Cavallini to Waterman: Meet the 11 MLS players on Canada’s World Cup roster


Canada’s 26-player roster for the FIFA 2022 World Cup is out.

The most represented league? Major League Soccer, with 11 players (42%) competing for four different clubs – including a leading six from CF Montréal. Taking a wider view, 18 selections (69%) are current MLS players, former MLS players or players who spent time in an MLS academy.

For that extended group, Bayern Munich superstar Alphonso Davies (ex-Vancouver Whitecaps FC) is the face of MLS homegrown products and Club Brugge forwards Tajon Buchanan (ex-New England Revolution) and Cyle Larin (ex-Orlando City SC) are stellar examples of the SuperDraft’s potential.

As the CanMNT prepare for a Group F opener on Nov. 23 against Belgium, followed by matches against Croatia (Nov. 27) and Morocco (Dec. 1), here’s a rundown of each MLS representative that’ll be in Qatar.

  • Experience: 0 caps
  • Age: 25
  • From: Montréal, Quebec

A couple of weeks ago, Pantemis had a slim chance of making Canada’s World Cup roster. But then LAFC’s Maxime Crépeau broke his leg in MLS Cup 2022, and a roster spot opened.

Step in Pantemis, who had four clean sheets in 11 starts to help steady Montréal’s ascent to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference this year. He wrestled the starter’s role back from Sebastian Breza.

  • Experience: 2 caps
  • Age: 25
  • From: Pickering, Ontario

After Crépeau’s aftermentioned injury, St. Clair is slated to back up Red Star Belgrade veteran Milan Borjan.

This follows his breakout year at Minnesota, earning MVP honors at the All-Star Game presented by Target and generating some early-season Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year buzz.

  • Experience: 29 caps; 1 goal
  • Age: 24
  • From: Aurora, Ontario

Johnston brings tremendous versatility to Canada, featuring as a right-sided center back in a three-man system or even as a fullback. He played in all but one World Cup qualifier for Canada stretching back to March 2021, reinforcing his importance to the squad.

After spending the 2020-21 MLS seasons at Nashville SC, Johnston was traded to Montréal last winter. That provided the platform for a career year, as he posted 4g/5a across 33 games.

  • Experience: 33 caps; 1 goal
  • Age: 27
  • From: Toronto, Ontario

Laryea is back with ever-familiar Toronto on loan from Nottingham Forest, originally joining the Premier League side last winter on a reported $1 million deal. Should the Reds turn upstream in 2023, he’ll be a key piece – provided his stay extends beyond the June 2023 mark from his current deal.

Capable of playing right back or left back – or even in an attacking role – Laryea is a useful piece for Herdman’s tactical wrinkles.

  • Experience: 28 caps; 0 goals
  • Age: 25
  • From: Scarborough, Ontario

Miller’s first two MLS seasons (2019-20) at Orlando City SC saw him stuck down the depth chart somewhat. Now, he’s coming off an All-Star nod with Montréal and has been a locked-in starter for two years running.

That steady rise has Miller slated to start in the heart of Canada’s defense in Qatar, getting tested by some world-class forwards.

  • Experience: 1 cap; 0 goals
  • Age: 26
  • From: Aldergrove, British Columbia

Waterman was a bubble player for Canada’s World Cup roster, then an injury to ex-Toronto center back Doneil Henry opened a spot. Now, the ball-dominant center back should provide some back-line depth alongside on-loan Vancouver defender Derek Cornelius (at Greece’s Panetolikos).

Waterman joined Montréal in 2020 from Canadian Premier League side Cavalry FC and has steadily grown in prominence. This season, he had 3g/4a in 30 games for a Supporters’ Shield-contending squad.

  • Experience: 37 caps; 2 goals
  • Age: 27
  • From: Toronto, Ontario

Whether it’s been for LAFC, Colorado Rapids or Toronto FC, Kaye has been among MLS’s best ball-playing center mids since entering the league in 2018. His 13g/23a across 117 matches only backs adds to that profile.

Now, Kaye will hope to rediscover his form in Qatar and find minutes alongside the likes of Porto star Stephen Eustáquio and Beşiktaş veteran Atiba Hutchinson.

  • Experience: 5 caps; 1 goal
  • Age: 20
  • From: Montréal, Quebec

Koné could be one of the breakout players of the entire World Cup. He’s gone from a little-known signing for Montréal to the subject of seven-figure bids from European clubs.

Born in the Ivory Coast, Kone had 2g/5a across 26 games during his first full professional season. He’s not long for MLS, it seems.

  • Experience: 56 caps; 7 goals
  • Age: 30
  • From: Brampton, Ontario

Osorio has recovered from a head injury to make Canada’s World Cup roster, a deserved inclusion for the longtime Toronto FC homegrown standout. He had featured in all but one Octagonal match, memorably scoring in a 1-1 draw against Mexico at Estadio Azteca.

In 2022, Osorio had 9g/6a in 23 games before missing the Reds’ late-season push. Entering free agency, his club future is up in the air too.

  • Experience: 65 caps; 0 goals
  • Age: 28
  • From: Le Gardeur, Quebec

Often described as a bulldog-like defensive midfielder, Piette brings great leadership qualities for both club and country. He’ll be Canada’s third-most capped player in Qatar (65) and has 2g/10a across 143 games for Montréal.

Piette’s not always first-choice for Herdman, but don’t be surprised if he starts a game.

  • Experience: 33 caps; 17 goals
  • Age: 29
  • From: Mississauga, Ontario

Cavallini should bring a more physical look to Canada’s strike force than Larin and Lille star Jonathan David. He’ll arrive with confidence too, finishing as Vancouver’s top scorer with 9g/2a in 24 games this year.

During the CanMNT Octagonal campaign, he featured in five games. He also scored five goals across early-stage qualifiers against Aruba and the Cayman Islands.