Canada Soccer revealed its men’s roster for the two scheduled matches next month. John Herdman’s side were also supposed to play Iran in an international friendly, but the game was called off on Thursday, May 26th.
In the first of two Junes fixtures, Les Rouges will host Curaçao at BC Place to open up their CONCACAF Nations League campaign. Following that, the CANMNT concludes their window with a visit to Honduras.
Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team have announced their squad for the upcoming series of three international matches in June including the 2022-23 edition of Concacaf Nations League.— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) May 25, 2022
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CANMNT head coach Herdman selected a 25-man roster, just like he did during the March window, with 20 players, who largely comprise his core over the last year, returning from that camp as well. With nine attacking players, it would appear a bit top heavy up front, but may appear to be a signal that Herdman is continuing to test some of his forwards to determine who to include on the plane to Qatar.
Dayne St. Clair’s selection is an apt reward for his positive start at the club level, where he appears to have re-taken the starter’s spot with Minnesota United. Whether he sees any action over this window may be questionable, given the locked in status of Milan Borjan and Maxime Crepeau in front of him, but it would not be unwarranted.
Ike Ugbo returns for his fourth call up since making his Canada debut in November 2021, but serious minutes have been extremely scarce since then. Given the number of forwards called into camp, it would appear minutes may be at a premium yet again. However, it is likely Herdman will be rotating some forwards in and out of the matchday lineups, as the total camp has two players over the matchday roster maximum.
“These are two opportunities to take steps forward with this group of players in preparation for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar,” - John Herdman,
Five players from March’s roster missed out on the upcoming camp: Cristián Gutiérrez, Derek Cornelius, Liam Fraser, Ismaël Koné and Liam Millar. The reasons for their exclusions are varied. Gutiérrez is just returning to match fitness with Vancouver and wasn’t utilized by Herdman when called up for the last window. Cornelius, while having had a good club season in Greece, he too was not utilized by Herdman in the last window. Aside from being somewhat on the fringe of the CANMNT, Fraser’s club football ended more than 4 weeks ago. After a hot start in February, Koné’s exclusion can be partially ascribed to experiencing a drop in form and fighting for minutes with CF Montreal of late. As for Millar, he would undoubtedly have been in the squad had he not broken his wrist in FC Basel’s penultimate game of their season.
Players returning to the fold after absences of one or more international windows include Charles-Andreas Brym, Samuel Piette, and Alphonso Davies. Brym has been rewarded for the prolific second half of his club season at FC Eindhoven, where since mid January, he has scored seven goals and assisted another in 19 regular season and playoff-promotion games, Davies makes his first appearance for Les Rouges since the two World Cup qualifying games in Edmonton last November. Davies missed considerable game time from January to mid-April after his bout with myocarditis, but returned in time to participate in earning Bayern Munich’s record 10th consecutive Bundesliga title. Piette similarly returns to the CANMNT set up since suffering an ankle injury in the January World Cup qualifying window.
Surprise inclusions, although undeniably meritorious inclusions, belong to Raheem Edwards and Luca Koleosho. Edwards has shot out to a quick and successful start to his first season with the LA Galaxy, having recorded five assists and an 80.9 passing accuracy percentage in his first 12 games for the club. Edwards essentially slots into Gutiérrez’s spot and role but is sure to see time off the bench. Koleosho, who also goes by the name Warrick, is a coveted dual national. He was born in the United States and his mother is Canadian. Koleosho just recently participated in a USA U-20 camp, but was also invited to past Canadian U-20 camps too. Having just made his professional debut this past weekend with Espanyol’s first team in Spain’s La Liga, the teenager has a yet to be determined ceiling. However, it remains to be seen how many minutes and which games he will participate in this camp, as it is unknown whether the 17-year-old Connecticut native has definitively decided which country he wishes to represent in the long run.
Something somewhat surprising is that Herdman did not elect to bring additional centre-backs into camp, with a view to strengthening the team’s depth at what could still be considered Canada’s weakest position should veterans like Doneil Henry, or especially, Steven Vitoria, pull up injured at an inopportune time. CF Montreal’s Joel Waterman has had a solid start to the 2022 campaign and looked good in his 11 starts so far this season, but the 26-year-old did not receive a call-up.
There is also some surprise that an opportunity to continue broadening the pool of attack-minded midfielders was not taken. While Marcelo Flores recently took himself out of the equation by pledging his international allegiance to his father’s homeland of Mexico, there was speculation that this might finally be the camp where Stefan Mitrovic joined the CANMNT fold. However, OneSoccer’s Gareth Wheeler reports that Herdman extended an invitation to the youngster, but Mitrovic was reportedly not ready to commit by making his one-time FIFA switch. He was also called up to Serbia’s U-21 camp. In addition, CF Montreal’s Mathieu Choinière has also made a strong argument in favour of his inclusion for a national team call up.
Overall, Herdman has picked a strong and largely predicable roster. There can be few complaints from Canadian national team supporters.