Today, the Canadian Soccer Association released the 23-man roster for the 2015 edition of the Gold Cup, and it looks exciting all while throwing up a few questions marks.
The Gold Cup is our region’s championship, much like the Copa America in South America or the Euro for Europe. The competition has yet to reach the heights of those tournaments in terms of name recognition and prestige, but it is climbing. We may explore those topics in another post, but today we’re talking about Canada’s roster.
Here it is:
The first thing that pops out is the absence of Milan Borjan, who has secured the #1 keeper spot on this team. Could there be a rift between him and head coach Benito Floro following his red card in the first Dominica match? Nah. Most likely, Borjan asked out so he can join his new team Ludogorets Razgrad in Bulgaria, who have an early Champions League tie against Milsami at the same time as the Gold Cup. It’s frustrating for the CMNT fans to have to sacrifice your best keeper so he can hope to get playing time in Europe, but these are the types of compromises we’ve learned to, if not accept, grudgingly acknowledge.
The next omission is a little more troubling. Will Johnson is one of the best midfielders currently playing in MLS. He’s over his injury, was present but did not play in the Dominica matches, and has no personal reasons of which we’re aware (he missed some matches last fall due to becoming a parent). So where’s Will? His choice? Floro’s? We need answers on this one. He’s the type of player with enough leverage against his team that he should not be able to be pressured into missing an important competition for Canada. Our patience runs thin, and could be at an end with him unless good reasons surface.
Junior Hoilett could be bothered to show up at BMO field to play in Dwayne De Rosario’s testimonial, but cannot be compelled to play for Canada. May he rot in England’s 2nd division.
Also missing from the roster is Atiba Hutchinson, who is nursing a leg injury aggravated in training on the Dominica trip. We wish him a quick recovery and a successful beginning to Beşiktaş’ Europa League campaign. See you in September, Atiba.
Who’s on the team, then? Despite the absences, Canadians can look forward to cheering on the blooming partnership between Cyle Larin and Tesho Akindele. Here are two young, dynamic players who already seem to have an understanding that leads to goals. It will be exciting to see them take on El Salvador (July 8th), Jamaica (July 11th) and Costa Rica (July 14th at BMO Field).
Sporting KC’s Marcel de Jong is on the roster after missing the Dominica series. As mentioned in a previous post, there is a log jam at left back that might see de Jong used in a left midfield role, with TFC’s Ashtone Morgan and Karl Ouimette both having a strong showing in the position against Dominica.
One of the most promising aspects of the roster is the amount of players from North American clubs represented. Eleven of the 23 players ply their trade in MLS or the NASL, and most of them play an important role for their clubs. Clubs like the Ottawa Fury, FC Dallas and Orlando City SC will be hoping for a quick exit for Canada. Delving deeper into those numbers, you come to realize that the academies for the Canadian MLS clubs are really beginning to bear fruit for the national team, with six players coming through the Whitecaps, TFC and Impact systems. The future is bright.
We have the names, we have the schedule; now we need the matches. Can Canada compete with its best player missing? We’ll have a Gold Cup preview post just before the tournament kicks off July 7th, and if any other significant CMNT news breaks before then, you can count on Northern Starting XI to cover it.
Photo courtesy of Joshua Pearson on Flickr.