VAN DIEST: Evelyne Viens hopes to bring scoring punch to Canadian front line

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Evelyne Viens is hoping to provide a solution for a problem currently plaguing the Canadian national women’s soccer team.

Canada is considered one of the best teams in the world and have the greatest international goal scorer of all time on its side, but have struggled scoring of late.

Without Christine Sinclair at the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando, Fla., the door has opened for other strikers to showcase their abilities, looking for a spot on the Tokyo Olympic roster.

Viens, 24, made her first two international appearances for Canada at the tournament and is hoping a good performance against Brazil in the final game Wednesday can get her into Olympic conversations.

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“I’m really confident with this group of forwards because we have so much talent,” Viens said. “I think we have young players and a good group of veterans and we’ve been working on scoring. I think we’re ready for Brazil and we’re going to score some goals. We just need a little more time to keep working and, hopefully, we’ll score goals.”

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Canada has one goal in two matches at the tournament, losing 1-0 to the United States in its opening game and scoring a late winner to defeat Argentina 1-0 in its second contest.

Dating back to last year, Canada has scored three goals in five matches.

Sinclair is the all-time leading international scorer with 186 goals, but after that it drops off significantly for active players, with Janine Beckie having 31, while Adriana Leon, Sophie Schmidt and Diana Matheson each have 19.

Heading into the Olympics, Sinclair has a spot on the roster barring injury, but there is competition to join her up front. Particularly since rosters are reduced to 18 at the Olympics from the usual 23.

New Canadian head coach Bev Priestman may have difficult decisions to make for the Olympics. Canada has only two more games scheduled before Tokyo. Following the contest against Brazil, Canada have an exhibition game against England on April 13.

“I think everything is going to go fast from here and I think for me, as a striker, I just need to score goals at this level to show that I’m ready to play in the Olympics,” Viens said. “If I show that, maybe Bev will pick me.

“I think scoring is just about trusting your skills and your feelings. If you see a small pocket open, you just take it and that’s what I’ve been doing. I just need to trust myself at this international level that I can do it and it will happen.”

Viens had a great opportunity to score her first goal for Canada in the win against Argentina, but was unable to find the net with a header in the dying moments of the contest.

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The product of L’Ancienne-Lorette, Que., played at the University of South Florida before selected by Sky Blue FC fifth overall in the 2020 National Women’s Soccer League draft and making her debut with the club the Challenge Cup this past summer.

Viens, is currently on loan to Paris FC in France, where she’ll return following the SheBelieves Cup before rejoining Sky Blue for the upcoming NWSL season.

“Being in (national team) camp, I’m learning so much from the veterans and the coaching staff and I think right now, I just want to be able to do what I’ve been doing in professional and college and bring it to the senior level,” Viens said. “Sky Blue really helped me bring my college style of play in the professional league. I was able to trust what I was doing and just being able to do it at the professional level, so it was just getting used to the speed of professional play.

“Paris FC was more technical and there were some small things that I needed to work on and they helped me so much with technically with my passing and my first touch, just small details that I needed to improve.”

Viens has eight goals in 12 games with Paris FC and is hoping to be able to transfer that scoring prowess to the national team. It had been a long time coming for Viens to finally get the call up to play for Canada. And while it could have been frustrating watching younger players get an opportunity, she tried to keep a positive attitude.

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“I think for me it’s all about mindset,” Viens said. “For me, when I didn’t see my name to get called up, it was another opportunity to keep working on stuff I needed to work on. Right now, for me getting my first camp, I’m ready, I’ve had that experience at the pro level and mentally and physically I’m ready to show.

“I think it’s a good thing my first call up is right now, because I’m ready and I want to show what I can do. It was not frustration it was more working on myself so when I do get a call-up I want to be ready.”

Email: dvandiest@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest

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