OPINION: The case for Evelyne Viens

Evelyne Viens had a phenomenal junior season for USF in 2018. Could she see action for the Canadian national team in the future? SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/GOUSFBULLS

Despite being knocked out of the Women’s World Cup in the Round of 16, the Canadian women’s national soccer team is really good.

Well, that's at least what we keep telling ourselves.

In actuality, No.5-ranked Canada had a rather subpar World Cup. After winning two group stage games against No. 46-ranked Cameroon and No. 19-ranked New Zealand, Canada was beaten by the No. 8-ranked Netherlands, dooming them to a second place finish in Group E. No. 9-ranked Sweden subsequently defeated Canada in the first stage of the knockout round.

Without veteran striker Christine Sinclair's leadership — whose one goal accounted for 25% of her team’s entire offense in the tournament — Canada may have had an even more dismal run. The 36-year-old captain is the backbone of the team and plans to at least play in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, but given her age, her professional playing time is coming to a close.

Enter Evelyne Viens, USF women’s soccer top goal scorer.

No, I am most definitely not saying Viens should be the successor to the Canadian legend with 283 international caps who is just four away from breaking Abby Wambach’s record for most career international goals.

But when a spot is left vacant in the succession of strikers, there’s always room for someone new.

Now, why should Viens even be considered for the Canadian reserves?

Viens has what most young players don’t — a level head in the face of broken records and new legacies.

In her sensational junior season, she broke three program records: career goals (48), goals in a season (20) and points in a season (47).

Norwegian international Siri Nordby, who played for the Bulls from 1997 to 2000, previously held the record for career goals at 43.

If breaking an almost two-decade record isn't impressive, just remember that Viens did it in her junior year, meaning that the record should only grow.

Viens was also the joint top goal scorer in the NCAA in 2018. Boise State junior Raimee Sherle scored 20 goals in 1,587 minutes. Viens did it in 1,441.

Scoring goals is one thing, but showing up in deciding games is another. All too often we see proven strikers disappear in big games.

Viens didn’t let the pressure get the best of her as she scored the game-winner in the deciding game of USF’s AAC regular-season title win last season.

Aside from her success with USF, Viens also has experience playing against professionals. She plays for Dynamo de Quebec, which currently sits in second place in the semi-professional Première Ligue de soccer du Québec.

Seven games into the 2019 season, Viens leads the league with 10 goals.

Viens’ Dynamo teammate defensive-midfielder Gabrielle Carle, who plays for current NCAA national champion Florida State, played with the senior Canada team in the World Cup.

With Carle and Viens sitting in similar situations in terms of club soccer, it’s not too hard to think that Viens might have been at least considered by Canada. 

USF coach Denise Schilte-Brown, a fellow Canadian herself, has vouched for Viens and has been calling for her to join up with Canada for some time now.

“It’s my opinion that she could be in the full team in Canada right now … she’s ready when she’s needed," Schilte-Brown said after USF's 3-2 victory over Houston in October.

With Sinclair’s swan song on the horizon, the backing of Schilte-Brown and a remarkable career at USF still in progress, Viens chances of being noticed by Canada have slightly improved. 

Hopefully it's not a matter of if, but rather when, she'll join up with Canada.