You wouldn't be faulted for looking at the Canadian Men's National team roster for their upcoming friendlies against Iceland and being more than a little surprised at some of the names of the list. While January camps for North American international teams are usually known for this, being composed almost entirely of North American based players, there were still a number of surprises on the Canadian team.
From top to bottom, Sean Melvin to Kyle Porter, a Canadian team without members of the U-20 side who tomorrow begin play in the CONCACAF U20 Championship. Five players on the Canadian team are without a club: Porter, Nana Attakora, Adam Straith, Julian De Guzman and former Toronto FC forward Dwayne De Rosario.
Unexpected additions to the lineup included goalkeeper Melvin, who while listed in the official lineup as with the Vancouver Whitecaps Residency program is actually currently playing for the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Similarly, defender Kevon Black was listed as playing with Toronto FC Academy, but has actually spent time with Duke University.
Johnny Grant is a good story for Canadian development as he is a product of League 1 Ontario, the league put in place to develop players of his age group. The 20-year-old has been over in Europe on trial with notable Belgian side KCR Genk. He plays right back for Sigma... you heard that right, the savour of our program may be here, an actual Canadian right back. Doneil Henry, you may have company.
The midfield is definitely the strong point of the Canadian team, as names like Patrice Bernier, Jonathan Osorio, Russell Teibert and Issey Nakajima-Farran are all recognizable. The return of Samuel Piette is nice to see, however, as the 20-year-old has been away from the national team for a couple of camps now. He has been getting time for Deportivo De La Coruna's reserve team in Spain, and will definitely feature for the U23 squad.
Up front, the return of Iain Hume will be a welcome one for most national team fans. One of the most committed and consistent performers for the team he will certainly help give Canada at least some threat up front during this camp. Hume had a very successful year with the Kerala Blasters of the Indian Super League.
One of the big criticisms with Canadian manager Benito Floro's selections, especially at this camp, is the fact that he doesn't seem to rate the NASL very highly. He has called Hanson Boakai in the past, but others have gone uncalled. John Smits of FC Edmonton is a surprising omission considering the weak goalkeeping pool. He is one of a couple players who could have helped this team.
Drew Beckie of Ottawa Fury took to twitter to express this frustration:
Ligue-1 Ontario and MLS academy players over pro players that get 25-30 games a season at a good level? Makes sense. Very frustrating.— Drew Beckie (@DrewBeckie) January 9, 2015
Five Toronto FC players were called into camp, as Quillan Roberts, Black, Ashtone Morgan, Chris Manella and Jonathan Osorio are all on the roster. Kyle Bekker is a notable omission, and considering the consistency with which Floro has called him in the past it is even more surprising that he won't be at this camp.
Michael Bradley was called to the US camp, where there were a couple of interesting notes for Canada as well. FC Dallas forward Tesho Akindele has been called up for the Americans, and one can expect this means the MLS Rookie of the Year will never feature for the Canadian National Team.
On a more positive note, narratives were echoed south of the border as the United States didn't call up Ethan Finlay, which seems to have prompted this reaction on twitter from the Columbus Crew player:
Are we really surprised?— Ethan Finlay (@EthanFinlay13) January 9, 2015
Finlay has the option to play for Canada through his parentage, and there were rumours that if the United States continued to hold out he would consider Canada, who have reached out to him in the past. Finlay would no doubt help the Canadian team immensely in the attacking third.
The Canadian camp starts on January 12 in Orlando, Florida. They will play two matches against Iceland, on Friday January 16 at 5:30 and Monday January 19 at 5:00. The matches represent an agreed upon "home friendly" for Canada in return for the away match Canada played in Iceland in 2007.
The full Canadian roster is listed below:
GK- Sean Melvin | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency
GK- Quillan Roberts | CAN / Toronto FC
GK- Kenny Stamatopoulos | SWE / AIK
D- Nana Attakora | unattached / sans club
D- Kevon Black | CAN / Toronto FC Academy
D- Jonathan Grant | CAN / Sigma FC
D- Dejan Jakovic | JPN / Shimizu S-Pulse
D- Manjrekar James | HUN / PMFC
D- Ashtone Morgan | CAN / Toronto FC
D- Karl W. Ouimette | CAN / Impact de Montréal
D- Adam Straith | unattached / sans club
D- Maxim Tissot | CAN / Impact de Montréal
M- Patrice Bernier | CAN / Impact de Montréal
M- Christoper Mannella | CAN / Toronto FC
M- Julian de Guzman | unattached / sans club
M- Jonathan Osorio | CAN / Toronto FC
M- Issey Nakajima-Farran | CAN / Impact de Montréal
M- Samuel Piette | ESP / Deportivo la Coruña
M- Daniel Stanese | GER / FC Augsburg II
M- Russell Teibert | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
F- Caleb Clarke | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
F- Dwayne De Rosario | unattached / sans club
F- Iain Hume | IND / Kerala Blasters
F- Kyle Porter | unattached / sans club