Six MLS players were named on Monday to Canada’s 23-man roster for next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, headlined by Toronto FC’s Julian de Guzman and New York Red Bulls midfielder Dwayne De Rosario.
De Guzman, who was named the MVP of the 2007 Gold Cup, leads a veteran-heavy squad that also includes four-time tournament participants Kevin McKenna and Atiba Hutchinson.
While head coach Stephen Hart has elected to bring back many familiar faces to the Gold Cup, he has also called in a few newcomers to the regional championship.
Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Terry Dunfield is among those named to the squad, and he’s joined by fresh-faced goalkeepers Milan Borjan and Haidar Al-Shaïbani, defender Nik Ledgerwood, midfielders Pedro Pacheco and Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault, and striker Tosaint Ricketts.
MLSers Andre Hainault (Houston), Will Johnson (Real Salt Lake) and Dejan Jakovic (D.C. United) were also named to the squad.
Hart told reporters Monday that he was satisfied with his roster, even though some players who might have been selected were unavailable.
“There were some injuries and doubts and that sort of changed the lineup a little bit,” Hart said via teleconference. “I also had to think very carefully about September [when Canada begin their World Cup qualification campaign]. All in all, I’m happy with the squad that’s been selected.”
While Hart’s veterans have proved what they can do at this level, he’ll be looking to the newer players on the roster to impress at the Gold Cup, with an eye toward future Canada call-ups.
“These players have done well in the little showings they’ve had, and I think it’s important to try and give them some experience against CONCACAF opposition and see how well they progress through observing them [in] training and games.”
He added that all roster spots are up for grabs regardless of previous experience.
“Everything is open,” he said. “It’s a competition for places. We’ll see how it goes.”
While Hart seems to be using the Gold Cup as a bit of a preparation for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, he made it clear that success at the tournament itself is a goal for him and his coaching staff.
“I think right now we have to go into every game with the intention of wanting to win it and wanting to perform as best we can,” he said. “We’re going into the competition as a competition for what it is, and we’re going to try and do the best we can to get as far as possible in the competition and if that means we have an opportunity to win it, then we’re going for it.”
When asked what he would consider a successful Gold Cup for Canada, Hart made no bones about his aspirations: “To win it.”
Canada take on Ecuador in a friendly at BMO Field in Toronto on June 1 before kicking off the Gold Cup six days later against the United States at Ford Field in Detroit.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Lars Hirschfeld (Vålerenga, Norway), Milan Borjan (FK Rad, Serbia), Haidar Al-Shaïbani (Nîmes Olympique, France)
DEFENDERS (6): Nik Ledgerwood (SV Wehen Wiesbaden, Germany), Mike Klukowski (Unattached), Kevin McKenna (FC Köln, Germany), Andre Hainault (Houston Dynamo), Dejan Jakovic (D.C. United), Jaime Peters (Ipswich Town, England)
MIDFIELDERS (10): Julian de Guzman (Toronto FC), Terry Dunfield (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Will Johnson (Real Salt Lake), Josh Simpson (Vestel Manisaspor, Turkey), Pedro Pacheco (CD Santa Clara, Portugal), Atiba Hutchinson (PSV Eindhoven, Netherlands), Simeon Jackson (Norwich City FC, England), Marcel de Jong (FC Augsburg, Germany), Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault (SC Preußen Münster), Issey Nakajima-Farran (AC Horsens, Denmark)
FORWARDS (4): Rob Friend (Hertha Berlin, Germany), Ali Gerba (Montreal Impact), Dwayne De Rosario (New York Red Bulls), Tosaint Ricketts (FC Politehnica Timişoara, Romania)