For Canada, the time for tinkering is over – now it’s time to go out and get results.
And head coach Benito Floro’s team – which is winless in its last 16 international matches, dating back to a 3-0 victory against Cuba in World Cup qualifying back on Oct. 12, 2012 – will be desperate to earn a victory against Jamaica on Sept. 9, to try and build some momentum ahead of next summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.
On Thursday, Floro released the 24-man roster for the upcoming training camp and game, his first in Canada since taking over as manager on Aug. 1, 2013. Unlike previous camps this year, in which the roster was picked largely based on which continent the camp took place in, this roster blends youth and experience from both North America and abroad.
“For me, this is a very special game because it’s a chance to correspond with the supporters,” said Floro in a news release. “So I would like a very good game – not only to pick up a win but to also get a good performance.”
Nine MLSers are on the squad – five from Toronto FC, four from the Montreal Impact – including 19-year-old goalkeeper Quillan Roberts, earning his first call-up to the senior national team. This camp will also mark the return of veteran Patrice Bernier, who has been sparingly used by the national team in the past 18 months.
The match could be a national-team swan song for Bernier, who turns 35 next month. The same goes for Dwayne De Rosario, the 36-year-old who has seen limited playing time since returning to his hometown TFC. Floro, however, has said in the past that having veterans in camp – such as the likes of Atiba Hutchinson and Julian de Guzman – is beneficial for Canada’s new generation of players.
Several other domestic-based players were on Floro’s radar but aren’t on the roster. Breakout rookie Tesho Akindele was contacted, but it was ultimately decided he would remain with FC Dallas during the MLS playoff stretch run (the league’s schedule continues through the FIFA international break).
Will Johnson (Portland Timbers) is expecting the impending birth of his son, while Russell Teibert (Vancouver Whitecaps) and Jonathan Osorio (Toronto FC) also aren’t on the list. Cyle Larin, a striker with the University of Connecticut who earned his first CanMNT call-ups earlier this year, was reportedly called for this game but unable to attend.
Given the success being had by a number of Canadians abroad so far in 2014, this roster represents one of the strongest fielded by the national team in the past 18 months. And as Canada languishes at an all-time low FIFA ranking of No. 122, both Floro and the assembled crowd at BMO Field on Sept. 9 will be hoping it represents the right mix to finally get the national team back in the win column.
The team will begin assembling for training camp on Sunday. Canada’s next match, after the Jamaica friendly, is scheduled for Nov. 18 against Panama in Panama City.
Full Canada roster for Sept. 9 friendly vs. Jamaica:
GOALKEEPERS: Kenny Stamatopoulos (AIK/Sweden); Milan Borjan (unattached); Quillan Roberts (Toronto FC)
DEFENDERS: Nik Ledgerwood (Energie Cottbus/Germany); Andre Hainault (VfR Aalen/Germany); Doneil Henry (Toronto FC); Dejan Jakovic (Shimizu S-Pulse/Japan); Adam Straith (unattached); Karl W. Ouimette (Montreal Impact); Jeremy Gagnon-Laparé (Montreal Impact); David Edgar (Birmingham City/England)
MIDFIELDERS: Ashtone Morgan (Toronto FC); Julian de Guzman (unattached); Pedro Pacheco (CD Santa Clara/Portugal); Kyle Bekker (Toronto FC); Atiba Hutchinson (Besiktas/Turkey); Marcel de Jong (FC Augsburg/Germany); Issey Nakajima-Farran (Montreal Impact); Patrice Bernier (Montreal Impact)
FORWARDS: Tosaint Ricketts (Hapoel Haifa/Israel); Simeon Jackson (Coventry City/England); Marcus Haber (Crewe Alexandra/England); Randy Edwini-Bonsu (Stuttgarter Kickers/Germany); Dwayne De Rosario (Toronto FC)