Canada men’s head coach John Herdman has released his first post-Qatar roster that will face Curaçao and Honduras in a pair of crucial CONCACAF Nations League matches. As expected there are a number of new, or at least not so common, names joining up with the 23-man CANMNT squad.
Many of the team’s core from the past two years remains with the team and most of them are on fire for their clubs. The team will be led out by veterans Milan Borjan, Atiba Hutchinson, and Steven Vitoria. Stars like Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, Cyle Larin and Stephen Eustáquio are arriving in camp in the the form of their lives.
Your squad for two crucial @CNationsLeague matches!— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) March 16, 2023
3/28 Homecoming : https://t.co/KHYMEkdZ2c#CANMNT x @CIBC #WeCAN
There are a number of peripheral players and new faces included with the squad this time around. Among those peripheral players summoned by Herdman are Derek Cornelius, Charles-Andreas Brym and Ayo Akinola.
New faces making the cut for this camp include; Dominick Zator, Vic Loturi, and Tom McGill. Zator has not been called up by Herdman in over four years and has yet to earn his first senior cap. For Loturi and McGill this will be their first CanMNT senior camp. The selection of 22-year-old goalkeeper Tom McGill of Brighton & Hove Albion U-21, came from out of nowhere.
Captain Atiba Hutchinson was somewhat of a surprise inclusion to this squad as he has hardly featured for club Besiktas since last summer. The inclusions of Scott Kennedy and Kamal Miller are also surprising as the former appears to be still working his way back to fitness and the latter is out with an undisclosed injury and will miss CF Montreal’s home opener with Miami this weekend. Akinola’s inclusion is also surprising given his form and as he missed last weekend’s Toronto FC match, although he has returned to training this week.
There is a lengthy list of usual suspects absent this camp. Missing out this month are Junior Hoilett, Maxime Crepeau, Sam Piette, and James Pantemis, all on account of injury. Also missing out are Doneil Henry, Liam Millar, Ike Ugbo, and David Wotherspoon, as these players are experiencing dips in form or not seeing sufficient match time with their clubs.
Lucas Cavallini has been off to a good start with new Club Tijuana of Liga MX, but unanticipatedly was left off this month’s roster. An unknown recent injury appears to be the cause of his absence. Joel Waterman is another surprise omission. Despite missing the first two CF Montreal games due to a pre-season injury, Waterman returned to action this past weekend and was considered among the team’s better performers on the night.
Perhaps the most astonishing exclusion to this month’s squad is Nashville’s Jacob Shaffelburg. Revitalized since his move to the Music City and a return to a left-sided attacking role, Shaffelburg has 2 match-winning goals in his club’s first three games.
There are just six MLS based players in the roster as opposed to 17 European based players. Toronto FC leads the selections with four players, Jonathan Osorio, Richie Laryea, Mark-Anthony Kaye and Ayo Akinola, while Dayne St. Clair of Minnesota United and Kamal Miller of CF Montreal round out the MLS contingent.
The coach made some brave decisions in arriving at this roster. Of his selections John Herdman stated in today’s media availability,
“The selection was about winning matches, and who’s fit.”
He added further about the newcomers to the squad,
“I think there is some transition expected over the next year or two. I think there’ll be a transition”
One player to watch is Ismaël Koné. It will be interesting to observe how many minutes the Watford midfielder will see, and if the 20-year-old Koné is ready to cement his spot as a starter for Canada. It will also be intriguing to see if dual national newcomers Tom McGill and Victor Loturi will earn their first Canada caps. Both players will be welcome additions to Canada’s goalkeeper and midfield player pools.
This months Nations League matches will determine if Canada wins their League A group, and goes on to meet with the three other League A group winners in a single game knockout semifinal. The semifinal winners meet for the championship while the defeated semifinalists meet to determine third place.
25th of March 2023 vs Curacao at Ergilio Hato Stadion Willemstad, Curaçao
28th of March 2023 vs Honduras at BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario