For a teenager, training with a senior men’s national team for the first time can be an intimidating experience. But having a longtime friend and teammate right alongside you can make it a lot easier.
That’s the scenario for midfielders Dylan Carreiro and Michael Petrasso, who were teammates at the Toronto FC Academy before making the jump to Queens Park Rangers’ Elite Development Squad and who are now both taking part in their first training camp with the senior Canadian national team.
“It seems like everywhere we go, we end up together,” Petrasso, 18, told MLSsoccer.com over the phone from London, where Canada are preparing for next Tuesday's friendly against Australia at Craven Cottage (3 pm ET, streamed on Sportsnet.ca).
Head coach Benito Floro’s roster includes youngsters such as Petrasso and Carreiro alongside veterans such as Dwayne De Rosario and Julian de Guzman. While Petrasso and Carreiro will not play in the friendly, just training with the senior team is already making an impact on the duo.
“You dream about playing for the senior team your whole life,” said Carreiro (pictured above), also 18. “Being involved in the camp, it motivates you. It’s good seeing all the older lads and the experience they have, and they’re bringing it to you.”
The QPR duo said it has been beneficial to have each other to rely on and talk to as they navigate the senior men’s team for the first time. But they’ve also had the help of their manager at QPR, Marc Bircham, a former Canadian international himself.
“[Bircham] has some stories about when him and Jimmy Brennan and Danny Dichio were together,” Carreiro said. “Good stories, because we were with Danny and Jimmy for three years [at Toronto FC Academy], so it’s funny to hear stories about their past experiences.”
The youngsters are both well spoken and articulate, surely a byproduct of having already been involved in professional setups for several years. When it comes to describing their styles of play, both provide answers suggesting they could be impact players for the national team in the not-too-distant future.
“I think my pace is quite a factor,” Petrasso said. “I’m good at getting in behind, and when I get on the ball, I’m good in one-v-one situations.”
As for Carreiro: “I’m a player that likes to get on the ball a lot and make a lot of positive things happen – get forward a lot, create chances and also try and score some goals.”
The two are not new to the Canadian setup by any means; both have worked their way up the youth ranks, most recently as teammates at this year’s CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, and as players born in 1995, they both remain eligible for Canada's attempt to qualify for the 2015 U-20 World Cup as well.
Carreiro, from Winnipeg, and Petrasso, from the Toronto suburb of Woodbridge, are part of the upcoming generation of Canadian youngsters and are optimistic about the affect they could have with the senior national team.
“[The future is] looking bright right now,” Petrasso said, with Carreiro adding: “I think that we’re going to be a strong team. We’re going to be competition for everyone.”