As all Canadians know, poutine has three key ingredients: French fries, cheese curds and gravy. And on Friday, Canadian soccer discovered the 23 ingredients in this year’s Camp Poutine roster, running the gamut from promising prodigies to well-traveled, national-team veterans.
Camp Poutine is, of course, the nickname given to the Canadian team’s first training camp of the year, in which head coach Benito Floro takes the opportunity to evaluate a variety of players for the year ahead. This year, the camp concludes with a showdown against Camp Cupcake (a.k.a. the United States) in a friendly on Feb. 5.
Most of these players won’t make the cut for the team’s following games, a pair of World Cup qualifiers against Mexico in March. But these next two weeks will provide a crucial chance for these men to earn a spot in Floro’s pantry, ready to be used in future recipes.
Here are five big takeaways from Friday’s roster announcement:
There are four newcomers to the team, though the biggest name is definitely Steven Vitoria. The Toronto-born defender, formerly of the Philadelphia Union, opted to represent Portugal at the youth level, including at the 2007 FIFA Under-20 World Cup (which was hosted in, of all places, Canada).
But with no senior call-up from Portugal forthcoming, Vitoria has been ruminating about joining the Canadian side for years. Now 29 years old, he’s looking to earn his first cap at any level for the land of his birth.
Callum Irving, a highly touted goalkeeper from the University of Kentucky who went unselected in this week’s MLS SuperDraft, is also earning his first Canada call. So are fellow goalkeeper Tyson Farago (FC Edmonton) and midfielder Jamar Dixon (FF Jaro).
Welcome back Humey
The Canadian soccer community can be fractious at the best of times, but there’s one thing on which they can seemingly all agree—Iain Hume is awesome. The pugnacious attacker has had a wild career, from early success for Canada’s U-20 side to his life-threatening on-field injury in 2008 to his newfound hero status in the nascent Indian Super League.
Hume hasn’t featured regularly for the national team under Floro, despite bagging plenty of goals in two ISL seasons. But this camp could be a chance for the 32-year-old fan favorite to show he’s got another World Cup qualifying cycle left in him.
Uh oh, no Oso
Perched at their keyboards on Friday morning, digital pitchforks in hand, Toronto FC fans were anxiously awaiting the opportunity to expel outrage at the omission of midfielder Jonathan Osorio from Canada’s roster. And sure enough, when the time came, there his name wasn’t.
The 23-year-old midfielder hasn’t featured for Canada since last summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, leading to a maelstrom of criticism from folks (mainly in Toronto, it would appear) wondering how it could be. Is there some off-field problem between player and manager? Does Floro simply not think Osorio fits into his defensive-minded system? Some combination of the two?
Whatever the reason, Osorio is once again not on the Canadian roster, leaving his supporters with no choice but to—as TFC fans have been told in the past—deal with it.
How is Henry?
Since his much-ballyhooed move from his hometown TFC to West Ham United (via Apollon Limassol) in 2015, things haven’t gone as planned for 22-year-old defender Doneil Henry (pictured above). A hamstring injury, suffered while on loan to Blackburn Rovers, brought his 2014-15 season to an end, and he’s struggled to get back to full fitness since.
In his return to the Canadian program, Henry will be looking to show that he’s ready to not only earn a spot in the friendly against the USA, but potentially against Mexico in the team’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers as well.
Who’s got the gloves?
With a trio of goalkeeping neophytes on the squad, Floro will be handing a first senior cap to someone on Feb. 5. It’s most likely to be Maxime Crépeau, the 21-year-old homegrown player for the Montreal Impact who has plenty of experience for Canada’s youth teams. But both Irving and Farago have something to prove, and will do their utmost to push Crépeau during training camp.