5 of Canada’s Olympic gold-medal soccer players prepare to tackle Women’s Super League

Fresh off a historic victory at Tokyo 2020, Canadian women’s team forward Deanne Rose is about to take a massive leap in her budding career.

Rose, a 22-year-old native of Alliston, Ont., has been a mainstay with Canada’s national side ever since making her debut in 2015, collecting 61 caps in service of her country while scoring 10 goals and tallying eight assists along the way.

But now Rose is set to turn professional, as she will be one of five members of Canada’s gold-medal team who will compete in the FA Women’s Super League, the English first division.

The 2021-22 FA WSL campaign kicks off on Friday with Reading FC visiting Manchester United. If all goes to plan, Rose will make her pro debut for Reading, nicknamed “The Royals,” and who finished seventh (out of 12 teams) in the FA WSL in 2020-21.

This has been a long time coming for Rose, considered one of the Canadian team’s top young prospects. She’s spent the last four years playing NCAA soccer at the University of Florida, where she scored 19 goals and was named the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2017.

WATCH | Deanne Rose discusses how she improved during the pandemic:

How Canadian striker Deanne Rose conquered her senior year in a pandemic

Deanne Rose speaks with Signa Butler about going in the first round of the NWSL draft, dealing with the pandemic, and the SheBelieves cup. 3:07

Rose was selected 10th overall by the North Carolina Courage in the 2021 National Women’s Soccer League Draft in January, but opted to stay in school rather than turn pro early, and then she surprisingly signed with Reading in July while the Olympic tournament was still going on.

Forgoing the home comforts of the NWSL in favour of the FA WSL was a bold move for Rose.

A speedy forward who can unbalance opposing defenders with her direct runs when she’s in possession, Rose has come up big for Canada in crucial moments, including scoring in the bronze-medal win at Rio 2016 and converting her penalty in the shootout victory against Sweden in Tokyo.

Now she wants to test herself in one of Europe’s top pro leagues and take the next step in her development.

Carving out a path overseas

Midfielder Jessie Fleming knows exactly what Rose is about to go through in England. The native of London, Ont., made her professional debut in 2020-21 and had a small role in helping Chelsea repeat as FA WSL champions after four years at UCLA.

Fleming has been a key starter for Canada ever since debuting as a teenager in 2013. But she was a depth player at Chelsea last season, limited to 14 appearances (three starts) in the FA WSL, while the team’s more experienced midfielders ahead of her in the depth chart gobble up the majority of the playing time.

The 23-year-old is coming off a tremendous run at the Tokyo Olympics where she scored two goals, including one in the penalty shootout against Sweden, and served as the key cog in Canada’s midfield.

The hope is that she can build upon that in her second season at Chelsea, as the Blues look to make it three FA WSL titles in a row.

WATCH | Jessie Fleming converts in penalty shootout of gold-medal game:

Jessie Fleming converts clutch penalty kick, again, to pull Canada even

The 23-year-old Canadian scored a penalty kick for the second-straight game as she evened the gold-medal match vs Sweden at 1-1. 0:57

Defender Shelina Zadorsky, 28, was sent on loan by the NWSL’s Orlando Pride to the FA WSL last August, and the Canadian centre back quickly became a starter for Tottenham.

The Spurs were so impressed with Zadorsky that they signed her to a permanent deal in January and also gave her the captain’s armband for a few games. The London, Ont., native then inked a contract extension in May, another sign of just how important she’s become to Spurs.

Adriana Leon, 28, has been in the FA WSL with West Ham United since 2019 after spending the previous three seasons in the NWSL with three different clubs. Leon, from Mississauga, Ont., appears to have found a comfortable home in England despite her modest tally of seven goals over the course of three years.

But Leon is riding high after scoring against Great Britain in Tokyo, her 20th goal for Canada, and is eager to hit the ground running this season after sustaining a foot injury in February that ruled her out for most of the second half of the 2020-21 FA WSL campaign.

West Ham United’s Adriana Leon, left, controls the ball during the FA Women’s Continental League Cup semifinal match against Chelsea last February in Kingston upon Thames, England. (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Fellow forward Janine Beckie, 27, was a key figure for Manchester City last season, helping the Blues finish in second place in the FA WSL and reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League. Beckie scored seven goals in 25 appearances in all competitions, including the opener in a 2-1 win over FC Barcelona in the Champions League.

Beckie ranks as Canada’s fifth all-time leading scorer with 33 goals in 81 games (including a pair of goals in Tokyo), and second amongst all active players, behind only Christine Sinclair, but her game has significantly grown since going to the FA WSL.

WATCH | Janine Beckie nets 2nd goal in Canada’s win over Chile at Tokyo Games:

Janine Beckie’s brace gives Canada 2-goal lead over Chile

Forward Janine Beckie scores early in the 2nd half as Canada takes a 2-0 lead over Chile. 1:18

Ever since making the move to Man City from the NWSL’s Houston Dash in 2018, she has become a more technically proficient and well-rounded player, which has benefited the Canadian women’s team.

Now set to compete in her fourth FA WSL season, Beckie — a dual citizen of Canada and the United States — will be looking to help Manchester City win its first league title since 2016, after finishing runners-up in each of the last four years.



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