With a winner for Canada, Tosaint Ricketts proves he's ready for 2018

Raheem Edwards - Tosaint Ricketts - Cyle Larin - Canada - Posted up in hotel

MURCIA, Spain—With a single chase-down dash for a goal, Tosaint Ricketts served notice: He's ready to roll in 2018.

Ricketts' 54th-minute strike gave the Canada national team a 1-0victory over New Zealand, and showed he’s fully fit and ready to contribute to Toronto FC at a crucial moment for the club.

Previously sidelined by a thyroid injury, Ricketts showed composure even as heavy winds coming off the Mediterranean made the action unpredictable. And with TFC about to face Club America in the Concacaf Champions League semifinals, Ricketts could prove a key option off the bench.

“It’s big. It was my first game of 2018,” Ricketts said. “I had a rough start with health problems earlier this year. So it’s a big step forward in the year and I’m happy to get the minutes. I’m happy to play for my country and I’m happy to show that I can provide.”

Ricketts’ 16th goal for the country moves him into a tie for fourth with Alex Bunbury – just six back of Canada and MLS legend Dwayne De Rosario’s national record.

Given DeRo’s standing in the North American game, Ricketts is almost quietly closing in on that record. De Rosario won MLS Cups and plenty of individual honours while Ricketts has played most of his career in far-flung places like Turkey and Romania.

But with Canada facing a few regional minnows in the fall, there exists a real possibility that the gap will shrink further still.

“It’s a big accomplishment to even be listed in the same conversation as DeRo,” Ricketts said. “He did so much in Canada. He’s done so much for MLS. I’m just grateful to help out the country in any way possible.”

Ricketts doesn’t want to see those games against the likes of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Dominica for his own personal glory.

He’s excited for the chance to get more games to test itself in areas where its traditionally struggled.

“It’s excellent, it’s great for us. More games that mean something,” he said. “We need more competitive matches. We need a focus to drive us to go forward and we’re ready for it.”