If the current version of the Canadian Under-20 squad is any indication, Canada’s MLS teams are starting to churn out the next generation that will represent the Maple Leaf at the international level.
The squad has been in Mexico since Monday to prepare for two friendlies against their hosts on Friday and Sunday. Included in head coach Nick Dasovic’s 20-man squad are 11 players currently involved in either the academies or the first teams of Canada’s MLS franchises.
Canada hasn’t participated in the FIFA U-20 World Cup since hosting the tournament in 2007. On that occasion, Canada didn’t register a single point and crashed out, finishing last in their group.
This is the second camp Dasovic has held with his players, following a training camp in December of last year. Both have been focused on building for the 2013 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship that takes place in Mexico during February and March of 2013. Four teams from that tournament will advance to next summer’s FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Turkey.
Mexico knocked Canada out of contention for the 2011 U-20 World Cup by beating the Canadians 3-0 in the quarterfinals at the qualifying tournament held in Guatemala. Mexico went on to pick up a third-place finish at the World Cup in Colombia.
There is some World Cup experience in the squad, however, as four members of the Under-17 team that played in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico last year are included in the squad.
Bryce Alderson (above, left) of Vancouver Whitecaps FC was the captain of the U-17 team during that tournament in Mexico and also played for the Under-23 team in Olympic qualifying earlier this year. Keven Aleman, formerly of the Toronto FC Academy and now in the Real Valladolid system in Spain, is also in the squad. Aleman is also eligible to play for Costa Rica but has, to this point, represented Canada at the youth levels.
Goalkeepers (2): Ricky Gomes (Vitória FC, Portugal), Callum Irving (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency)
Defenders (7): Ben McKendry (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency), Nikola Paunic (Toronto FC Academy), Daniel Stanese (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency), Skylar Thomas (Toronto FC Academy), Dino Gardner (FC Edmonton), Jordan Murrell (Toronto FC Academy), Tyler Pasher (Toronto FC Academy)
Midfielders (8): Mauro Eustaquio (União de Leiria, Portugal), Jonathan Lao (FC Rot-Weiss Erfurt, Germany), Keven Aleman (Real Valladolid, Spain), Shadrack Mmunga (FC Metz, France), Ben Fisk (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency), Bryce Alderson (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Oscar Cordon (Toronto FC), Alessandro Riggi (unattached)
Forwards (3): Yassin Essa (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency), Christian Travaglini (SSD Teramo Calcio, Italy), Stefan Vukovic (Académie Impact Montreal)