Ottawa, Canada — John Herdman’s newest rendition of the Canadian National Team roster has been released ahead of their CONCACAF Nations League Matches. The Reds will take on Cuba in a home and home series Sept. 7 and 10. The Canadians met Cuba in this year’s Gold Cup and had no problems defeating them 7-0.
Canada MNT Announces Roster Ahead of Nations League Debut
What is CONCACAF Nations League?
In its inaugural year, the CONCACAF Nations League was designed to create more meaningful matches between CONCACAF’s national team federations in between major tournaments. This is extremely helpful to a nation like Canada, who very rarely scheduled meaningful friendly matches during international windows.
Canada is drawn in a group with Cuba and the United States. There is lots to play for in the four games in the group stage. Then, the winner of the group after the four games will head to the semifinals. The second-place team will be eliminated from this year’s competition, but will stay in the A League next year. Meanwhile, the nation that places last in each group will be relegated and replaced by the promoted nations from League B.
Canada should have no problem handling the Cuban national team, who is in the midst of an awful run of form. Their disastrous Gold Cup campaign was highlighted by two 7-0 defeats, at the hands of Canada and Mexico. They finished the three-game tournament with a -17 goal differential and no goals scored. Anything other than two convincing wins would be disappointing for Les Rouges.
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) September 4, 2019
Canada Needs Wins, Desperately
Things will get tougher in October and November, when Canada will measure itself against the CONCACAF giant of the USA. With CONCACAF’s World Cup qualifying tournament adjustment — which was an absolutely horrid idea, by the way — Canada will need to climb the rankings as much they can before next year. If Canada can pass two CONCACAF nations in the rankings, they will auto-qualify a spot in the Hexagonal. Otherwise, their dreams for Qatar 2022 will look extremely bleak.
Canada brought many of their first team players to camp, including Bayern Munich youngster Alphonso Davies. KAA Gent’s Jonathan David will compete only months after winning the Golden Boot at the Gold Cup. Cardiff City’s Junior Hoilett, LAFC’s Mark Anthony Kaye and Red Star Belgrade’s Milan Borjan all received calls. Borjan’s club season will be interesting, being drawn into a Champions League group with Bayern, Tottenham and Olympiacos.
David will look to improve on his already impressive international goal scoring record. In his first eight senior caps for Canada, he already has 10 goals. To put this in perspective, his 10 goals already puts him tenth all time in goals for the national team. He’s still only 19-years-old. The sky is the limit with him. He and Davies are two real elite young talents that Herdman will build his team around for years to come.
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) August 30, 2019
Canadian Premier League First
Another major story was the inclusion of Cavalry goalkeeper Marco Carducci. It marked the first time in CPL history that a player was called up to Canadian Men’s National Team. With the league still in its inaugural season, this is an encouraging sign for the CPL as a whole. If the CPL can continue to produce Canadian talent, it will do wonders for the depth of the national team. With Cavalry, Carducci has nine clean sheets this season, which gives him the league lead. Carducci will look to take the reins in net for The Reds leading up to the 2026 World Cup.
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) September 5, 2019
While the news on Carducci was definitely encouraging, he will be unlikely to make an impact on the first team during this tournament. Scott Arfield is probably the biggest name left off the roster. The Rangers midfielder has been battling a nagging injury all season. With a grueling schedule that included league play and Europa league qualification, Arfield played hard all August. If the stakes were higher, Arfield would probably be called into action. However, coach Herdman decided it is best to allow Arfield to rest for now.
So, Arfield had to decline #CanMNT due to maintenance… he’s struggled with what Herdman called “niggling injuries”and had to make the difficult call.
— Steven Sandor (@stevensandor) August 28, 2019
Another big omission is Puebla Striker Lucas Cavallini. So far this season, in six matches with the Liga MX side, Cavallini recorded two goals and one assist. The impactful striker will miss the call-up this time around due to his wife expecting a baby.
Cavallini was originally named to the side, but was later taken off after news of the baby broke. His replacement is impressive youngster Liam Miller. The 19-year-old is contracted to the European giant Liverpool, but is out on loan in the Scottish Prem. So far, in three matches, he has registered one assist. He is another player in the Canadian National team pool that is displaying lots of potential.
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) August 31, 2019
After Canada’s disappointing exit in the Gold Cup, Herdman has recalled some familiar faces back into the fold. Orlando City’s Tesho Akindele has been in form this season and receives the nod. Akindele has already notched a career high in goals this season with nine. Former Whitecaps leftback Sam Adekugbe will also make a return to the national team. Adekugbe now plays in the Norwegian top flight, appearing in 15 matches for Valerenga, notching three assists. Former Benfica prospect Stephen Vitoria has earned another call-up for Canada, having last appeared on the 2017 Gold Cup side.
Richie Laryea is a new addition to the roster. Laryea has risen onto the national team scene thanks to his fine play with TFC this season. Laryea is currently not capped by the senior national team, but that will change in the near future.
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) September 4, 2019
A player that many national team supporters have been begging to see get the call is fullback Juan Cordova. Former manager Octavio Zambrano used the Chilean-Canadian in his plans, but has yet to see the side since 2017. With the inconsistency on defense, and especially at fullback, many supporters have been asking to see Cordova get his chance to lock down a consistent spot. He should get two chances to impress this September against Cuba.
— Juan Guillermo Córdova Torres (@juancordovat15) August 28, 2019
On the Outside Looking in
After a forgettable performance in the Quarterfinal at the Gold Cup, Marcus Godinho has been left off the squad. In addition, Montreal Impact youngsters Zach Brault-Guillard and Jean-Yves Ballou-Tabla will not be present. Toronto FC prospect Nobelle Okello will have to wait a little while longer to get his first Canadian cap. Herdman also dropped veteran Leftback Ashtone Morgan from the side.
Canada will also be without their long-serving captain, Besiktas’ Atiba Hutchinson. The 36-year-old has been mulling retirement from the national team for a while. Hutchinson gave the Gold Cup a go, but its unclear whether that is the end of the road for him with Canada. He is six caps away from passing Julian De Guzman for the most in national team history.
The Canadians host the Cubans on Saturday. The reverse fixture in Cuba will take place on Sept. 10. The full Canadian roster can be found here.