FRISCO, Tex. – With a second game in four days in what will likely be hot conditions, Canada may see further squad rotation in Friday's clash vs. Honduras (10 pm ET | TSN2 in Canada, FS1, UniMás, UDN) after fielding different lineups through their first two games at the Gold Cup.
Players like Russell Teibert and Tosaint Ricketts have made cameo appearances against French Guiana and Costa Rica, respectively. But with the possibility of knockout round games to come, Les Rouges want to use more of their squad.
“The guys who have not had the opportunity to play yet are really eager to get on the pitch and that’s great. I sense that excitement,” said head coach Octavio Zambrano. “I sense the healthy competition within the environment, within the team. I think that, in the end, whoever steps on the field tomorrow, I think is going to give it all. This is the feeling that I have. If that happens, I will be very satisfied, regardless of the result.”
Canada are always battling to develop roster depth, so getting more players to the field while still pursuing results is a major objective for a developing program.
So far that’s panned out quite well: 18 of its 23 players have seen the field, including two of the three goalkeepers on the roster. Those without much playing time are focusing on the team’s success before any personal glory.
“There’s a lot of competition, but I think that’s what’s pushing our squad right now,” said Teibert. “You can see that the squad’s done well up to this point but we’re not content. We want to keep pushing.”
There are still some creative options, like Raheem Edwards and Jonathan Osorio from Toronto FC, who still haven’t yet seen action in this competition. But in a tournament such as this, having those players available is a pleasant option for Zambrano.
Players and staff said there’s no way they’ll be playing for a tie Friday night. They want to win the game and win Group A, so it’s quite likely that Canada will want to inject some of the creativity that has been held in reserve to this point.
Zambrano has stated that everyone in his squad is there for a reason. Nobody is there to just make up the numbers.
“There is an opportunity for Raheem to play. Obviously we want to see everyone and we want to rotate,” said the former MLS coach. “We do believe in rotating players because everyone wants to play and everyone wants to contribute and that’s really exciting to see—the guys wanting to put their grain of sand to make this happen.”
Results have helped the squad start to believe that good things are possible for men’s teams in the Canadian jersey. And considering Canada’s historical lack of depth options in some positions, having players not see the field as much despite having the ability is a refreshing change of pace.
“Everyone has the same goal. We all want to make it through the group stages and go as far as we can,” said Ricketts. “Everyone is on the same page, focused and hoping for results.”