Earlier this month, the greatest player in USF women’s soccer history was called up to potentially represent her country.
Evelyne Viens was named to the Canadian provisional roster ahead of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship, and for the first time in her career, there was hope of her donning the famous red kit of Les Rouges.
A week and a day later, the dream was cut. And so was Viens. The final squad was announced, and Viens wasn’t on it.
It was nothing short of a head-scratcher — she holds the AAC record for most career goals (64), was tied for second in the nation with total goals scored her senior year (25) and was tied for top her junior year (20).
Why, O’ Canada, is Viens not a part of the team?
The short answer is that there isn’t any room — the current lineup is saturated with talented forwards.
There are currently six strikers on the final roster, including Janine Beckie and 36-year-old captain Christine Sinclair.
On top of that, each striker has experience with the team. Even Jordyn Huitema, 18-year-old striker for French club Paris Saint-Germain, has 25 appearances.
Canada has taken part in just three Olympic games. In Beijing 2008, Canada finished eighth and in both London 2012 and Brazil 2016 it finished with bronze.
This might be the aging Sinclair’s final chance to lead Canada to more than bronze. It feels like an all-or-nothing mentality, and picking Viens ahead of anyone tried and tested just isn’t a good tactic.
However, what’s really puzzling is just hours before Viens was snubbed by Canada, she was drafted No. 5 overall in the 2020 National Women’s Soccer League Draft by Sky Blue FC.
Viens is now the second-highest Canadian selected in the draft, behind former Duke defender Rebecca Quinn, who was drafted third by the Washington Spirit in 2018.
Viens passed Nkem Ezurike and Beckie, who went eighth in the 2014 and 2016 drafts, respectively.
Going so high in the draft has to mean something, right?
The Canadians likely want to see that their players can hack it at a high level. That makes logical sense, sure, but four players on the current roster are collegiate athletes — Jayde Riviere with Michigan, Gabrielle Carle with FSU, Jessie Fleming with UCLA and Deanne Rose with UF.
Surely Canada saw the first-round matchup between USF and UF in the 2019 NCAA tournament. And surely Canada saw Viens’ hat trick in the 4-2 win that boosted the Bulls to the next round.
Or were they too busy looking for Rose’s sole goal?
At the end of the day, Viens’ omission on Canada’s roster makes some sense — it’s potentially one last shot for Sinclair, so make it count. Not mixing it up and sticking to the tried and tested is a logical route for Canada.
But one can’t help but be puzzled.
If Sinclair, Beckie and Fleming — who incredibly has 69 appearances at age 21 — are Canada’s first choices at the line, then what harm will it cause to mix up the second, third and fourth choices?
There’s no doubt Viens will make it one day. Just not now. She was so close, but Canada just didn’t think she was ready for whatever reason.
Now that Viens is part of a star-studded Sky Blue FC roster that includes two-time World Cup winner Carli Lloyd and the recently signed Mallory Pugh, Viens has a chance to learn from the best and can only get better.
It’ll only be a matter of time until Canada comes knocking again.