Canada is getting ready for another major international youth event and this time they will be hoping to do one better than the U20 squad and qualify for the World Cup. The U17 team under head coach Sean Fleming is getting ready to head down to Panama City, Panama to take part in the CONCACAF U17 Championships with the hopes of qualifying for the World Cup this fall in the United Arab Emirates.
Canada opens the tournament on April 6th with a game against Trinidad and Tobago which will be crucial to their chances of advancing out of the group in first place since the tournament again uses three team groups with the top two sides advancing. Canada follows that up with a game against Costa Rica on the 10th which will be a tricky test.
With Canada drawing Costa Rica in a pair of friendlies earlier this year Fleming's squad will know what they are up against and will know that if they want to finish on top of Group B they will have to be at their very best. If Canada can find the needed results to make it out of the group they would be paired with either the first place or the second place team out of Group A for that all important quarterfinal. Group A is made up of Jamaica, Panama, and Barbados so Canada would do well to finish on top of their group to avoid the home team in Panama for the quarterfinals.
Just like the under 20 event the four teams that win in the quarterfinals earn the World Cup places and the remaining games are really just for the bragging rights. Canada's U20 squad came up one game short of making it to the World Cup when they lost to the United States but their problems began with the opening game defeat to Cuba.
Canada's U17 team will likely have been watching what the U20 team went through and hopefully learned the lesson that in such a compact format there is no room for mistakes as any stumble can make the road to the World Cup that much harder.
Canada will actually have one experienced player on their roster in Jordan Hamilton. He was a part of Fleming's squad that qualified for the World Cup in 2011 thanks to an impressive performance in the CONCACAF Championships in Jamaica. Canada reached the event finals that year before losing 3-0 to the United States. Hamilton's role in that event was limited but he did make substitute appearances in all three games of the knockout round.
Hamilton was then left off the squad for the 2011 U17 World Cup but this time around he is set to be a key part of Fleming's squad and that experience could prove vital to Canada's chances of success. He is familiar with how important it is to get off to a quick start and avoid stumbles in this sort of event and should help the rest of the team understand the kind of focused that is needed to ensure they get the job done.
Hamilton will not be the only Toronto FC Academy player heading down to Panama though as he is joined by Elias Roubos, Kevon Black, Ian Fernandes, and Derick Sequeira on the roster. It is once again a strong Toronto FC contingent heading down to represent Canada.
TFCA's five players on the roster is an impressive contribution but is actually bettered by the Vancouver Whitecaps residency program which is represented by six players on the pre-tournament roster. The biggest disappointment comes from the Montreal Impact who only have a single player on the roster.
Canada will head down to Florida with 23 players for a camp before the roster is trimmed down to 20 players and the team heads to Panama on April 4th for the CONCACAF Championships.
GK- Marco Carducci | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency
GK- Daniel Milton | CAN / Ajax Thunder
GK- James Pantemis | CAN / Lakeshore SC
D- Alex Comsia | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency
D- Mathieu Laurent | CAN / Mississauga Falcons
D- Elias Roubos | CAN / Toronto FC Academy
D- Kevon Black | CAN / Toronto FC Academy
D- Ian Fernandes | CAN / Toronto FC Academy
D- Aron Mkungilwa | CAN / Académie Impact Montréal
D- Samuel Vinson | USA / West Pine Strikers
M- Mikaël Cantave | FRA / Orvault Sport Football
M- Marco-Leonel Dominguez | CAN / Braves d'Ahuntsic
M- Kianz Gonzales-Froese | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency
M- Jordan Haynes | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency
M- Derick Sequeira | CAN / Toronto FC Academy
M/F- Hanson Boakai | CAN / FC Edmonton Reserve
F- Jordan Hamilton | CAN / Toronto FC Academy
F- El Mehdi Ibn Brahim | CAN / Braves d'Ahuntsic
F- Derek Cornelius | CAN / Unionville U-21
M- Ali Musse | CAN / WSA . Winnipeg
M- Marco Bustos | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency
M- Andrew Gordon | CAN / Woodbridge Strikers
M- Matthew Chow | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency