Melanie Booth can’t be complaining about a lack of playing time with Canada’s senior Women’s National Soccer Team. In the team’s last three friendlies against the United States, Sweden, and Italy the Burlington resident has played 90 minutes in each game.
The defender, who celebrates her 22nd birthday on Aug. 24th, should expect no less playing time when Canada plays the first of a two-game series against China. Booth was named to roster and will play the first game for the 11th world ranked Canadians on Aug.19 in St. John’s, Nfld. The second game against the 8th world ranked Chinese, recent winners of the Asian World Cup Qualifying tournament is Aug.22 at the same George V Stadium in St. John’s.
For Booth, a standout at the University of Florida where she was Most Valuable player and team tri-captain, the games against Chine will be her 19th and 20th international caps with national team. She made her debut with the senior squad in March 2002 while still a member of the Under-19 team.
A graduate of Aldershot High School, Booth has been a standout with the Gators at Gainesville. She was All-Southern Conference First Team All-Star, Southeast Conference Defensive Player of the Week, SoccerFLA.com First Team (defender), National Soccer Coaches Association of America adidas All-America – First Team, and Soccer Buzz.com All-America for the third consecutive year.
With Florida, she averaged more than 80 minutes a game and was a starter for all 20 Gator games. Booth the booter tied for second in scoring, netting five goals and totalling 13 points.
Also named to the roster was Oakville’s Diana Matheson. The 22-year-old midfielder was recalled from the Ottawa Fury, runners up in the W-League.
Matheson has 45 international caps to her credit and has been with the National Team since March 2003. She was an immediate star at New Jersey’s Princeton University playing NCAA soccer.
The two-game set against China will mark the 14th and 15th time the two countries have met on the pitch. Only the U.S. (38 times) has played Canada more. Canada scored a 1-0 victory over the Chinese in the quarterfinals of the 2003 Women’s World Cup, so this series should prove interesting, says Canadian coach Even Pellerud.
“We have been waiting for a long time for the opportunity to showcase our senior players to our fans in the Maritimes and it would be hard to find a better opponent than the powerhouse team from China,” says Pellerud.
“As a top ranked team for the last 15 years, and coming off winning the Asian World Cup Qualifying Tournament last week, we could not ask for a better test than this highly talented and skilful team. The games will show two quite different ways of playing, and we should expect China to do their best to avenge their bitter Quarter Final defeat in the World Cup 2003.”
Pellerud returns 13 players from the roster that was beaten 2-0 by the United States on July 30 in Cary, North Carolina. In addition, he has recalled four players from W-League runners up, the Ottawa Fury, Matheson, Rhian Wilkinson, Robyn Gayle and Taryn Swiatek. Defender/midfielder, Erin Ramsay of the W-League champion, Vancouver Whitecaps rounds out the roster and will make her first ever appearance for the team.
Immediately following the matches in St. John’s, the Canadians will depart for Europe where they will close out August with two friendlies scheduled against France on Aug. 26 in Rouen and on Aug. 29 in Dieppe.