It’s been a great 24 hours for former Toronto FC talent Jacen Russell-Rowe.
The day after his Columbus Crew booked their spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference semi-finals by beating Atlanta United, Russell-Rowe is on his way to link up with the Canadian men’s national team.
Canada Soccer announced on Monday that the 21-year-old forward has been called into Mauro Biello’s squad as a late replacement for Lucas Cavallini, who is staying in Mexico to rehab an injury issue.
Russell-Rowe made his senior debut for CanMNT this summer at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, playing in three of Canada’s four games as a substitute.
It marks the latest step in a breakout year for the young star, who spent three years in the TFC academy system before moving to Columbus in 2022. Russell-Rowe has played 27 times for the Crew in all competitions in 2023, contributing four goals and two assists. The most recent of those goals came against Toronto FC in a 2-0 Crew win in late August, because of course it did.
Although he’s had the best season of his young career to date, he doesn’t exactly come into Canada camp on fire, as he’s barely played any soccer in recent weeks.
His cameo of one minute plus stoppage time in the second of Columbus’ three playoff games against Atlanta this month and his 20 minutes as a substitute against CF Montréal on the final day of the regular season are the only times he has seen the pitch in a competitive game since August 30. He was an unused substitute for seven games in a row before his Decision Day appearance.
Still, it’s been the first full-fledged year of his senior career, and his latest call-up for Canada, albeit as a late replacement, is the latest step in his progress since leaving Toronto.
Canada face Jamaica in the first leg of their CONCACAF Nations League quarter-final and 2024 Copa América qualifier in Kingston, Jamaica on Friday night before the second leg at BMO Field next Tuesday.