David Edgar wants badly to make history with the Canadian national team – and he isn’t alone.
The 29-year-old defender, who joined the Vancouver Whitecaps earlier this summer, is part of the Canadian squad that will be fighting for its World Cup qualifying life in San Pedro Sula, Honduras on Friday (5 pm ET, TSN).
He was also part of the squad that infamously fell 8-1 in that same locale four years ago, something Edgar attributes to a loss of focus after a few missed scoring opportunities in the early going.
“We didn’t stay in the game,” Edgar told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “So [this time] we’re going to make sure we’re in the game at all times and give ourselves a chance to get a point or get three points.”
The team’s chances of getting a result in Central America have been boosted in the last 18 months with the addition of several high-profile players, most recently Scott Arfield of Burnley in the Premier League.
Edgar and Arfield were teammates at Burnley in 2013-14, and it was Edgar who put the bug in Arfield’s ear about the potential of representing Canada. Now, a few years later, the two could line up together in a crucial World Cup qualifying match.
“It’s definitely something I never thought would happen,” said Edgar. “He knows how much it means, and he wants to get to the Hex as well.”
While reaching the Hexagonal round is a relatively new ambition for Arfield, who made his Canada debut earlier this year, it’s a long-held dream for national-team veterans like Edgar, Atiba Hutchinson and Julian de Guzman.
De Guzman, 35, is with the team but off the roster due to injury, while Hutchinson, 33, is playing in his fourth and likely last World Cup qualification cycle. Neither has yet had the chance to play in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying.
“The guys want to help Atiba to achieve that, and Julian,” said Edgar. “They’ve been fantastic role models and servants to the country.”
While most of his national-team career has been in central defense or as a fullback, Edgar had some success as a central midfielder in the team’s friendlies this past June, scoring a goal in a 2-1 win over Uzbekistan.
The absence of de Guzman and Will Johnson has raised the potential that Edgar could once again play that position against Honduras, which would likely put him right alongside his roommate, Arfield. But Edgar says his precise role in the upcoming two games is still yet to be determined.
“Wherever I’m chosen to play or whatever my involvement is, I’m more than happy to play a part,” said Edgar. “This is the biggest game we’ve had in years, and a fantastic chance to get to the Hex and create some history for the national team.”
Edgar and fellow Canadian defender Marcel de Jong joined the Whitecaps in early July, and both have been hitting their stride in terms of fitness and sharpness in the lead-up to these national-team games.
“Playing with Marcel [at Vancouver], it can only benefit the Canadian team,” said Edgar. “We’ve got some other players that are in the fold, Fraser Aird and Russell Teibert have been in before, and playing together can only help the national team.”
Whatever the result in Honduras on Friday, the Canadian team will go into the final game of the round (against El Salvador at BC Place on Tuesday) with their dreams of reaching the Hex still alive. But Edgar doesn’t consider that to be any kind of safety net – his team will still be gunning for three points in San Pedro Sula.
“You don’t want to be relying on another game and other teams,” he said. “It’s in our own hands right now and that’s the best way we can look at it.”
One way or another, Canada’s Hex ambitions will be known at the final whistle of Tuesday’s game in Vancouver. And while Edgar’s early experiences as a Whitecap have him expecting a “fun” environment on that day, his foremost priority remains helping the team reach the final qualifying round for the first time since 1997.
“It’s been well documented how much the Canadian team means to me, and how much I love playing for them,” said Edgar. “Especially after the disappointment of missing out on the Hex, and the way we missed out last time, it would be massive."