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Benito Floro: We Want to Win the Gold Cup

Having just called his strongest roster yet into camp for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Dominica, Benito Floro made some bold statements today about his expectations for this summer.

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For Benito Floro there aren't any ifs, and or buts. Ahead of the opening round of World Cup qualification for Russia 2018 against Dominica, Floro isn't looking for any moral victories, only reaching the summit this summer will be good enough.

"This summer, we want to qualify for the next FIFA World Cup qualifying stage, we want to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and we want to qualify for the Olympics, which is very important for Canada Soccer as the Olympic team will look to form the base of the National Team in the future," said Floro in a press release.

Canada hasn't won the CONCACAF Gold Cup since the start of the 21st century. 15 years ago, a Canadian team captained by Jason De Vos took home the continental crown in one of the biggest moments in the country's soccer history.

If they were to do it this year, the impact would be even more profound. It would not only mean a playoff with the United States for a chance to play in the 2017 Confederation's Cup, but also a berth at the 2016 Copa America Centenario. Both of these tournaments would be massive in increasing the exposure and respect of the Canadian national team.

Olympic qualification would be incredibly positive as well. Canada hasn't played in an Olympic soccer tournament since 1984 in Los Angeles, an event which was boycotted by 16 countries. Canada won Gold at the 1904 Olympic games.

But these lofty expectations don't mean Canada are looking too far into the future. They are still focused on getting things off on the right foot against Dominica. While it may not be easy to find out information on their Caribbean opponent, they will still pose a solid test.

"These first [elimination] games will be more important in regards to testing our capacity to remain concentrated on the opposition," Floro said. "It's very important."

He is hoping the roster he has called will be ready when they arrive into camp on June 7, because he won't be happy with any half efforts against Dominica.

"I hope my players understand the situation, because it will be very very bad if we don't play well," Floro said in a media call today.

The big story out of today's press conference had to do with FC Dallas forward Tesho Akindele, who committed to the Canadian national team despite having previously been calling into the United States camp. Playing against Dominica would mean Akindele is permanently cap tied to the Canadian team.

"We called Tesho (in) because he explained to us the desire to play with Canada," said Floro, who has always valued commitment to the program.

Akindele was named MLS rookie of the year last season after scoring 7 goals and adding 3 assists. This year in Dallas he has 3 goals and 1 assist in MLS play.

The 23-year-old Calgary native explained to Neil Davidson of the Canadian Press that it was Canada that he always dreamed of playing for, because he didn't even know the United States was an option. In a sense, this was about following his dreams.

As far as this roster goes, Floro said today that this is about 80 per cent of the team he is hoping to field for the upcoming Gold Cup. Where those changes will be made is only speculation at this time.

While the game of soccer on the world stage takes a step back with the FIFA scandals, Canada is trying to move forwards against the tide. If their efforts succeed, they too with garner international headlines, but for a far more positive reason.