Canadian national team welcome welcome handful of newcomers into fold for Ghana friendly

Benito Floro - Canada - Gold Cup

It looks like the tide might have finally turned for the Canada national team.

With the Friday roster announcement for a friendly against Ghana on Oct. 13, the Canadian Soccer Association unveiled three players that many fans might never have expected to see suiting up for the national team.

The first is Junior Hoilett, whose commitment to his birth nation after years of uncertainty was first announced by Canada Soccer earlier this week. The 25-year-old Queens Park Rangers man is looking to earn his first cap for Canada at any level.

Next is Fraser Aird, whose presence on the roster for Ghana was quietly confirmed by the CSA on Thursday. The 20-year-old Glasgow Rangers midfielder was born in Toronto but has made appearances for Scotland’s U-17 and U-19 squads. But after a slow-burn repatriation process, Aird will join the senior Canadian national team for the first time.

The third is Lucas Cavallini, who has experience with Canada’s youth and senior teams but hasn’t answered the call for the national team since their infamous 8-1 World Cup qualifying loss to Honduras in October 2012. In that time, the 22-year-old became one of the most promising goalscorers in the Uruguayan Primera Division – but also suggested in a local interview that he regretted becoming cap-tied to his birth country.

All three players are joining Les Rouges at a crucial time, with the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying set to begin on Nov. 13, in a match against Honduras at BC Place.

Hoilett and Aird aren’t the only newcomers to the setup – Montreal Impact defender Wandrille Lefevre is also with Canada for the first time. The 25-year-old was born in France but has lived in Canada since 2003 and became eligible for the national team earlier this year when he received his Canadian citizenship.

Also, 19-year-old Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Marco Bustos, who has plenty of experience at the youth level with Canada, is joining the senior team for the first time.

“It is always important to provide an opportunity to new players to be integrated into the team from a tactical and social point of view,” manager Benito Floro said in a release. “To be part of future camps and our journey to Russia 2018, it was essential we brought them into our program this month for the Ghana match.”

Bustos will be joined on the roster by fellow Whitecaps youngsters Sam Adekugbe and Kianz Froese, while Toronto FC II teammates Manny Aparicio, 20, and Jordan Hamilton, 19, are also with the team.

In all, 10 players from MLS teams or their USL affiliates are on Canada’s 24-man roster for the friendly that will take place at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

Floro has also said that if Canada’s Under-23 team fails to advance past the group stage at the Olympic qualifying tournament (the team dropped its opener 3-1 to the USA on Thursday), players from that squad could be added to the national team roster for the Ghana friendly.

Here is the full roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Simon Thomas (Strommen/Norway); Milan Borjan (Ludogorets Razgrad/Bulgaria); Kenny Stamatopoulos (AIK/Sweden)

DEFENDERS (9): Sam Adekugbe (Vancouver Whitecaps); Andre Hainault (FC Magdeburg/Germany); David Edgar (Sheffield United/England); Nana Attakora (San Antonio Scorpions); Adam Straith (Fredrikstad/Norway); Manjrekar James (Diósgyöri/Hungary); Marcel de Jong (Sporting Kansas City); Karl Ouimette (New York Red Bulls); Wandrille Lefevre (Montreal Impact)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Fraser Aird (Glasgow Rangers/Scotland); Kianz Froese (Vancouver Whitecaps); David “Junior” Hoilett (Queens Park Rangers/England); Kyle Bekker (Montreal Impact); Tosaint Ricketts (Boluspor/Turkey); Maxim Tissot (Montreal Impact); Marco Bustos (Vancouver Whitecaps); Manuel Aparicio (Toronto FC II)

FORWARDS (4): Marcus Haber (Crewe Alexandria/England); Simeon Jackson (Barnsley/England); Jordan Hamilton (Toronto FC); Lucas Cavallini (Fenix/Uruguay)