Come next week Wednesday the Canadian Men's National team will be playing in a key friendly to help them prepare for this falls crucial World Cup qualifiers. The problem is that with such a short international window in August, European players just starting their seasons, and a number of MLS teams in action, Canada is forced to call up a greatly weakened side.
Canada will take on Trinidad and Tobago in Lauderhill, Florida as part of their preparation for a pair of matches against Panama on September 7th and 11th. It is not unusual to see Canada getting together in Florida since head coach Stephen Hart feels that playing in the conditions down there gives them the best preparation for away trips to teams in the hotter and more humid parts of CONCACAF. This time around the added bonus, if you can call it that, is that Canada is actually going to be playing this friendly on a converted cricket field.
Hart stressed when the friendly was announced that he felt it was crucial that Canada at least plays a match even if it is not under ideal circumstances or with a full roster. This way at least some of the group gets to have a training session together and more match time. It may be against a weaker CONCACAF opponent who are already knocked out of World Cup Qualifying but it all counts. Having many restrictions on who he can call up has also allowed Hart to give a look at some players who were not involved in the squad for the games back in the spring. Hart has also taken the chance to give a call to some new faces.
Toronto FC is one of the many MLS teams that is scheduled to be in action on August 15th so the reds who were called up will now be unavailable to face the Portland Timbers. This means that the Reds will now be without Terry Dunfield and Doneil Henry which is probably manageable for the club but not ideal for Canada. Hart would likely have wanted to at least bring in Ashtone Morgan as well but it would make sense that he wanted to work with Paul Mariner and figure out what was best for both sides.
Hart did call up a couple of European based players despite many expecting the side to be almost entirely North American based. There is no Atiba Hutchinson, Kevin McKenna, or Simeon Jackson and even some of the bigger MLS names are missing, ie Dwayne De Rosario is absent from the list.
All those people being unavailable means that Hart was forced to look outside of the traditional player pool. Doneil Henry, Russell Teibert, Evan James and Lucas Cavallini are all in line to earn their first appearances for the senior national team appearance having been key parts of Canada's squad at the Olympic qualifiers back in the spring.
Another name many Canadian fans will be happy to see is Marcel de Jong. De Jong, along with Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault, returns to the squad following a lengthy injury layoff that saw both players made unavailable for the spring games. Having both back combined with having Patrice Bernier and Terry Dunfield playing increased minutes will be a big boost to Canada's depth going into September.
1- GK- Lars Hirschfeld | NOR / Vålerenga Fotball
2- M- Nik Ledgerwood | SWE / Hammarby Fotboll
3- M - Russell Teibert | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
4- CB- Dejan Jaković | USA / D.C. United
5- CB- André Hainault | USA / Houston Dynamo
6- M - Julian de Guzman | USA / FC Dallas
7- M - Terry Dunfield | CAN / Toronto FC
8- M- Will Johnson | USA / Real Salt Lake
9- F- Tosaint Ricketts |
10- F- Lucas Cavallini | URU / Club Nacional
11- FB- Marcel de Jong | GER / FC Augsburg
12- M- Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault |
13- FB- Ante Jazić | USA / Chivas USA
14- M/F- Evan James | CAN / Impact Montréal
15- CB- Doneil Henry | CAN / Toronto FC
16- M- Pedro Pacheco | POR / CD Santa Clara
18- GK- Milan Borjan | TUR / Sivasspor
20- M - Patrice Bernier | CAN / Impact Montréal