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Best of the Rest: Who missed out on TSN’s top 10 CanMNT players list?

Which Canucks just missed the cut and should they have cracked the list?

Canada’s men’s national team lines up ahead of a FIFA World Cup Qualifier in Vancouver, B.C.
(Canada Soccer)

Last Thursday, Kristian Jack and the crew over at TSN soccer complied their list of the top 10 current Canadian male players.

Overall, there were few surprises, particularly with Bayern Munich golden boy Alphonso Davies coming in atop the list at number one.

Some 18 years Davies’ senior was Atiba Hutchinson, sitting in third place with the 37-year-old still playing consistent minutes for Besiktas on a regular basis.

Collectively the group had a little bit of everything; Youthful athleticism, veteran experience, and solid goalkeeping.

Well almost everything, as the lack of true defenders in the bunch was one of the obvious omissions, a problem that head coach John Herdman acknowledged in chatting with TSN.

Despite some concerns on the back-end, the core of Canadian players plying their trade in leagues around the world right now is arguably as strong as it has ever been.

Assembling a list of the top 10 players leaves out some genuine quality as a result. With this in mind, here are a couple of the players who could have cracked the list but found themselves on the outside looking in.

Milan Borjan

Position: GK Age: 32 Club: Red Star Belgrade

Canada v Cuba: Group A - 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Borjan is the most surprising name to have been excluded from the group. His 49 appearances for Canada would be second highest on the list, matched by midfielder Samuel Piette and topped only by the aforementioned Hutchinson.

The 32-year-old also came into 2020 as the undisputed number one keeper for his country, having been in the starting XI for all nine of Canada’s matches in 2019, including every Gold Cup fixture.

Red Star Belgrade sat 11 points clear atop of the Serbian Superliga, losing just once in 26 league fixtures before the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis. Borjan started in 22 of those 26 domestic matches and all 14 of Red Star’s Champions League qualifying and group stage games.

Despite the impressive resume, the 32-year-old was edged out by the much younger and much less experienced keeper in Maxime Crepeau, who came in at tenth on the list.

Crepeau has only five caps for his country to date, mostly due to the consistent presence in the Canadian goal that has been Borjan for the past decade.

At only 25, the Vancouver Whitecaps keeper’s best days are ahead of him, and the torch will eventually be passed onto him from Borjan.

For now, the inclusion of the understudy Crepeau in the top 10 ahead of Borjan feels a little premature.

Cyle Larin

Position: F Age: 24 Club: Zulte Waregem (on loan from Beşiktaş)

Jamaica v Canada

Before youngsters like Davies and Jonathan David emerged onto the scene, Larin was the one to watch in Canadian soccer circles.

By age 22, he had made a name for himself in the MLS with Orlando City. He amassed 43 goals in 87 appearances across three seasons with Orlando before making the jump to European football. To date, only Dwayne De Rosario has scored more goals in the MLS amongst Canadians (Rosario scored 104 goals in 343 league appearances.)

Larin’s career with Besiktas started off on a high note in 2018 with a substitute goal on his debut as well as a hat-trick on the final day of his first campaign in Turkey.

His sophmore season in 18-19 was a difficult one, and as a result, he was loaned out to Belgian side Zulte Waregem in July of 2019. Since then, Larin has made the most of his loan spell, turning in an impressive rate of nine goals and 11 assists in 33 appearances in Belgium during the 2019-20 calendar.

The Canadian’s impressive year hasn’t gone unnoticed within Europe. According to Turkish newspaper Milliyet, Larin has been linked with a move to Leeds United.

With the English side close to securing promotion from the Championship to the Premier League, a move to Leeds could be a huge boost to Larin’s case to find more minutes within Herdman’s congested Canadian attack if he can continue to produce goals on a bigger stage.

Whether Borjan or Larin should have beat out any of the names ahead of them in the top 10 is a matter of opinion. The omission of two Canadians who are regular starters in Europe is however a definitive sign of the growth of the game in this country today.

Who else do you believe missed out?