Canada's Lucas Cavallini

With Panama looming, Canada seek options in T&T tilt

SUNRISE, Fla. – With most European leagues set to begin this weekend, Canadian national team head coach Stephen Hart chose to leave some of the bigger names on his team off his roster for Wednesday’s friendly against Trinidad and Tobago knowing full well they’ll be needed in September when World Cup qualifying resumes next month.

What’s resulted is a squad that’s a mix of experience and youth. And while Hart has a good idea of how his squad will look in September, it’s never too late to impress the boss.

“As I’ve said before, I’m really going to be looking at individual performances,” Hart said after the team’s second and final training session ahead of Wednesday’s game (7 pm ET). “I think it’s an opportunity for those players who didn’t get in the recent international games to get into the squad. At the same token, there are a few players who played as well.”

While they may be playing T&T on Wednesday, the coaching staff already has Panama on the brain. Not everyone in this camp will be involved in the September one, but the approach they’re taking is that all players should be prepared to play against Panama next month no matter what.

“We discussed that and we’re going to discuss that tonight in a meeting,” said Hart. “We’re going to do things that we think are important for us to play well against Panama so that’s going to be the objective.”

While the four points picked up in June was encouraging for Canadians, the one negative is in the fact that it was achieved by scoring just one goal. The backline can only hold out so long and, against Panama, scoring is going to be a priority.

The fact that forwards Olivier Occean, Simeon Jackson and Iain Hume have all been left in Europe means Lucas Cavallini (above, No. 13) has a chance to prove some new blood may be the secret to getting a more potent offence. Hart was cagey as to whether the 19-year old forward is an option for the near term as well as the long term.

“It wouldn’t hurt, would it?” Hart said of Cavallini’s chances on getting a return call next month if he’s able to bag a goal or two against Trinidad. “If a young man comes in and gets a run and has a good performance, it will boost his confidence and it might just sway the selection.”

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.