Canada Soccer revealed its men’s roster for the upcoming pre-World Cup tune-up match against Bahrain, scheduled for November 11th. This match and the mini-camp preceding it were arranged to provide the sizeable MLS player contingent with match action ahead of the tournament, which begins for Les Rouges on November 23rd when they face Belgium in their opening match.
There were no European based players expected to be present for this match as they will not be released until World Cup window officially opens after the weekend of November 12th and 13th. However, Liam Fraser from Belgian second division side KMSK Deinze bucked this trend with a call.
There is another pre-tournament match scheduled for November 17th against Japan, but John Herdman will have to announce his final 26-man tournament squad a mere four days before that game. With the arrival of the CanMNT’s European cohort, many of the players announced by Canada Soccer today will return home after the Bahrain match. Canada’s tournament roster, like all participating nations, should be announced by November 13th, 2022.
CANMNT head coach Herdman selected a 21-man roster to face Bahrain. Leading the charge are eight players from CF Montreal (Alistair Johnston, Kamal Miller, Joel Waterman, Zachary Brault-Guillard, Ismaël Koné, Samuel Piette, James Pantemis and Matthieu Choinière, along with seven players from Toronto FC (Richie Laryea, Jonathan Osorio, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Doneil Henry, Lukas McNaughton, Jayden Nelson and Ayo Akinola). Single player contributions from each of LAFC (Maxime Crepeau), Minnesota United FC (Dayne St. Clair), Vancouver Whitecaps FC (Lucas Cavallini), LA Galaxy (Raheem Edwards) and Nashville SC (Jacob Shaffelburg) round out the MLS contingent.
Unfortunately, nearly all Canadian MLS players found themselves out of contention for the MLS Cup Final, aside from Crepeau. As such, Herdman will be looking at this camp as a means to keep those players as fit as possible. The CF Montreal contingent made it to the Eastern Conference semi-finals, but everyone else was out of action after the first round. Others including Cavallini and the Toronto players will not have seen a competitive match in well over a month ahead of Qatar.
With key midfielder Jonathan Osorio of TFC having been sidelined for much of the past five months with post-concussion symptoms, this game will be a litmus test of sorts to determine if he ready to return for the tournament. A healthy Osorio will provide a tremendous boost for Les Rouges. Fellow TFC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye also spent considerable time on the sidelines due to injury since his mid-season move to Toronto, and is also keen to shake off the rust.
Doneil Henry is expected to get the start against Bahrain. Like his TFC brethren, Henry is looking for match action as he was often overlooked by club manager Bob Bradley since his mid-season return to Toronto. The unfortunate injury to Scott Kennedy, which has prevented him from joining up with the final squad, may have taken the pressure off Henry, if there was any, but he will want to keep himself ahead of Joel Waterman as Steven Vitoria’s understudy. Waterman, for his part is looking to cement a spot as Canada’s fifth central defender.
Striker Lucas Cavallini of the Whitecaps, is in a similar situation to Henry. He is also expected to be in the starting XI for this match, has he looks to regain some form ahead of the tournament after having served a four game suspension late in the MLS season. He too is vying for a role off the bench at Qatar, with Jonathan David and Cyle Larin expected to get the starts.
Neither of the goalkeepers selected to face Bahrain are expected to start in the World Cup as it is virtually assured that Milan Borjan has the starters role locked in. As such, both Maxime Crepeau and Dayne St. Clair could split the duties against Qatar. This will be contingent upon the agreed upon number of substitutions for this friendly match.
Making their well deserved debuts at a senior camp are midfielder Mathieu Choinière and centre-back Lukas MacNaughton.
This mini-camp will hardly serve as a last minute audition for many players; John Herdman probably knows who will be on his team aside from a player or two. With the expanded roster for this World Cup it is just as likely that those final selections will not see the pitch during the tournament.
However, for some players the auditions for the next cycle begin with this camp, such as Matthieu Choinière, Jayden Nelson and Ayo Akinola. Viewed through this lens it is disappointing to have not seen some of the top performing MLS Next Pro players like Jacen Russell-Rowe or Mo Farsi, or some young high end CPL players like Sean Rea, Woobens Pacius or Alessandro Hojabrpour called in.
Canada takes on Bahrain on November 11th, 2022 at 10:30 am EST.