Christine Sinclair leads the list of 16 Canadian internationals headed to the fledgling National Women’s Soccer League with the Canadian Soccer Association picking up their tab.
U.S. Soccer is funding 23 of its international players while the Federation of Mexican Football will pay the freight for 16 of its players in the new league, which will begin play this spring.
The international players will be assigned teams on Friday.
The eight-team league, organized and administered by the U.S. Soccer Federation, is made up of the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, FC Kansas City, Portland Thorns FC, Sky Blue FC (New York/New Jersey), Seattle Reign FC, the Washington Spirit and the Western New York Flash.
All but one of the eight teams will receive three U.S. internationals. Each club will also get two of the Canadians and two of the Mexicans.
The allocation process will draw on a panel of experts in conjunction with player and club requests.
“The allocation will provide each club with a foundation of talent to build a competitive roster,” NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey said in a statement. “Ultimately, the goal is to pair the teams and players in such a way that we achieve a fair distribution of talent across all eight teams.
“This is another important step as we continue to build towards the inaugural season of the National Women’s Soccer League.”
The 16 Canadians were chosen by national team coach John Herdman, currently in China with his team at the Yongchuan Cup.
“The selection process wasn’t easy. In a perfect world we would be able to offer contracts to all the players in the program,” Herdman said in a statement. “Ultimately we have a responsibility towards the future of our game to ensure we prepare the next generation as much as we value our veteran players.”
Of the 16 Canadians chosen, 13 were part of the team that won bronze at the London Olympics while Adriana Leon played for in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Japan 2012. Defender-midfielder Bryana McCarthy and midfielder-forward Jodi-Ann Robinson are returning to the national team program.
Melissa Tancredi was not on the NWSL list. A CSA spokeswoman said Tancredi is going back to school full time and won’t be playing with a club. National team staff have given her a training program but she is not expected to be part of the team over the winter.
The other players chosen by Herdman to receive pro contracts are Melanie Booth, Robyn Gayle, Kaylyn Kyle, Karina LeBlanc, Adriana Leon, Diana Matheson, Bryanna McCarthy, Erin McLeod, Carmelina Moscato, Jodi-Ann Robinson, Sophie Schmidt, Desiree Scott, Lauren Sesselmann, Rhian Wilkinson and Emily Zurrer.
All 18 U.S. players on the gold medal-winning 2012 Olympic team are included in the American allocation.