Canada has named a 24-player roster, including 11 MLSers, for the opening matches of their bid to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. They first host Bermuda on March 25 at Exploria Stadium (home of Orlando City SC), then face the Cayman Islands on March 28 at the IMG Sports Complex in Bradenton, Fla.

Due to challenges around the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada last competed during a January 2020 international friendly against Iceland. Now, they’ll look to navigate through Group B of Concacaf’s first-round qualifiers, with only the group winner making the second round. Aside from Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, they’re also scheduled to face Aruba (June 5) and Suriname (June 8).

“The squad selection shows the commitment of the players, how they feel about these games, representing Canada and how important the games are for the country," head coach John Herdman said in a release. “Having been apart for so long, we’re focused on being able to connect and ensuring we get the tactical clarity over the short window we have leading into the start of qualifying. It’s about the off-field connection and getting the guys comfortable being together again.” 

The roster is headlined by Bayern Munich star Alphonso Davies, who burst onto the scene with Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Other MLS highlights are Vancouver forward Lucas CavalliniCF Montréal midfielder Samuel PietteLAFC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye and Toronto FC outside back Richie Laryea. Herdman said that Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio missed out through injury.

From the non-MLS group, headliners include Cardiff City forward Junior Hoilett and the Besiktas duo of forward Cyle Larin and midfielder Atiba Hutchinson. However, Lille OSC forward Jonathan David wasn’t available for selection due to quarantine regulations in France.

Should Canada top Group B, they’d face the Group E winner in a head-to-head series June 12 and 15. That winner will then make Concacaf’s final round of eight nations (octagonal) in Fall 2021, creating an challenging path for Les Rouges as they seek their first World Cup berth since 1986.

“It is an opportunity for this group of men to do something special for their country that hasn’t been done for a long time,” Herdman said. “Our players do not need much motivation, they’re just really excited to play for their country again and every time we’re together we remind them that this team can change football in this nation.”

  • GK: Borjan, Milan - Red Star Belgrade
  • GK: Crepeau, Maxime - Vancouver Whitecaps FC
  • GK: St. Clair, Dayne - Minnesota United FC
  • D: Adekugbe, Samuel - Valerenga
  • D: Ferreira, Ricardo - Farense
  • D: Gutierrez, Cristian - Vancouver Whitecaps FC
  • D: Johnston, Alistair - Nashville SC
  • D: Laryea, Richie - Toronto FC
  • D: Miller, Kamal - CF Montréal
  • D: Sturing, Frank - FC Den Bosch
  • D: Vitoria, Steven - Moreirense FC
  • D: Waterman, Joel - CF Montréal
  • M: Corbeanu, Theo - Wolverhampton Wanderers FC
  • M: Eustaquio, Stephen - FC Pacos de Ferreira
  • M: Hutchinson, Atiba - Besiktas
  • M: Kaye, Mark-Anthony - LAFC
  • M: Nelson, Jayden - Toronto FC
  • M: Piette, Samuel - CF Montréal
  • M: Wotherspoon, DaviD: St. Johnstone FC
  • F: Cavallini, Lucas - Vancouver Whitecaps
  • F: Davies, Alphonso - Bayern Munich
  • F: Hoilett, David Junior - Cardiff City FC
  • F: Larin, Cyle - Besiktas
  • F: Millar, Liam - Charlton Athletic FC