Eleven players connected to MLS clubs have been named to the Canadian Under-20 national team’s 10-day November camp in Mexico that will feature a pair of friendlies against the Mexican U-20s, the Canadian Soccer Federation announced Wednesday.
Six players on the 17-man roster play on USL teams affiliated with the three Canadian MLS clubs, while five are in their academies. The camp is preparation for the lead up to the CONCACAF U-20 Championship and FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2017.
"It is important for this group to face opponents and experience conditions in CONCACAF, so there is no greater test than facing Mexico in Mexico at this stage," said head coach Rob Gale, in a statement. "As a group, we will be developing our in-game tactics to both defend specific opponents as well as exploit their potential weaknesses."
Four players in the group are in their 11th camp in the Canadian national youth system (Toronto FC II’s Gabriel Boakye, Vancouver Whitecaps 2’s Kadin Chung, Vaughn SC’s Duwayne Ewart and Ballou Tabla of the Montreal Impact Academy). Combined, the group has already benefited from more than 900 cumulative days in the program.
The camp runs from November 9-18, with international matches against Mexico on November 13 and 15 in Mexico City. Mexico’s youth teams are undefeated in CONCACAF youth tournaments since a 2009 loss to Canada at the U-20 level.
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"This is a chance for our group of players to go toe to toe with CONCACAF champions in their own backyard," Gale said. "These international matches provide us with the opportunity to get positive results and test our players."
GOALKEEPER (3): Philip Di Bennardo (Toronto FC II); James Pantemis (Académie Impact Montréal); Thomas Meilleur Giguère (Académie Impact Montréal)
DEFENDERS (5): Mateo Restrepo (Toronto FC Academy); Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea FC U-21); Gabriel Boakye (Toronto FC II); Kadin Chung (Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2); Marcus Godinho (Toronto FC II)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Tristan Borges (Toronto FC II); David Choinière )Académie Impact Montréal); Joshua Doughty (Manchester United FC U-21); Duwayne Ewart (Vaughan SC); Harrison Paton (Fulham FC U-18 Academy); Shamit Shome (University of Alberta); Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla (Académie Impact Montréal); Luca Uccello (Toronto FC II)
FORWARD (1): Dario Zanatta (Heats of Midlothian FC)