Remember this name: Kadeisha Buchanan. At just 17, she’s turning heads and has already made her mark against some of the world’s best players.
A little over a week ago, she was the talk of the press box, as the Canadian Women’s Soccer Team hosted the US in front of a capacity crowd at BMO Field in Toronto. Her task that game was a big one: mark Abby Wambach. The gifted American forward searched for a goal on her 33rd birthday, but Buchanan had other ideas. The young center back marked Wambach diligently and kept her off the scoresheet.
Media members, both Canadian and American, were absolutely buzzing about Buchanan and her fantastic performance. She looked like a seasoned veteran on that backline. In the second half, she single-handedly stopped two goals from finding the back of the net. One was a fantastic block on a shot by Alex Morgan and the second was a goal line clearance on a powerful Wambach shot. All you could hear in the press box was “Wow!” and “Can you believe she just did that?” with a bit of “She’s incredible!”.
Buchanan was named Canadian player of the game. Head coach John Herdman raved about her in his post-match media conference:
“She’s unbelievable. She owned Abby Wambach….A 17-year-old kid out there and did an unbelievable job. I’m proud of her. She’s shined a light for any kid in this country to say, ‘Look, no matter what background or where you’re from, you can play in front of 23,000 people’.”
A throng of media waited for the players in the mix zone to get their thoughts after the homecoming match. The largest crowd huddled around captain Christine Sinclair. It was Buchanan though who generated the second largest crowd. As she made her way down the line, I was standing by myself and I asked her if she had a moment. We chatted briefly. I asked her about the pressure of playing in front of Canadian fans and what it was like marking world-class players like Wambach:
“I felt honored to cover her. She’s a very good, talented player and I’m just lucky enough to get a chance to mark her. My next step is to inspire more fans.”
She also told me in her soft-spoken voice her next goal is to get her degree and set a standard at West Virginia University. At this point, the other journalists joined me and the crowd around her began to grow. I’m sure it’s a scene she’ll get used to very soon.
June 2nd was Buchanan’s first game as a member of the senior squad on home soil. On that day in Toronto, she wore number 9, which is fitting. For the larger part of a decade, it has been worn by one of the best center backs in Canadian history, Candace Chapman. Buchanan is definitely following in Chapman’s footsteps.
Canadians will be seeing a lot of Buchanan in the future. She’ll still be eligible to represent Canada at the U20 Women’s World Cup next year and she’s well on her way to solidifying a spot on the 2015 Women’s World Cup roster.
Right now, Sinclair continues to be the face of the national team and Canadian women’s sports in general. There’s been plenty of discussion among fans and the media about an eventual passing of the torch. So, who will be Canada’s next soccer star? Say hello to Kadeisha Buchanan.