The next set of games in the ‘Octagonal’, the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, are set to get going in less than a week’s time here. Ahead of then, Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team has released their squad for this November window, in which they’ll play 2 crucial home games vs Costa Rica and Mexico in Edmonton. In this, we break down that squad by ‘Surprise Rating’.
It could very well be the window that makes or breaks their World Cup hopes.
Heading into a pair of crucial World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico this upcoming weekend, Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team is ready for the challenge that lies ahead in those games, knowing that those matches could very well be the difference between them punching a ticket to the 2022 World Cup, or being left behind with everyone else.
As the ‘Octagonal’, the final round of CONCACAF’s World Cup qualifiers, nears the halfway point of its 14 game odyssey, this is the start of crunch time for all of those involved, and for Canada, that’s no exception.
Currently sitting 3rd out of 8 teams through 6 games, Canada finds themselves in a pretty good position for the moment, currently holding onto one of the 3 vaunted automatic World Cup qualifications spots that CONCACAF has at its disposal, but as they learned the last camp, that position could easily slip away from them with a bad few games.
With just 6 points separating 2nd and 7th in the Octo right now, 2 bad games could very well be enough to spin the table completely on its head, which is why Canada is well aware of how important these 2 upcoming games are for them.
‘Win your home games and pick up points on the road’ has been the mantra for teams this Octo, so that Canada now has 2 home games makes it imperative that they find a way to get the 6 points up for grabs here, putting them in a great position to hold onto a top 3 spot (or at the very least, a top 4 spot), heading into their last 6 games of the Octo.
Considering that this is the only double match window of the Octo, too (instead of the triple matchdays we’ve now gotten used to), and that Canada is the only team to play at home twice in this set of games, everything has lined up for them to make the most of this window, only adding to that pressure on them to get the job done.
It won’t be easy, as Costa Rica is a feared team in the region, having made the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, while Mexico is, well, Mexico, but at the same time, that shouldn’t scare Canada.
Having already beat Costa Rica once this year back at the Gold Cup, and fresh off of a monumental away draw against Mexico at the feared Estadio Azteca last window, Canada has already shown to be able to hang with both teams on their day, which should boost their confidence ahead of these matchups.
And, only aiding their case, there’s also the fact that these games will be played in frosty Edmonton, which certainly won’t be a location that’ll play into either of their opponent’s hands, especially considering that they both usually play their games in much warmer climates than Edmonton, where the weather is supposed to be below 0 degrees Celcius at kick-off for both games.
So seeing that, there are plenty of reasons for Canada to have the belief that they can make this window a 6-point one, allowing them to give themselves a big push towards Qatar.
The biggest reason of them all, too, is one that we didn’t even mention, yet is one that’s so crucial, and that’s their squad, which has slowly become one of the best in the region, both in terms of its star power and overall depth.
It seems like every time Canada drops a squad, it’s better than the last one they released, their 23-man roster for this window is no exception, sitting filled with all sorts of top-level talent across the board.
Thanks to that, it remains the biggest reason why Canada feels that they’ve got what it takes to get the job done, because this team has just seemed to continue and find a way to step up every time they’ve been asked to, allowing them to even be in this spot in the first place.
So considering all of that, here’s a deeper look at the 23 individuals that will be tasked with helping continue on that quest towards the World Cup for Canada.
To help do that, we’ll do what we always do ahead of these camps, and that’s to break down this squad by ‘Surprise Rating’, giving each player called up a rating between 1 to 10. For those unfamiliar with the rating system, a 1 is a player whose inclusion was so unsurprising that you could’ve bet your house on it, while a 10 is a player who came so out of the blue that you might have to double-check Transfermarkt to make sure that he actually exists.
Along with a quick look at how the player has been doing since his last call-up, it helps give a better idea of who to keep an eye out for on Canada this camp, for a multitude of reasons.
So without any further ado, let’s get right into it.
GK- Milan Borjan | SRB / FK Crvena zvezda (Red Star Belgrade)
And to start, it only feels fitting to begin in goal with the 34-year-old Borjan, who after missing out on the last camp with COVID, returns to the Canadian fold for these crucial games.
That’s key for Canada, as he’s a big part of this team, both in terms of his play on the field and his leadership, which is why Canadian head coach John Herdman will be happy to have him back in the fold once again, giving him another quality option to lean on.
Just a look at his play for Red Star since that COVID diagnosis just shows you why.
In league play, he’s helped them win 4 of their last 5 games, allowing them to crawl within 6 points of rivals Partizan with a game in hand, helping them recover from a tough start to the campaign in the process. Meanwhile, in UEFA Europa League, they sit 2nd in Group F through 4 games, allowing them to dream of making a run in that competition, too.
So overall, he’s healthy, in good form and clearly ready to play a big role this camp, making him one to watch when the games get going in Edmonton this weekend.
GK- Maxime Crépeau | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
But while Borjan is certainly expected to play a good chunk of minutes this camp, if not all of them, it’s no sure thing yet, and that’s thanks to the play of the 27-year-old Crepeau, who has been lights out for club and country this year.
At the club level, he played a massive role in the Whitecaps return to the playoffs for the first time since 2017, helping them go on a run that saw them lose just 3 times in their last 25 games, and the fans recognized his efforts on that run (and in the season as a whole), voting him team MVP in the process.
Plus, he’s also gotten things done for Canada this year, too, stepping up big whenever he’s been called upon.
First, that was at the Gold Cup this summer, where he helped lead Canada to the semi-finals for the first time since 2017, where they only narrowly lost to Mexico in a game where Crepeau saved a penalty and made some other massive stops. Then, we saw it in the October window when Borjan had COVID, too, where he helped Canada pick up 5 crucial points, only allowing 2 goals in 3 games, keeping a clean sheet along the way.
Because of that, Crepeau has shown to be a more than capable option in goal for Canada, especially since he arguably fits their system better than Borjan.
So while Borjan is likely to remain as the #1, which is most certainly a deserving nod for someone who continues to play at a high level for both club and country, it’s good to know that Crepeau is ready in the shadows, able to step in at any moment to help the cause if needed.
GK- James Pantemis | CAN / CF Montréal
Otherwise, rounding off the goalkeeper trio will be the 24-year-old Pantemis, who is coming off of a very solid season for CF Montreal.
They did fall short in their quest to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016, but after looking like a potential Wooden Spoon candidate at the beginning of the year (at least according to pundits), to only miss out by 2 points on the last day isn’t that bad, and Pantemis helped them big time in their surprise playoff push, playing in 18 out of 34 games.
So while he comes into this camp in a bit of a dry run, having found himself on the bench for Montreal’s last 4 games (all competitions) in place of fellow Canadian, Sebastian Breza, who some wondered if he could’ve earned a nod this camp, Pantemis has otherwise been a rock at the back for them all year, making this a pretty deserving call-up.
There’s a reason why Herdman likes to call in Pantemis as a 3rd goalkeeper, so even if he’s very unlikely to play at all this camp, he’ll be good to have around, allowing Canada to have a goalkeeper who regularly plays in MLS as an emergency option, something they would’ve dreamed to have as a backup just 5 years ago, let alone as a 3rd option, showing how far their depth has come at this position this past half-decade.
CB- Derek Cornelius | GRE / Panetolikos FC
Sitting in front of the goalkeepers, though, we then have the centre backs, and leading things off is the 23-year-old Cornelius, who remains in the squad for November, after making his long-awaited return to the Canadian fold back in October.
But much like last month, his inclusion in this squad is a deserving one, as he comes into this camp in solid form for Panetolikos, where he’s played in 10 out of a 10 possible games for the Greek Super League side in all competitions. Things aren’t going great for them at the moment, as they sit 13th out of 14 teams with just 5 points through 9 games, but despite that, it’s been good to see Cornelius get a shot to play regularly after struggling to do so in recent years.
On loan from the Vancouver Whitecaps, where minutes were hard to come by in his 2.5 years at the club, playing in Greece has been a game-changer for Cornelius, who already looked like a whole new player when he saw the field for Canada the last camp, and you can only imagine that improvement will be highlighted once again this window, making him a player to watch if he does get some minutes here.
CB- Doneil Henry | KOR / Suwon Samsung Bluewings
And joining Cornelius at the back is his former club teammate, the 28-year-old Henry, who continues to remain a fixture in this Canadian squad, and for good reason.
At the club level, he’s continued to plug away with the Bluewings over in South Korea, where he’s played 19 out of a possible 35 games so far for the club this year, helping them finish in the top half for the final round despite a nightmare summer, even scoring a goal in the last matchday of that first part of the year to cement their spot in that top half for the final round.
So for Canada, that’s been good to see, as the once-reckless Henry, who was often prone to a big mistake each game, has matured into a much more complete and reliable player lately, becoming a key leader for Canada this year, one that Herdman has come to rely on both on and off the pitch.
He might not see the field much this camp, as his minutes have come more in spot duty than as a starter this year, but if he does play, you know what you’ll get from him, and that’s steady play combined with the occasional big tackle, as he just knows how to stamp out his influence on a match when called upon.
CB- Kamal Miller | CAN / CF Montréal
Otherwise, helping round off a solid group of Canadian centre backs is another key piece, and that’s the 24-year-old Miller, who has arguably one of Canada’s biggest risers this year, thanks to his play for both club and country.
At the club level, he’s become a rock at the back for Montreal after an offseason move from Orlando (via Austin), playing 27 out of a 34 possible MLS games this season, helping them in their surprise playoff push. Obviously, they came up short as mentioned above, but that wasn’t due to Miller’s efforts, as he played every minute in their last 18 games of that push, even scoring his first goal in MLS in the second-last game of their season to keep their playoff dream alive heading into Decision Day.
And that play has translated over to Canada, where he’s been a rock for them all year long, and the October window was no exception to that, as he had 2 massive games against Mexico and Panama.
So expect to see a lot of him this camp, as he’s arguably become Canada’s #1 option at the back this year, helping Canada become a pretty solid defensive team, one that’s a lot better in that area than many will give them credit for.
CB- Steven Vitória | POR / Moreirense FC
And while Miller has been central in those efforts, so too has the 34-year-old Vitoria, who has also had quite the solid year for Canada, even if it might not be talked about as much compared to his teammates.
So while he’s continued to have a mixed year at the club level for Moreirense, where he’s picked up 1 goal and 5 yellow cards while playing 7 out of a possible 11 games for the 15th placed team (out of 18) in the Portuguese top division, the good news is that he always finds a way to come up big for his country when called upon.
That’ll hopefully be no exception again this camp, as Canada seems to play better when they’ve got Vitoria leading the way at the back, making him one to watch over the next week or so here.
FB- Samuel Adekugbe | TUR / Hatayspor FC
Shifting positions, though, we’ve then got Canada’s full backs, and leading things off there is the 26-year-old Adekugbe, who enters this camp as one of the country’s biggest risers this year.
In the midst of a strong season for his new club, Hatayspor, who surprisingly sit 2nd in the Turkish Super Lig thanks to a strong start, Adekugbe has been central in those efforts, starting in 12 out of 12 games, becoming a huge part of their surprise push towards a UEFA Champions League spot.
Along with his strong play for Canada, where he always seems to impress despite limited minutes, it’s made some wonder if he’s in line for a bigger role under Herdman, and based on what we’ve seen from him so far in 2021, there’s no reason why that couldn’t happen, making him one to watch this camp.
FB- Alistair Johnston | USA / Nashville SC
Otherwise, though, we’ve then got another big riser at the full back position, and that’s the 23-year-old Johnston, who enters this camp in pretty good form once again at the club level.
Having helped Nashville SC make the playoffs for the 2nd time in 2 years of existence, playing 26 out of a 34 possible games to make that happen, Johnston was everywhere for Nashville this year, helping them keep the co-best defensive record in MLS along with the Seattle Sounders in the process.
That play has translated over to Canada, too, where he’s become a minute-muncher under Herdman this year, filling in at right back, right wing back and right centre back, which is why he actually leads Canada in minutes this Octo, a mantle he’ll probably keep through this camp.
Because of that, he’s most definitely one to watch right now, because when you realize that he was playing in League1 Ontario just 2 and a half years ago, there might be no Canadian player who has seen their stock rise as he has this year, with this just being the start of what lies ahead for him for both club and country.
FB- Richie Laryea | CAN / Toronto FC
Lastly, rounding off of a solid group of Canadian full backs, we’ve then got the 26-year-old Laryea, who despite a tough season at the club level, remains one of Canada’s key leaders at the back right now.
And even though it was a tough year for Toronto, who finished 2nd-last in all of MLS, it wasn’t all bad for them, as they can still win the Canadian Championship, where they’re currently in the final, and Laryea always seemed to find a way to perform despite his team’s struggles, scoring 3 goals this year.
Plus, for Canada he’s been a rock, going the full 90 minutes in all but 1 game this Octo (he only missed that game due to suspension), showing that while he took a step back at the club level this year, at least compared to 2020, where Toronto was a Supporter’s Shield candidate thanks to his best XI-esque efforts, he still has a big role to play for this Canadian team, which is why Herdman has relied on him so heavily.
So as long as things bounce back at the club level, either with TFC, or with a new club, that’ll be good news for Canada, who are happy to have him in the fold, and will continue to lean on him going forward.
M- Stephen Eustáquio | POR / FC Paços de Ferreira
But shifting our attention slightly higher up the pitch, we’ve then got a good candidate for Canada’s player of the year, and that’s the 24-year-old Eustaquio, who has become a massive part of this Canadian team this year.
Things are a bit mixed for him at the club level, as Pacos de Ferreira has slipped to 11th in the Portuguese league through 11 games, a far cry from the top 5 spot they finished in last year, but that’s no fault of Eustaquio’s, who has played in 10 out of 11 games this season, going the full 90 in 9 of them, continuing to be one of the top midfielders in Portugal.
So for Canada, they’re happy to have him in the fold once again this camp, especially after a slight injury scare, as there’s a reason why he’s started 13 out of a possible 17 games for his country this year, and that’s because he’s indispensable to how they play, something we’ll surely be reminded of once again this camp.
M- Atiba Hutchinson | TUR / Beşiktaş JK
Otherwise, we’ve then got a welcome return to the squad in the 38-year-old Hutchinson, who returns to the Canadian fold after missing out on the October camp with an injury, but the good news is that he’s fully healthy again, and that’s massive for both him and Canada.
He might be in the midst of a tough season for Besiktas, who after doing so well to snap a league title and UEFA Champions League participation drought last season, currently sits 6th in the league after 12 games, and are already eliminated from the Champions League through 4 games, making it a less than ideal start to the year for them.
Due to a tough run of injuries, though, it’s made it hard for them to follow up on their 2020/2021 exploits, and that’s made it an interesting season for Hutchinson, who due to those injuries, has now played centre back, right back and midfield for Besiktas this season.
But for Canada, though, he’ll be expected to play a big role in midfield, as he always does, helping his team get the job done this window. Plus, while it’s a big camp for his team, it’s also a big one for him personally, as he currently sits just 2 caps away from passing Julian De Guzman as top appearance leader, sitting just 1 behind De Guzman’s 89 caps entering this camp.
So barring an injury, expect him to do that this window in front of his home fans, who will certainly be eager to celebrate a player who has given so much to this program, and continues to give at a time where many might be content with retirement or taking a step back, showing why he’s regarded as such a legend in Canadian Soccer circles.
M- Mark-Anthony Kaye | USA / Colorado Rapids
But shifting over to some of the other midfielders, we’ve then got the 26-year-old Kaye, who enters this camp in good form, as he finds himself in the midst of another solid year for club and country.
At the club level, he’s fresh off of helping the Colorado Rapids finish 1st in MLS’s Western Conference, giving them a bye to the 2nd round of the playoffs in the process. Despite only arriving to the team halfway through the season via trade, his addition to their squad has been seamless, as he’s picked up 1 goal and 2 assists in 14 games, playing a big role towards the Rapids late push up the table.
Along with a solid year for Canada, where he continues to remain one of the team’s best transitional midfielders, he just seems to find a way to make an impact whenever he sees the field, and this camp should be no exception of that, showing why he’s such a big part of this team going forward.
M- Jonathan Osorio | CAN / Toronto FC
And speaking of names that are a big part of this Canadian team going forward, we’ve then got the 29-year-old Osorio, who has had a great year for Canada, playing a big role in helping them get to where they’re at today.
Despite a rough year for Toronto FC as a team, Osorio has had one of his best seasons as a professional, scoring 6 goals and adding 2 assists, and that’s translated over to Canada, where he’s become a key contributor offensively.
That was on full display in the last camp, when he scored a crucial equalizing goal in that historic draw vs Mexico at the Azteca, and will hopefully continue into this camp, where Osorio should play a pretty big role in midfield, most likely as a starter.
And even if he does end up coming off of the bench, he’ll be fine with that, too, as he just seems to find a different level of consistency for Canada whenever he dons the red and white, no matter what his role is, showing why he’s become such a key leader for them this year, both on and off the pitch.
M- Samuel Piette | CAN / CF Montréal
And while we’re on the topic of leadership, a player that is very important for Canada in that area is the 26-year-old Piette, who despite his young age, is actually the 2nd-most capped player in this squad behind Hutchinson, something he’ll look to add to this camp.
It might have been a bittersweet year for Montreal, but the good news is that after a slow start for him personally, one where he wasn’t playing as much as usual, he became an indispensable starter again as the year went along, starting 12 of Montreal’s last 14 games.
So while he probably won’t be starting any of the games this camp, it’s good to see him find a nice run of form, as he’ll most definitely feature off of the bench, often finding himself tasked with helping shut down the game as a defensive super-sub of sorts.
Plus, he can always start, if needed, and thanks to some growth in his game these past few years, he has a bit more offence in his game now, too, showing his versatility as a player, which has made him a fixture in this team over the years, with his inclusion in this camp being the latest example of that.
M- David Wotherspoon | SCO / St. Johnstone FC
And rounding off the group of midfielders, we’ve then got another very versatile player in the 31-year-old Wotherspoon, who thanks to that, has carved out a key role in this Canadian team this year.
It’s been a bit of a tougher year for him at the club level than last year, where St. Johnstone finished 5th in the league and won both the Scottish FA Cup and League Cup in a rare cup double, as they currently sit 9th in the league, but the good news is that they remain in both cups this year, and sit just 7 points behind 4th place in the league.
So while Wotherspoon is still in search of his first goal of the year, something that’s surely weighing on his mind after scoring 6 goals last year, his form has otherwise been solid in 10 games for his club, making him a no-brainer inclusion in this squad.
He might not start a game this camp, but he’ll most definitely feature off of the bench at some point, and even if he doesn’t, he always seems to leave an impression in training, making him a key leader on this young team, something that most certainly isn’t lost on Herdman.
F- Tajon Buchanan | USA / New England Revolution
But having gotten through the midfielders, that means we’ve reached the last part of the squad, and that’s the forwards, who are certainly quite the formidable group.
And one of the names that make it so formidable is the 22-year-old Buchanan, who finds himself in the midst of a breakout year for club and country, one that has certainly made his stock rise in such a fashion not seen by anybody on this Canadian team this year.
At the club level, he’s been lights out, scoring 8 goals and adding 6 assists on a New England Revolution team that set the MLS regular season single-year points record with 73 points, helping him secure a winter move to Club Brugge in Belgium, where he’ll head at the end of 2021.
That’s only translated over to his play with Canada, too, where despite only making his debut in June, he’s already got 3 goals and 4 assists in 14 games for his country this year, quickly becoming one of Herdman’s most reliable weapons offensively.
Be it as a wing back, or as a forward, Herdman knows that he’s got a game-breaking talent in Buchanan, one that can break games open, and he’ll look for him to do so once again here, making him one to watch over in Edmonton this weekend.
F- Lucas Cavallini | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
But while Buchanan has seemed to score for fun this year, the same can’t be said for the 28-year-old Cavallini, who enters this camp in some of the worst form of his life, making some doubt his inclusion.
Despite the ‘Caps being in the form of their lives, Cavallini hasn’t really played a part in that, last scoring on July 4th of this year, only really finding himself on the field in a super-sub role these days.
That’s not all his fault, as he’s also dealt with a few injuries, some of which have come at some really unlucky moments, but at the same time, there’s no doubt that he could most certainly use a ‘pick me up’ to get his campaign back on track.
So with Canada finding themselves a bit thin in the striker department at the moment, this could be his chance for him to do so. To be fair to him, he’s always seemed to find a way to deliver for Canada, sitting 6th on the all-time goalscoring charts, and he’s a key leader on this team, so even if he won’t start, he could do some damage off of the bench, allowing him to refind his form.
As the calls questioning his status in this Canadian team continue to grow louder, Cavallini will want to have a good camp to put that behind him, making him one to watch, for a multitude of reasons.
F- Jonathan David | FRA / Lille OSC
But shifting from an out-of-form striker to one that’s in white-hot form, we’ve then got the 21-year-old David, who enters this camp in the form of his life, putting him in the discussion as one of (if not the best) strikers in CONCACAF right now.
Lille might be struggling in their quest to defend their surprise 2020/2021 Ligue 1 title, currently sitting 12th out of 20 teams, but that’s no fault of David’s, who is tied for the Ligue 1 Golden Boot race with 8 goals this year, also adding a 1st-ever goal in the UEFA Champions League, where Lille sit 2nd in Group G through 4 games, along the way.
So for Canada, they’re hoping he translates that form over to his country this camp, allowing him to build off of his impressive 17 goals in 22 games for Les Rouges, helping climb up Canada’s all-time goalscoring charts, where he already sits 5th despite his young age.
In the midst of a quiet run for Canada by his standards, having scored just 2 goals in his last 8 games, he’ll want to get back into the scoring column in a big way this camp, and based on his form for Lille right now, you wouldn’t put it past him to do so this camp, making him one to watch.
F- Alphonso Davies | GER / FC Bayern München
And going from the arguable best striker in CONCACAF right now, you’ve then got the player who is without a doubt the best player in CONCACAF at the moment, and that’s the 21-year-old Davies, who remains in excellent form for Bayern Munich this season.
Despite dealing with some injuries, he’s been a rock at left back for Bayern, helping them sit 1st in the Bundesliga once again, all while sitting atop of Group E in the UEFA Champions League, where they’re already assured of qualification of the knockout stages.
Other than a surprise elimination from the DFB Pokal via a 5-0 drubbing from Borussia Monchengladbach, it’s been business as usual for Bayern, and Davies has played a big role in that, putting up 5 assists in 15 games (all competitions) putting him on pace to smash his personal record of 9 assists in a season for Bayern.
Doing that all from left back, where metrics have him as one of the best offensive players in Europe, let alone defenders, he’s been unstoppable at times this year, and that’s exciting for Canada, who will most definitely depend on him to come up huge for them once again this camp.
Having done so last camp, where he truly grabbed them and put them on their back at times, with there being no better example being than on *THAT* goal against Panama, he’s shown to have that ability if needed, and he’ll look to do so once again here, adding to his impressive 10 goals and 16 assists in 28 games for Canada.
In his first game back in his hometown of Edmonton with Canada, he’ll have extra motivation to do so, as well, so because of that, everything’s lining up for Davies to have another camp to remember here, one where he’ll look to add to his impressive resume that he’s created despite having only just turned 21 last week.
F- Cyle Larin | TUR / Beşiktaş JK
And as we near the end of the list here, there’s yet another player who enters this camp in great form, and that’s the 26-year-old Larin, who has been scoring for fun this year for club and country, which has been exciting to follow as he gets set to make his return to the Canadian fold after missing the October window with an injury.
So while Besiktas finds themselves in that bit of a dry run we mentioned earlier, Larin’s done his best to keep things flowing on his end, scoring 5 goals and adding 1 assist in 12 games, leading his team in league goals (4), while also adding his first UEFA Champions League goal along the way.
Heading into this camp, that’s exciting for Canada, as Larin leads the team in goals with an impressive 12 in 11 games this year, including a solid 9 in CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, which not only leads Canada, but leads the region as a whole.
Thanks to that, he now sits just 2 goals off of tying Dwayne De Rosario as all-time Candian goalscorer with 22 goals, and based on his form this year, you wouldn’t put it past him being able to do that this camp, making him one to watch here.
F- Liam Millar | SUI / FC Basel
Otherwise, speaking of players in good form, another name to add to that list for Canada is the 22-year-old Millar, who after a quiet start to the 2021/2022 season, has been on fire as of late, putting him back on the Canadian radar.
In the midst of a strong run for FC Basel, one where he’s scored 5 goals and added 4 assists, most of those coming since September, he’s played a big role in their push up the Swiss League table, where they currently sit 1st, as well as in UEFA Conference League, where they sit 2nd in Group H through 4 games.
And thanks to that, it allowed him to return to the Candian fold after a short absence in October, a spot he retains for this camp, all thanks to his strong play offensively for his new club.
He might not start in these games, but if he does see the field, don’t be surprised if he makes things happen, as he’s been a key super-sub for Canada since bursting onto the scene for them in 2018, and he’ll look to keep that up once again this camp.
F- Iké Ugbo | BEL / KRC Genk
Lastly, most definitely not least, we’ve got the biggest surprise this camp, and that’s the 23-year-old Ugbo, who is set to make his Canadian debut this window after committing to the country last week.
That’s huge for Canada, as he’s a very talented player, currently playing regularly for Belgian giants, Genk, who currently sit 6th in the Belgian league, and 3rd in their Europa League group through 4 games, putting them in contention for both competitions.
And with 4 goals in 14 games (in just 360 minutes), Ugbo has played his part in all of that, as he slowly integrates into his new club, one he only joined this summer, fresh off of a massive season for fellow Belgian side Cercle Brugge.
For a Canadian team that isn’t all that deep at the striker position, his commitment is massive, as he both shores up a position of need, all while adding yet another talented player to their deep roster, which is why the news of his arrival was met with such fanfare for Canada.
So while he won’t play the biggest role in this camp quite yet as he gets his feet under him for Canada, it’ll be huge just to have him in the fold, and Herdman seems aware of that, making him one to watch when the debut comes, be it in this camp or later this Octo.
So overall, there’s a lot to like with this Canadian squad, from top to bottom, and a look at what we explored here shows why.
Because of that, it shows why confidence is high among Canadians, who believe that this team has what it takes to return to their first World Cup since 1986, of which they seem to inch closer towards doing every day.
Pushed on by the deepest squad they might have ever had at their disposal, they’ve got the firepower to make that happen, so now all that’s left is for them to actually do it, something they can take a big step towards doing this window.
As their journey towards the 2022 World Cup continues, they’re now about to reach a key frontier, one that they must find a way to conquer, and based on the roster that they’ve called in, they most definitely have the pieces to make that happen.
Up Next: Canada vs Costa Rica, Friday, November 12th, 2021, 18:05 PDT, 21:05 EDT (Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton)