Having represented Canada since filing for the one-time switch from Scotland in 2016, Scott Arfield is no stranger to the CanMNT. He has been with the team long enough to have experienced the darker periods of Canadian soccer, even captaining the side in the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup. However, Arfield has strangely not answered the call to represent his country since November 2019 with no confirmation on the exact reasons why.
So why are we suddenly interested in whether Arfield will play for Canada again? Well, with the CanMNT currently sitting atop the 2022 World Cup Qualifying CONCACAF Region table, there is a realistic chance of Canada qualifying for the competition for the first time in over 35 years - a potential historic achievement that any Canadian player would want to be a part of. Adding fuel to the fire is Arfield’s latest interview with Sky Sports Scotland where he discussed his Rangers contract and his desire to play for the CanMNT if the opportunity presented itself again.
How has Arfield performed with Rangers this season?
Arfield had a relatively difficult start to his 2021-22 Rangers season under previous Manager, Steven Gerrard, where he no longer found himself as a regular in the starting 11. In 23 of Rangers’ matches across the Scottish Premiership, the Scottish League Cup and Europa League, Arfield only appeared in 14 matches under Gerrard for a total of 523 minutes from a possible 1,260 minutes. The combination of getting older (33 years old) and increased competition from new players transferring to the team (Juninho and John Lundstram) also likely contributed to his decrease in playing time.
Still, since Gerrard left for Aston Villa on November 11, 2021, things have looked brighter for Arfield as he has featured in all seven matches, scoring two goals and playing a total of 401 minutes from a possible 630 minutes. He looks to be a more important piece in Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s Rangers team in the preferred 4-2-3-1 formation and the shift to playing in a more advanced role as a central attacking midfielder has brought out the best from Arfield.
How could Arfield potentially fit with the current CanMNT?
For the last few International breaks when everyone has been available for selection, Herdman’s preference has been to go with six midfielders in Eustaquio, Hutchinson, Wotherspoon, Osorio, Kaye and Piette. Unfortunately, Wotherspoon picked up an ACL injury a couple weeks ago and will be out for the next eight months, testing CanMNT’s central midfield depth. Recalling Arfield to the CanMNT would provide a nice replacement option (and likely improvement) for Wotherspoon as the push for Qatar 2022 continues.
Aside from midfield depth, the other added benefit from Arfield’s potential inclusion would be the formation flexibility. With Herdman shifting between the 4-4-2, 3-4-3, 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 formations so far, Arfield’s recent play as a CAM for Rangers could provide him with a more consistent link between defense and attack and help to create more scoring chances.
What do you think of Arfield’s potential return to the CanMNT after a two year absence? Would you welcome him back?