectations and standards are the same for our players. We come out and expect to compete and to win, especially against the U.S.; what an opportunity — they’re No. 1 in the world — to see where we’re at heading into this Olympic year.”

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Canada will also play Argentina and Brazil in the four-team tournament. Canada is currently preparing for the event in Florida under new head coach Bev Priestman, who replaced Kenneth Heiner-Moller in October.

“This is a very important camp for us,” Schmidt said. “We’re kicking off the new year, it’s been about a year since we’ve last season each other, so it’s pivotal for us to get off on a good foot.”

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