National keepers detail friendly rivalry
Sydney Schneider started the national senior women's FIFA World Cup campaign last year as the first choice goalkeeper. With stellar performances throughout the Concacaf Women's Championship tournament, she had earned a reputation as one of the best shot stoppers in the region and one to watch heading into the World Cup in France next month.
"Honestly, I was just doing what I'm supposed to do and that's my job," Schneider told STAR Sports. "I was there for my team but when the ball's near the goalkeeper, all eyes are on them and it's a bigger platform."
However, her understudy Nicole McClure also made a name for herself in the regional tournament when she was subbed in the third-place match against Panama late in extra time, with the game at 2-2 and a penalty shoot-out seeming imminent. McClure came out of the shoot-out with her head held high having saved two shots and helping Jamaica to secure a historic first World Cup berth.
She says that head coach Hue Menzies had not discussed the possibility of her being substituted in for penalties as she was caught unawares when told she was going to replace Schneider.
"It was an in the moment decision from the coaches," McClure said. "So as soon as they told me to go in, I put on my gloves and started getting warmed up. Was I nervous? Not at all. It's our job, so just waiting for the moment to help the team and to propel us and here we are."
The Reggae Girlz have been playing international friendlies to prepare for the World Cup and McClure has started all the games. These are a 1-0 win against Chile, followed by a 3-2 win in a rematch days later, then a 1-1 draw with South Africa. McClure has impressed in all these fixtures and has sparked speculation of whether she can take the number one jersey from Schneider in France.
Do Our Best
"It's for the coaches to decide," McClure said. "We just do our job in training, but, hopefully, we can just do our best for the team."
Schneider welcomes McClure's strong showings, saying it helps her ward off complacency.
"It just makes us both better," she said. "We kinda feed off each other. If one's doing well, we kinda push ourselves because we want to be better. So it's a really competitive environment and it just pushes us to be better."
McClure agrees with her.
"It keeps us accountable of our performance in training and puts more pressure on the coaching staff to select one of us for the matches."
Menzies has not yet named his final 23 for the trip to France but said a decision will be made soon. However, he did not say who will get the starting spot in goal.