ST. JOHN’S, Canada— Among the few household names associated with soccer in this country, Callum Montgomery isn’t one of them. At least not yet.
Having never played on a national youth side for Canada or made a provincial team growing up in British Columbia, one could be forgiven for not knowing Montgomery’s backstory.
Despite his unheralded early playing days, the Nanaimo native was given an opportunity to pursue a professional soccer career in the U.S and hasn’t looked back since.
Following four successful years in college with UNC Charlotte, the 6’3 center back was taken fourth overall in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft by FC Dallas and was subsequently named to the provisional roster for Canada’s under-23 Olympic qualifying squad, a privilege he isn’t taking for granted.
“I was unbelievably excited about it,” Montgomery told Waking the Red. “I think every footballer wants to represent their country and it’s been a long time coming.”
Sports have essentially been put on hold due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation ever since mid-March. As a result, Olympic qualifiers have been pushed back to 2021, while the USL Championship, the league which Montgomery currently plays in with San Antonio FC (on loan from FC Dallas), awaits clearance to resume their season.
In the lone game San Antonio completed before the USL campaign came to an unexpected halt, they came out 1-0 winners back on March 7th, with Montgomery picking up the game’s only goal and man of the match honours in his first appearance for the club.
Fresh off a dream debut with his new team as well as seeing his name listed among the group tasked with getting Canada into the Olympics, the newly turned 23-year-old saw it all put on pause.
With aspirations of cracking the FC Dallas and Canadian first team on his mind for the future, Montgomery is managing to stay focused amidst the uncertainty.
“I’m really goal-oriented, I like to set goals for the short-term, medium-term, and long-term,” he said. “Right now I’m very focused on taking care of business in MLS with FC Dallas because I think once I start playing here and hopefully performing here then other opportunities are going to come and other doors are going to start opening along the way.”
MLS Senior Writer Matthew Doyle recently came up with a projected 2022 team were Canada to make into the World Cup in Qatar and one of the more intriguing names included was Montgomery.
While the former NCAA All-American defender was grateful to be considered among such a talented group for 2022, he has more serious aspirations for the next edition of the tournament when he’ll have plenty more first-team experience to lean on when it’s hosted in Canada four years later.
“I definitely have the 2026 World Cup circled as one of my long term goals,” said Montgomery. “I want to be in the squad and starting but that’s a long way away and so for me right now I just need to start cracking the Dallas lineup and contributing.”
With the MLS hoping to resume play in the coming months, Montgomery might get the chance to make the jump as a permanent Dallas player quicker than anticipated.
If the proposed neutral site, tournament-style format were to come to fruition, more lineup rotation within squads would be needed to avoid injuries.
As a depth option for a veteran Dallas’ back-line that features former MLS defender of the year Matt Hedges, Montgomery could learn a lot about what it takes to make it at the highest level.
Currently back in Dallas training with his parent club, the second-year pro is unsure where he’ll be playing once soccer begins to come back in the near future.
In any case, he remains concentrated on showing both club and country what he can do.
“I don’t know how it’s going to play out so I’m just trying to stay focused, trying to stay fit so that wherever it is, whether it’s in San Antonio or Dallas, I’m in shape and I’m ready to go whenever we get back to playing.”