Jordyn Huitema: Canada's rising star out to let her football do the talking at the Women's World Cup

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Jordyn Huitema Canada 2023
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After leaving PSG, the young striker has hit form with OL Reign this year and will hope to translate that onto the biggest stage in Australia

Jordyn Huitema's name has been in the headlines ever since she was 15 years old. A lot of the time, that has been for football reasons, such as when she became the third-youngest player ever to represent Canada’s senior team, its second-youngest goalscorer and the Golden Boot winner in the qualifying tournament for the 2021 Olympics, at which she'd help her nation win the gold medal.

But there’s always been an extra element of attention on the talented forward. Over time, her long-term relationship with Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies and current romance with baseball star Julio Rodriguez have prompted dumbed-down headlines for showbiz-style articles introducing you to this Olympic champion, a player who has won league titles in two different countries.

Huitema has been one of the most exciting young talents on the planet for several years now, though, and this Women’s World Cup feels like an opportune moment to really show everybody why. This young prodigy has been playing on big stages for over six years and, still just 22 years old, she appears primed and ready to make her mark on the biggest of them all in Australia.

  1. A promising talent

    A promising talent

    The hype around Huitema has been ripe ever since she stepped onto the pitch for Canada’s senior team in early 2017 at just 15 years old – and even before that in some circles, with the forward shining in the youth teams, too.

    Named Canada's Under-17 Female Player of the Year in 2017 and picking up its U20 award 12 months later, she was a regular contender for Golden Boots in the CONCACAF tournaments while still being eased into the senior set-up. Indeed, in 2017, she became the first Canadian to score for the U17, U20 and senior national teams in the same calendar year.

    Within 18 months of her debut for the latter, she was playing for Paris Saint-Germain in a friendly tournament and, after weighing up offers from some of the top college soccer programmes in the United States, she would forgo that chapter and instead sign for the French giants at the age of 17.

    At that time, it was an extreme rarity for a young talent in North America not to pass through the college system. It only added to the excitement of what she could go on to achieve with the ability she was already showing that she had.

  2. Historic achievements

    Historic achievements

    What Huitema would continue to add to her CV as a teenager was incredible, with her going to the World Cup in 2019 and winning the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship’s Golden Boot in 2020.

    Shortly after celebrating her 20th birthday, the milestones got even bigger, too. That year, she was part of the PSG team that won its first-ever league title on the women’s side and, just a few months later, also a member of the Canada squad that won Olympic gold.

    Still so young, Huitema wasn’t playing a leading role just yet, but the experiences she was collecting were incredibly valuable.

  3. Time to make her mark

    Time to make her mark

    Now 22 years old, the pressure has grown on Huitema to make that jump and become a key figure, to assert herself on the biggest stages in a way that she’s not quite done yet.

    After three years, her time with PSG came to an end last summer, with her final stats reading as 67 games played and 18 goals scored in the centre-forward position. It must be mentioned that a large number of her appearances came as a substitute, but many expected her to become a regular starter over time and she just didn’t seem to make the impact in the chances she was given to make that happen.

    There’s no doubt that Huitema has big, big talent, but she’s starting to near the age where we don’t talk about potential as much anymore and start to expect results. It’s time to prove she can deliver.

  4. Finding form

    Finding form

    After leaving PSG, Huitema signed for NWSL side OL Reign as the second half of the season in the U.S. prepared to get underway. Joining a new team midway through the campaign, judging her on the first few months of her time in the north west would’ve been harsh as the forward found her feet in a new environment and began to build relationships with her new team-mates.

    That she managed to get off the mark and score a couple of goals before the season's end was a positive, and it feels like she is now starting to find some form, entering the World Cup having scored four times for her club since netting for Canada against France in the April international break.

    “As a forward, everybody knows that you have a monkey on your shoulder at the beginning of a season and once you get it off, it's when the gates open,” she said in early May, after netting in a 2-0 win over the Houston Dash. “I think that everybody struggles with it at times. Getting that first one felt great and I think even just the one with Canada started that off, to come back confident and progress out of that.”

    In the same post-match press conference, team-mate Veronica Latsko praised the forward’s work on the training pitch and the qualities she can bring to a team. “You look up, you see Jordyn Huitema at the back post, you get the ball to the back post. It's kind of self-explanatory,” she said, having done exactly that in the match to assist her goal.

    It’s clear that she brings some top traits to the role as a centre-forward and we’re really starting to see those on a consistent basis now as she settles well into life as a Reign player.

  5. No better moment

    No better moment

    So, now, can Huitema translate that form and rhythm from club level to the national team at this Women’s World Cup? It’s clear that the consistency of game time with the Reign is helping her to find the back of the net and so the role she will play with Canada in Australia could be significant. It’s not abundantly clear who head coach Bev Priestman will pick to lead the line in this tournament, with her giving opportunities to several different players in that role so far in 2023.

    But Huitema scored when she started in the team’s last official friendly against France and she’s well in contention to be in that XI when the first game against Nigeria comes around.

    There is arguably no better moment for her to step up and prove she can be a reliable goalscorer at the top of the pitch, either. Operating in the No.10 role is Christine Sinclair, the all-time top goalscorer in international football, a player who we are almost certainly seeing for the very last time at a World Cup, with her having celebrated her 40th birthday last month.

    Throughout her career to date, Huitema has so often drawn comparisons to the Canada icon, comparisons which can be complimentary but also a burden. That said, she has the potential to be able to step up when Sinclair does choose to call it a day and become a talismanic figure for this nation, one that doesn’t score as many goals as it should with the attacking options it has.

    But once again, we’re talking about potential here. Huitema might still be just 22 years old but she’s got the experience and the talent to turn that into much more than promise. She’s ready to show how good she can be.