What in the world has changed in the sales pitch for the Canadian men's national team? Canada spent a decade losing just about everyone of note who was a dual national: Ex-Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves to England, Jonathan De Guzman of Napoli to the Netherlands, Asmir Begovic of Chelsea to Bosnia and Teal Bunbury of the New England Revolution to the United States. That's just to name a few.
Somehow, however, they have turned things around, and it all started when FC Dallas forward, and 2014 MLS rookie of the year, Tesho Akindele chose Canada over the United States. In the following months Junior Hoilett would finally commit to the national team, Steven Vitoria saw that his window with Portugal had closed and Scott Arfield gave up on Scotland, the national team that had never given him a chance.
This momentum is now trickling down to the Canadian youth national teams. A U-20 camp that was supposed to happen earlier this month in Costa Rica was cancelled after volcanic activity made flying to the Central American country difficult. Despite the disappointment, Canadian U-20 coach Rob Gale tweeted out the fact that the camp would have featured plenty of new names.
It starts with Kris Twardek, a 19-year-old from Ottawa, Ontario who had previously chosen to represent the Czech Republic at the youth international level. Twardek recently signed a one-year deal with Millwall FC of League One in England. He has spent most of his time with their U-21 squad, but has appeared on the senior bench on a few occasions.
Waking the Red has learned that Twardek filed a one-time switch, and will now represent Canada at the international level. Twardek had not been involved in the Czech setup recently.
Twardek would not have been the only new face in that camp, however. Five other new faces had been called to Costa Rica to represent Canada. Twardek is the only one of the group who has been cap-tied, as the Costa Rica matches were not official FIFA events.
They include 19-year-old Emmanuel Zambazis, who plays in the Greek Super League for Iraklis and has previously represented Greece at the U-19 level. 18-year-old Matthew Constant, of the University of New Mexico. 19-year-old Sergiu Anton, a forward for CD National in Portugal who has also represented his native Romania. 17-year-old Zachary Guillard who spent this past season with Lyon's second team in France and 17-year old Jake Morris who plays for Weston FC and is on the U.S. radar.
It is unfortunate that the camp didn't get to happen, but the fact that Canada continues to increase its player pool is certainly a positive. This camp is expected to be rescheduled for later this year. Canada is preparing for the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 championship in May, hosted in Costa Rica.
Women's U-17 Squad Learns Group for World Cup
In September, the Canadian U-17 women's side will be playing in the World Cup in Jordan. Earlier this week Canada learned that it play in the tournament's Group B with Germany, Venezuela and Cameroon. The Germans will always be a tough test for Canada, as they are a team the senior women have never beaten.
However, it should not be overly difficult for Canada to get out of that group in second place, a result that would see them play a favourable quarter-final against the winner of Group A. Canada struggled at times in qualifying, but was able to beat Haiti 4-2 in a decisive third place game.
Men's U-23 Wins Big on Carribean Tour
The opponents were not overly difficult, but Canada U-23 came away with a pair of impressive results from a camp earlier this month in the Carribean. Canada beat the senior national teams of Guyana and Grenada 5-1 and 3-0 respectively.
Toronto FC II leading scorer Raheem Edwards was the most impressive player in the camp by all accounts. Edwards scored two goals and added three assists to lead Canada to a pair of victories. Toronto FC's Jordan Hamilton also got on the scoresheet against Guyana.
Caleb Clarke also scored a pair, which Orlando City first rounder Richie Laryea, Ben Fisk and Ben McKendry each scored once for Canada.