Canada vs. New Zealand
Pinatar Arena – Murcia, Spain
Saturday, March 24 – 11:00 am ET
The next phase for the Canadian national team kicks off Saturday at Pinatar Arena, where the John Herdman era begins when Les Rouges face New Zealand in an international friendly.
Herdman made the unique move from the head of a hugely successful women’s program to coach a men’s team that showed positive signs — Canada reached the Concacaf Gold Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 2009 — under former coach Octavio Zambrano, who was let go in January after less than a year on the job.
This importance of this match is clear: It is a chance for Herdman’s vision and plan to be put into action for the first time, an opportunity for this team to make a good first impression.
“We need an absolute purpose for playing, a clear purpose for playing,” said Herdman, who coached the New Zealand women’s national team from 2006-11. “That to me is the foundation behind it all. What these men are prepared to do with that jersey, they’re custodians of that shirt for a period of time, and what are they prepared to leave behind when they put that shirt down.”
How will Canada look? Who will start? What’s the preferred formation? All that is unknown at the moment. As for the squad, Herdman has brought in 10 MLS players as part of a squad of regular national team contributors like Toronto FC forward Tosaint Ricketts, LAFC defender Dejan Jakovic and midfielder Atiba Hutchinson, who plays for Beşiktaş in Turkey with former Orlando City SC forward Cyle Larin, who's also part of Herdman’s first 23-man roster.
There are also four players who are seeking their first cap, including 18-year-old Liam Millar from Liverpool’s U-18 side.
It was a first training session for the full #CANMNT squad here in Murcia, Spain today.— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) March 20, 2018
Check out the boys putting in work ahead of Saturday's friendly v @NZ_Football, live on https://t.co/QAm3FvVQHB. pic.twitter.com/cA0ETbxOUJ
Noticeably absent is Vancouver Whitecaps FC phenom Alphonso Davies, who was named to the Gold Cup’s Best XI last summer, and Cardiff City winger Junior Hoilett. Herdman told the Canadian Press those decisions were made after discussions with their clubs and both will be part of his program going forward.
While TFC, who have four players on the roster, and the Montreal Impact, with three players, have byes this week, Vancouver is home vs. the LA Galaxy. Davies, 17, has started all three games for Whitecaps FC, and has one goal and one assist on the season.
New Zealand Outlook
The coach who led New Zealand to the brink of qualifying for this summer’s World Cup, only for the All Whites to fall to Peru in an intercontinental playoff, is now leading the Colorado Rapids. Replacing Anthony Hudson at the helm for New Zealand is Fritz Schmid, who spent the last three years as Malaysia’s technical director. He was hired late last month.
Like Canada, the focus is on the next World Cup cycle for New Zealand and Schmid has called in a relatively young and inexperienced team with nine players looking to make their debuts. Among the veterans in the 23-man roster is Minnesota United FC central defender Michael Boxall, who has made 31 appearances.
The most capped player is Michael McGlinchey with 52. The 32-year-old is one of five players from Wellington Phoenix in Australia’s A-League.
“We know what all of those players can offer the national team,” Schmid told the New Zealand Herald. “They are not selected for this window, but they all know that they are on my watch list and that they will be offered an opportunity to prove their value in due time.”
Canada have a 2-0-0 record against New Zealand, with both victories coming on the All Whites’ Canadian tour in 1980. Canada won 4-0 on Sept. 15, 1980 in Vancouver and 3-0 in Edmonton two days later.
Players to Watch
Canada — Jonathan Osorio. The 25-year-old already has two goals in 19 appearances for Canada and is off to a flying start with Toronto FC, scoring a sensational backheel goal that lifted the defending MLS Cup champions to a 2-1 win over Tigres UANL in the opening leg of the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals.
New Zealand — Michael Boxall. A regular in Adrian Heath’s starting XI at Minnesota United FC since he arrived midway through the 2017 season from SuperSport United in South Africa, Boxall has partnered with Costa Rican international Francisco Calvo on a backline that has conceded just once in its first three games after leaking a league-high 70 goals in its expansion year.
The other MLS player on the All Whites roster is young Vancouver Whitecaps FC forward Myer Bevan, who scored his first international goal in just his second appearance, a second-leg World Cup qualifying series against the Solomon Islands.
|GK||Milan Borjan||Red Star Belgrade||37/0|
|GK||Jayson Leutwiler||Blackburn Rovers||3/0|
|GK||Simon Thomas||FK Bodo/Glimt||8/0|
|D||Sam Adekugbe||Valerenga Fotball||6/0|
|D||Derek Cornelius||FK Javor Ivanjica||0/0|
|D||Manjrekar James||Vasas Budapest||14/2|
|D||Ashtone Morgan||Toronto FC||13/0|
|D||Michael Petrasso||Montreal Impact||8/0|
|M||Tesho Akindele||FC Dallas||13/2|
|M||Jay Chapman||Toronto FC||2/1|
|M||Raheem Edwards||Montreal Impact||3/0|
|M||Mark Anthony Kaye||LAFC||5/0|
|M||Jonathan Osorio||Toronto FC||19/2|
|M||Samuel Piette||Montreal Impact||37/0|
|M||David Wotherspoon||St. Johnstone||0/0|
|F||Tosaint Ricketts||Toronto FC||57/15|
New Zealand Roster
|GK||Max Crocombe||Salford City||0/0|
|GK||Nik Tzanev||AFC Wimbledon||0/0|
|D||Michael Boxall||Minnesota United FC||31/0|
|D||Tom Doyle||Wellington Phoenix||8/0|
|D||Dane Ingram||Brisbane Roar||5/0|
|D||Adam Mitchell||Bolton Wanderers||0/0|
|D||Storm Roux||Central Coast Marines||9/0|
|D||Themis Tzimopoulos||PAS Giannina||14/1|
|M||Cam Howieson||Auckland City||9/0|
|M||Niko Kirwan||AC Mestre||0/0|
|M||Clayton Lewis||Scunthorpe United||13/0|
|M||Michael McGlinchey||Wellington Phoenix||52/5|
|M||Tim Payne||Eastern Suburbs||14/2|
|M||Matt Ridenton||Wellington Phoenix||3/0|
|M||Alex Rufer||Wellington Phoenix||4/0|
|M||Sarpreet Singh||Wellington Phoenix||0/0|
|M||Ryan Thomas||PEC Zwolle||18/3|
|F||Myer Bevan||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||2/1|
|F||Jeremy Brockie||Mamelodi Sundowns||50/1|
|F||Andre De Jong||Hakoah||0/0|
|F||Marco Rojas||SC Heerenveen||40/5|