Canada head coach Benito Floro already has a good idea which players will form his team’s core in the years ahead – but next week, a number of youngsters will have the opportunity to try to change his mind.
On Friday, the Canadian Soccer Association unveiled the 24-man roster that Floro will bring to training camp in Austria from May 18 to 28, with plenty of young and inexperienced players getting the call alongside a number of familiar veterans. The team will play its first two international games of the year during that camp, against Bulgaria (May 23) and Moldova (May 27).
With North American leagues in season, the roster is almost entirely comprised of European-based players, with only three locally-based players – Jeremy Gagnon-Laparé (Montreal Impact U23s), Bryce Alderson (Vancouver Whitecaps) and Cyle Larin (University of Connecticut) – making the trip.
Caleb Clarke, 20, is also a part of the Whitecaps, but has been on loan this season at FC Augsburg II, where he’s scored eight goals. Meanwhile Larin, a 19-year-old from Brampton, Ontario, is another goalscorer, having led the Huskies with 14 goals in 22 games during a standout freshman season in NCAA play.
Given Canada’s recent scoring troubles – just one goal in its past 13 games – the scoring touch of youngsters like Clarke (pictured above) and Larin could be just what the doctor ordered.
Several other players also have links to local clubs. Randy Edwini-Bonsu and Adam Straith are both products of the Vancouver Whitecaps Residency – during the team’s pre-MLS days – while Keven Aleman and Tyler Pasher recently spent time at the Toronto FC Academy.
Roberto Stillo – who made the effort of introducing himself to Floro on the day the Spaniard was announced as Canada’s head coach last summer – will likely back up veteran Milan Borjan in goal, while fellow goalkeeper Ricky Gomes, just 20 years old, will join the senior men’s national team for the first time.
A disastrous 2013 (no wins in 13 games) has seen Canada slide to No. 110 in the FIFA rankings. Bulgaria sit at No. 73, while Moldova sit at No. 99. Results against either UEFA opponent would provide valuable FIFA ranking points as Floro and his troops look ahead to next year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup and, not long after, the start of the qualifying process for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
COMPLETE CANADA ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS: Milan Borjan (unattached); Roberto Stillo (AC Perugia/Italy); Ricky Gomes (Uniao Mentamor/Portugal)
DEFENDERS: Nik Ledgerwood (MSV Duisburg/Germany); Jeremy Gagnon-Laparé (Montreal Impact); Andre Hainault (VfR Aalen/Germany); Adam Straith (Wehen Weisbaden/Germany); Daniel Stanese (FC Augsburg II/Germany); Tyler Pasher (Kemi Kings/Finland); Manjrekar James (PMFC Matias/Hungary); David Edgar (Burnley/England); Luca Gasparotto (Rangers/Scotland)
MIDFIELDERS: Julian de Guzman (Skoda Xanthi/Greece); Pedro Pacheco (CD Santa Clara/Portugal); Samuel Piette (Fortuna Dusseldorf/Germany); Keven Aleman (Real Valladolid/Spain); Atiba Hutchinson (Besiktas/Turkey); Bryce Alderson (Vancouver Whitecaps); Randy Edwini-Bonsu (Stuttgarter Kickers); Daniel Haber (Apollon Limassol)
FORWARDS: Tosaint Ricketts (Bucaspor/Turkey); Simeon Jackson (Millwall/England); Caleb Clarke (FC Augsburg II/Germany); Cyle Larin (University of Connecticut)