Neil Davidson –
Canada’s World Cup hopes took a body blow Friday with news that Janine Beckie has been sidelined by a torn anterior cruciate in her right knee.
Beckie was taken off on a stretcher in the 19th minute of the Portland Thorns’ 4-1 home pre-season win Wednesday over the U.S. women’s under-23 team.
“Heartbroken is an understatement,” Beckie wrote in a Twitter post Friday.
“Having worked so hard during the off-season for what was set to be one of the biggest seasons of my career, defending the title for Portland Thorns and of course playing in the World Cup for Canada, being out for an extended period of time is a difficult pill to swallow.”
The 28-year-old winger will have surgery in the coming weeks to repair the season-ending injury, the Thorns said in a statement.
That rules Beckie out of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Olympic champion Canada, ranked sixth in the world, is slated to kick off its World Cup campaign July 20 against Nigeria in Australia.
Beckie, who celebrated her 100th cap for Canada against Brazil in Nashville at last month’s SheBelieves Cup, is one of the first names on Canada coach Bev Priestman’s lineup card.
Beckie is able to play a variety of positions, go at goal or deliver a telling cross.
“She could probably play right back, right wing, right left wing, midfield, to be honest,” Priestman said in advance of the Brazil game. “I actually think she’s played the (No.) 9 and goalkeeper.”
Beckie, after scoring twice, did appear in goal for Canada’s 5-2 win over Ecuador at the 2015 Pan American Games when ‘keeper Stephanie Labbe was sent off.
“I think Janine’s true football quality is what makes her so versatile,” Priestman continued. “And then you go and add her athleticism ΓÇª She’s not only contributing to this team on the pitch but also off the pitch. She’s grown in her leadership and is just an incredible human being.”
Beckie, who earned her 101st cap in a 3-0 loss to Japan in Frisco, Texas, in the SheBelieves Cup finale, has 36 goals and 17 assists since making her senior debut in November 2014 at the age of 20.
“There’s a long way to go for Janine. I think that’s the exciting thing,” Priestman said at the SheBelieves Cup. “She probably hasn’t reached her true potential yet, albeit she’s had some incredible performances and been a key contributor to everything this team’s done.”
Off the field, Beckie is one of four players representing the team in the ongoing labour dispute with Canada Soccer.
Beckie, captain Christine Sinclair, Sophie Schmidt and Quinn, who goes by one name, appeared earlier this month before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage at the House of Commons in Ottawa.
Beckie could still get to the World Cup, albeit not in her preferred role.
She earned kudos for her work as a TV analyst for TSN during the recent men’s soccer World Cup in Qatar.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2023.