Canada are looking to qualify for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup for the third straight time – and on that quest, they’ll be relying heavily upon MLS academy talent.
On Tuesday, the Canadian Soccer Association released its roster for the upcoming CONCACAF U-17 Championship (Feb. 27 to March 15), which will serve as the qualifying tournament for the 2015 U-17 World Cup (in Chile, Oct. 17 to Nov. 8).
Of the 20 players on the roster, 15 are currently with the academy of either Toronto FC or the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The CONCACAF tournament will be held in a city that holds some very bitter memories for the Canadian program – San Pedro Sula, Honduras. In fact, all of Canada’s group-stage games will be held at the Estadio Olimpico, the scene of the Canadian senior team's nightmarish 8-1 loss in World Cup qualifying in 2012 that ended their hopes for Brazil 2014.
But Canadian fans will be hoping that the team’s five group-stage matches – vs. Haiti (Feb. 28), Costa Rica (March 3), Mexico (March 6), Saint Lucia (March 9) and Panama (March 12) – will provide an opportunity for these youngsters to acclimate themselves to the stadium and the surroundings.
“We know with the qualifying procedure how difficult it will be with games every third day with the heat,” head coach Sean Fleming said in a news release. “We know the quality of the opponents. It’s a very tough group compared to the other group, in my opinion, and it’s going to be five very good quality games.”
The tournament will follow the same format as last month’s CONCACAF U-20 Championship: Two groups of six, with the top finisher in each group qualifying for the World Cup, and the second- and third-place finishers in each group entering a one-game playoff for the region’s two other World Cup berths.
Canada finished third at the 2013 CONCACAF U-17 Championship (which was played in a different format), defeating Honduras on penalty kicks in the third-place match.
GOALKEEPERS (2): Brogan Engbers (Toronto FC Academy); Luciano Trasolini (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency)
DEFENDERS (6): Matthew Baldisimo (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency); Gabriel Boakye (Toronto FC Academy); Dante Campbell (Toronto FC Academy); Kadin Chung (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency); Andrew Dias (Toronto FC Academy); Kosovar Sadiki (Stoke City Academy)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Tristan Borges (Toronto FC Academy); Aidan Daniels (Toronto FC Academy); Rich Ennin (Toronto FC Academy); Thomas Mickoski (North Toronto Nitros); Harrison Paton (Fulham FC U-18 Academy); Munir Saleh (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency); Jean-Yves Tabla (unattached)
FORWARDS (5): Terran Campbell (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency); Duwayne Ewart (unattached); Malik Johnson (Toronto FC Academy); Cyrus Rollocks (Toronto FC Academy); Daniel Sagno (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency)