Canada call up six MLS players for World Cup qualifiers
It was easy pickings for Canadian national team manager Stephen Hart when it came to the 22 names he selected for upcoming World Cup qualifying matches.
That's how Hart characterized it on a Thursday conference call with Canadian media after unveiling the players he will assemble for a camp in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ahead of the Canadian Soccer Association’s centennial match against the United States and CONCACAF qualifying matches at Cuba (June 8) and home to Honduras (June 11).
“Putting the squad together was not that difficult,” admitted Hart. “I’m happy with the team that’s there.”
The squad included six MLS players, who will report to the Florida camp after league matches on May 26. Toronto's Terry Dunfield and Montreal's Patrice Bernier were under consideration despite not making the 22-man cut.
"[Bernier] has not been playing consistently and I would like to see him fight his way into the squad more consistently," Hart said. "I didn't want too many similar players, but [Dunfield's] playing fairly regularly now and this is the opening part of qualification, so I'll keep an eye on him so I'll see how he goes."
While the majority of the players selected were involved in Canada’s qualifiers last year and the friendly against Armenia in February, the two surprise inclusions were 17-year-old Samuel Piette and Issey Nakajima-Farran.
WATCH: Canada's 22-man roster unveiling
Piette impressed with the Under-23 squad in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament in March and looks to be finalizing a deal that would see him join Fortuna Dusseldorf, who were promoted to the German Bundesliga for next season.
“We’ll see how he does,” said Hart, who included Piette in the Canadian squad for the Armenia friendly in February and rates the diminutive midfielder very highly. “He did quite well at the Under-23s. He passed the ball well, he played well.”
Nakajima-Farran, meanwhile, was most recently a member of the Australian A-League champions Brisbane Roar but was seldom-used in the last few weeks of the season. He hasn’t played for Canada since coming on as a late second-half substitute in Canada’s 1-0 friendly win over Belarus in March of last year.
“I thought he did very well in Australia,” said Hart. “He played basically two positions behind the striker and in the wide position. He was very mobile. I thought it would be a good time to bring in him and see how that could be transferred to the national team.”
CANADIAN NATIONAL TEAM CALL-UPS
Goalkeepers (3): Lars Hirschfeld (Vålerenga/Norway), Milan Borjan (Vaslui/Romania), Kenny Stamatopoulos (AIK/Sweden)
Defenders (7): Nik Ledgerwood (Wehen Wiesbaden/Germany), Andre Hainault (Houston Dynamo), David Edgar (Burnley/England), Kevin McKenna (FC Köln/Germany), Mike Klukowski (Manisaspor/Turkey), Ante Jazic (Chivas USA), Ashtone Morgan (Toronto FC)
Midfielders (8): Julian de Guzman (Toronto FC), Will Johnson (Real Salt Lake), Josh Simpson (Young Boys/Switzerland), Atiba Hutchinson (PSV Eindhoven/Netherlands), Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United), Pedro Pacheco (CD Santa Clara/Portugal), Samuel Piette (unattached), Issey Nakajima-Farran (Brisbane Roar/Australia)
Forwards (4): Iain Hume (Preston North End/England), Olivier Occean (Greuther Fürth/Germany), Simeon Jackson (Norwich City/England), Tosaint Ricketts (Politehnica Timisoara/Romania)