Will Johnson and Atiba Hutchinson are set to return to the Canadian Men's National Team as they were included in Benito Floro's 22-man roster that was announced on Thursday afternoon. The pair should bring plenty of stability for Canada in the middle of the park for their home and away series against Belize in the next round of World Cup qualifying.
With the veterans back in the middle of the park Floro has once again elected to bring in a strong contingent of young players. Maxime Crepeau, Sam Adekugbe, Kyle Bekker, Luca Gasparotto, Cyle Larin, Karl Ouimette, Michael Petrasso, Samuel Piette, Adam Straith, and Russell Teibert are all on the roster meaning Floro has a total of 10 players in the squad that were born in 1990 or later. It certainly gives the team a very youthful feel.
The youth in this squad may be a big part of the program's future but the present is also there. Johnson and Hutchinson are joined by Nik Ledgerwood, Julian de Guzman, Marcel de Jong, David Edgar, Nik Ledgerwood, and Tosaint Ricketts in providing a strong core to the team. More of those veterans will make up the bulk of the starting lineup in these games with Canada expecting to win comfortably over the two legs.
The surprise for Toronto FC fans might just be the fact that the team is not represented on this roster. It is a rare occurrence that they do not contribute a single player to a Canada squad and the absence of Ashtone Morgan and Jonathan Osorio might just have something to do with the team being in the middle of a playoff race at the moment. We could see something similar when the USMNT name their roster in the coming days with Michael Bradley potentially being left off of that squad as well.
For Canada these two games will probably be as hard as they make them. If they can make the most of the chances that they are going to create against Belize they should be able to cruise to a comfortable win. That will require a noticeable improvement from what we saw at the Gold Cup though as the team struggled to score this summer.
Floro will be hoping that Cyle Larin can bring some of his MLS goal scoring form to the international stage and can lead the attack for his squad. If he can become a consistent scoring threat for the national team it would be a huge boost as the likes of Ricketts and Marcus Haber have yet to prove that they can be counted on to score on a regular basis at this level.
Canada will host the first leg at BMO Field on September 4th with the second leg taking place in Belize on the 8th. It will be the first time that the two countries have met since 2004 when Canada won 8-0 over two legs that took place in Kingston.
Canada will be hoping for a similar result this time around to book their spot in the fourth round of qualifiers which will get underway in November.
GK- Milan Borjan | BUL / PFK Ludogorets Razgrad
GK- Maxime Crépeau | CAN / Impact Montréal
GK- Kenny Stamatopoulos | SWE / AIK Fotbol
CB- David Edgar | ENG / Sheffield United
CB- Luca Gasparotto | SCO / Greenock Morton FC
CB- Manjrekar James | HUN / Diósgyöri VTK
FB- Samuel Adekugbe | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
FB- Marcel de Jong | USA / Sporting Kansas City
FB- Nik Ledgerwood | GER / Energie Cottbus
FB- Karl W. Ouimette | USA / New York Red Bulls
M- Tesho Akindele | USA / FC Dallas
M- Kyle Bekker | CAN / Impact Montréal
M- Atiba Hutchinson | TUR / Beşiktaş JK
M- Will Johnson | USA / Portland Timbers FC
M- Issey Nakajima-Farran | MAS / Terengganu FA
M- Michael Petrasso | ENG / Queens Park Rangers
M- Samuel Piette | ESP / Racing Ferrol
M- Adam Straith | NOR / Fredrikstad FK
M- Russell Teibert | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
F- Marcus Haber | ENG / Crewe Alexandra
F- Cyle Larin | USA / Orlando City SC
F- Tosaint Ricketts | TUR / Boluspor FC