Veteran midfielder Diana Matheson returns to national team after one-year absence
Canada's Diana Matheson jogs during a FIFA Women's World Cup soccer practice session in Vancouver on June 24, 2015. Veteran Diana Matheson returns to the national team after a one-year injury absence for the Tournoi de France, an elite women's soccer tournament. Coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller announced his squad Tuesday for the tournament that will see eighth-ranked Canada take on the third-ranked Netherlands, No. 4 France and No. 9 Brazil next month in Calais. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, February 25, 2020 1:19PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 25, 2020 1:20PM EST
TORONTO -- Veteran Diana Matheson returns to the national team after a one-year injury absence for the Tournoi de France, an elite women's soccer tournament.
Coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller announced his squad Tuesday for the tournament that will see eighth-ranked Canada take on the third-ranked Netherlands, No. 4 France and No. 9 Brazil next month in Calais.
The 35-year-old Matheson won the last of her 203 caps in March 2019 at the Algarve Cup. The attacking midfielder from Oakville, Ont., was sidelined by a toe injury that required surgery. She was ruled out of last summer's World Cup, serving instead as a TV pundit.
She has missed the last 17 national-team games, during which the Canadian women went 10-5-2.
Eighth-ranked Canada takes on No. 4 France on March 4 before facing the third-ranked Netherlands on March 7 and No. 9 Brazil on March 10 with all three matches at Stade de l'Epopee.
It's the same squad Heiner-Moller took to the recent CONCACAF Olympic qualifier plus Matheson and defender Vanessa Gilles.
"This four-nation tournament will be a great opportunity for preparing ourselves for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games," Heiner-Moller said in a statement. "It is crucial as a program that we deliver a massive performance at the women's Olympic football tournament in Japan. The tournament in France will give us the opportunity to face great oppositions and to measure ourselves against some of the top football teams in the world."
Like Canada, the Netherlands and Brazil have also already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.
It's high-level opposition -- teams the Canadian women have history with.
Canada is 5-6-3 against France, including a 1-0 quarterfinal victory at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Canada also beat France 1-0 for the bronze medal at the 2012 London Games. The French won 1-0 last time out in a April 2018 friendly in Rennes.
The Canadians are 9-1-3 against the Dutch with the lone loss (2-1) coming last time out in group play at last summer's World Cup. Captain Christine Sinclair scored in that game, marking the fifth World Cup she has scored in -- a record.
Canada is 8-8-6 all-time against Brazil. The Canadians won when the two teams met for the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, but Brazil triumphed 4-0 last time out when they met in a tournament in China in November.
Seventeen of the 22 Canadians on the French tournament roster were part of the team that won bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Matheson, Sinclair, Sophie Schmidt and Desiree Scott were also bronze medallists in 2012 at the London Games.
Excluding Matheson and Gilles, 20 players on the squad were part of the World Cup roster in France.
It's the first outing for Canada since the Olympic qualifier that saw Sinclair set the world's all-time international scoring record with her 185th goal on Jan. 29 in Edinburg, Texas.
The 35-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., is also Canada's leader in international appearances at 293.
The Canadian roster includes teenagers Jordyn Huitema (18), Julia Grosso and Jayde Riviere (both 19).
Matheson is no stranger to injuries.
She won the battle to make the 2015 World Cup roster after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament in a 3-0 friendly loss to Japan in October 2014. Named to the team, she was an unused substitute for the first four games before starting the quarterfinal loss against England.
Matheson had knee surgery to repair torn cartilage in her knee in November 2011. The recovery time was longer than expected but she recovered to play in the 2012 Olympics, scoring the decisive stoppage-time goal against France.
Prior to the 2019 Algarve Cup, Matheson was not summoned for a camp in Spain and friendly win over Norway as an injury precaution. Matheson had played at the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament in October 2018.