Herdman attracts players from 11 countries for upcoming World Cup qualifiers
Coach John Herdman has called on players from clubs from 11 different countries for three crucial World Cup qualifiers.
While some players were still in transit after the weekend’s club matches, the Canadian men held their first practice Monday afternoon at Inter Miami’s training ground in Fort Lauderdale.
They face a tough schedule with three matches in three countries over seven days, starting Thursday in Honduras.
After facing the 76th-ranked Hondurans, the 40th-ranked Canadians will host the 11th-ranked Americans on Sunday at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, before flying to San Salvador to face No. 70, on February 2 at the Estadio Cuscatlan.
Hamilton’s match sold out within hours with an originally expected crowd of 24,000. But recently implemented COVID-related restrictions mean attendance will be limited to 12,000 people.
Canada’s 25-man roster includes familiar faces like captain Atiba Hutchinson, goalkeeper Milan Borjan, midfielders Jonathan Osorio and Samuel Piette, and forwards Jonathan David and Cyle Larin.
Canada misses Alphonso Davies, its man of mark.
The 21-year-old from Edmonton, a star fullback for Bayern Munich who plays a more attacking role for the national team, has been sidelined with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, after testing positive for COVID .
St. Johnstone midfielder David Wotherspoon is recovering from knee surgery
There has been some confusion over the status of influential midfielder Stephen Eustaquio, who is currently on loan in Portugal from FC Pacos de Ferreira at Porto. While Portuguese reports say Eustaquio has tested positive for COVID, Canada Soccer have included him on the list and hope he can still join the national team for part of the international window.
Defenseman Scott Kennedy, who missed Canada’s last games due to injury, returns to the roster.
While MLS clubs have just started pre-season, Herdman’s squad includes 16 players from outside North America. There are eight Major League Soccer players and one free agent, defender Doneil Henry, whose contract with South Korea’s Suwon Samsung Bluewings has expired.
Canada tied Honduras and the United States 1-1 — in Toronto and Nashville, respectively — in early September in their first two CONCACAF qualifying final round games.
With six games to play, Canada (4-0-4, 16 points) leads the eight-team field ahead of the U.S. (4-1-3, 15 points) and Mexico and Panama (both 4-2-2, 14 points). ).
In March, the top three countries will book their ticket to Qatar 2022 with the fourth-place team facing a side from Oceania in an intercontinental qualifier to see who will join them.
The game against Honduras marks a return to the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula, where the Canadians’ 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign ended in an 8-1 humiliation in October 2012.
Hutchinson, Borjan and forward Lucas Cavallini are the only members of the current squad who dressed that day.
Canada have played at the San Pedro Sula Stadium once since then, losing 2-1 in September 2016 in a 2018 World Cup qualifier.
Goalkeepers: Milan Borjan, Red Star Belgrade (Serbia); Maxime Crepeau, Los Angeles FC (MLS); Jayson Leutwiler, Oldham Athletic (England).
Defenders: Derek Cornelius, Panetolikos FC (Greece); Doneil Henry, unattached; Scott Kennedy, SSV Jahn Regensburg (Germany); Kamal Miller, FC Montreal (MLS); Steven Vitoria, Moreirense FC (Portugal); Samuel Adekugbe, Hatayspor FC (Turkey); Cristian Gutierrez, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Alistair Johnston, Montreal (MLS); Richie Laryea, Nottingham Forest (England).
Midfielders: Stephen Eustaquio, FC Pacos de Ferreira (Portugal); Liam Fraser, KMSK Deinze (Belgium); Atiba Hutchinson, Besiktas (Turkey); Mark-Anthony Kaye, Colorado Rapids (MLS); Jonathan Osorio, Toronto FC (MLS); Samuel Piette, CF Montreal (MLS).
Forwards: Tajon Buchanan, Club Brugge KV (Belgium); Lucas Cavallini, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Jonathan David, CSO Lille (France); David (Junior) Hoilett, Reading FC (England); Cyle Larin, Besiktas (Turkey); Liam Millar, FC Basel (Switzerland); Ike Ugbo, KRC Genk (Belgium).