The Canadian men’s national team’s final games of 2023 are just around the corner and they’re pretty vital ones: the two-legged CONCACAF Nations League quarter-final and 2024 Copa América qualifier against Jamaica.
On Wednesday, interim head coach Mauro Biello named his squad to play those games, just the second roster he has selected since taking charge after John Herdman’s departure from Toronto FC.
The headline points of interest are that Tajon Buchanan returns after being injured for the last camp in October. Lucas Cavallini and former Toronto FC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye are also back in the squad as Biello leans on experience and familiarity. It is Kaye’s first time in the CanMNT roster since March’s 2022-23 Nations League window. All in all, the roster includes 20 members of Canada’s World Cup squad from last November.
Related read: Mauro Biello calls on Canada’s ‘brotherhood’ to get CanMNT past Jamaica and into 2024 Copa América
Just like Buchanan’s return, Stephen Eustáquio being back in the team in central midfield will be huge. Since missing out on the Japan game through injury, the midfielder has been in superb form for FC Porto in both the Portuguese league and the UEFA Champions League group stage.
Moïse Bombito, Charles-Andreas Brym, Mathieu Choinière, and Harry Paton all drop out after being named in the squad for the Japan friendly in October. The latter two of that quartet were both given their national team debuts by Biello in the 4-1 humbling in Niigata a month ago.
“We know that these upcoming two matches will be difficult against a solid opponent, in difficult conditions, so that is why we decided on an experienced and seasoned group of players who are used to high-pressure games,” said Biello.
The selection is perhaps understandable given the high-stakes nature of the games, but critics may argue it shows something of a lack of imagination or forward planning by the interim boss.
While other former TFC star Richie Laryea is also there, the only current Reds player named is midfield mainstay Jonathan Osorio.
A bright spot is seeing Vancouver Whitecaps young player of the year Ali Ahmed back in the group after his good form and impressive season for VWFC. The Whitecaps have four players in the squad, with Ahmed, Laryea, Sam Adekugbe, and Junior Hoilett. No other club has more than one representative.
Meanwhile, there is another chance to cap-tie talented 18-year-old Fulham centre-back Luc de Fougerolles, who impressed in his first-team breakthrough for the Premier League club last week.
De Fougerolles received his first Canada call-up in October and has since made his senior debut for Fulham in an EFL Cup tie against Ipswich Town.
Canada travel to Kingston, Jamaica to play the first leg of the tie next Friday, November 17, before returning home to BMO Field for the second leg on Tuesday, November, 21. Both games will be aired live on OneSoccer. The quarter-final winners qualify for the 2024 Copa América as one of six guest CONCACAF teams, while the losers will play in a single-elimination play-off in March to decide the two final CONCACAF entries.
Full Canada squad to face Jamaica:
GK – Milan Borjan | SVK / ŠK Slovan Bratislava
GK – Maxime Crépeau | USA / Los Angeles FC
GK – Dayne St. Clair | USA / Minnesota United FC
CB – Derek Cornelius | SWE / Malmö FF
CB – Steven Vitória | POR / GD Chaves
CB/FB – Luc de Fougerolles | ENG / Fulham FC
CB/FB – Alistair Johnston | SCO / Celtic FC
CB/FB – Kamal Miller | USA / Inter Miami FC
FB – Samuel Adekugbe | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
FB – Alphonso Davies | GER / FC Bayern Munich
FB – Richie Laryea | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
M – Ali Ahmed | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
M – Stephen Eustáquio | POR / FC Porto
M – Mark-Anthony Kaye | USA / New England Revolution
M – Ismaël Koné | ENG / Watford FC
M – Jonathan Osorio | CAN / Toronto FC
M – Samuel Piette | CAN / CF Montréal
M/F – Junior Hoilett | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
F – Tajon Buchanan | BEL / Club Brugge KV
F – Lucas Cavallini | MEX / Club Tijuana
F – Jonathan David | FRA / Lille OSC
F – Cyle Larin | ESP / RCD Mallorca
F – Liam Millar | ENG / Preston North End FC