CHEONAN, South Korea – With another World Cup qualifying elimination forcing transition in the Canadian program, the time for the next generation of talent to take the lead is just about at hand.
All-time Canadian caps leader Julian de Guzman has likely played his final game and Atiba Hutchinson’s future is still up in the air so younger players who have been following now have to front the long suffering Canadian program.
“When those [younger] players are put into the first team on a regular basis I think we’ll do very well,” said Orlando City forward Cyle Larin on the eve of Canada’s final friendly against South Korea on Friday (7 am ET; CanadaSoccer.com).
“We have great older guys that are there and the new generation coming in is one that can help us go to the World Cup eventually and help us do well in these next couple tournaments like the Gold Cup and next World Cup qualifying games.”
As Canada concludes its 2016 on Friday against South Korea, it sees a squad with plenty of younger talent like Larin, Samuel Piette, Manjrekar James and Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s Marco Bustos all in line to see game time.
Korea is a team that regularly qualifies for World Cups while Canada’s drought has now reached 30 years. So Friday will be an indication of how Canada’s future matches up against the regular qualifiers of today.
“I know some of the players that I’ve watched on television,” says Larin of the Korean squad that features Tottenham Hotspurs’ Son Heung-Min and Borussia Dortmund’s Park Joo-Hoo. “I think [Korea’s] good technically. I haven’t really seen them but I know the players that are there and I think it will be a good game for us.”
Larin ran on his own as Canada trained at the Cheonan Stadium on Thursday and his status is questionable on Friday. But after another productive season with Orlando City, he’s going to be a player Canada is going to rely on as some older hands move on.
He knows full well the speculation about his potential future abroad, but said he has no plans on going anywhere as Orlando moves into its new facility next season. That's good news for Orlando fans hoping for success -- Canadian fans are hoping it'll bode well for them, too.
And Canadian fans are hoping that success can carry over to the national team.