Raheem Edwards has some good cause to be excited after receiving the call to join the Canadian Men’s National Team for the first 2017 camp and friendly match against Bermuda on Sunday, January 22. Edwards has been one of the shining stars of the Toronto FC II squad, appearing in 20 matches in 2016 with six goals. He made his Toronto FC debut during the 2016 Amway Canadian Championship on June 29th, and also had his MLS debut this past season, appearing as a substitute against Seattle on July 2nd.
Alongside Edwards, seven other players from Toronto FC II have reason for excitement as they have received the call to play for the Canada Soccer Men’s National U-20 Team for the upcoming preparation camp being held in Canada and Panama. The camp is meant to prepare the team for the upcoming CONCACAF Men’s Under-20 Championship in February of 2017. Getting the call are: Midfielders Dante Campbell-an Academy player who was called up in the 2016 season, Aidan Daniels, Liam Fraser, and Luca Uccello; Forward Shaan Hundal; and wingers Richie Ennin and Malik Johnson. The experience should give a boost to the players’ confidence, and will help to prepare them not just for the U-20 qualifying matches to come, but also for the upcoming USL season.
It is good to see Aidan Daniels and Malik Johnson return to the international squad, as they had been both overlooked in the 2016 season after they aged out of the U-17 program. It will be particularly interesting to see how well Johnson is able to handle the U-20 level of international play.
It is also good to see the contribution that Toronto FC II is making to the Canadian soccer scene. Although Toronto FC has been criticized in the past for neglecting Canadian players (see Nigel Reed’s article for CBC)-their farm team is clearly making solid contributions to the development of Canadian players. Out of the Canadian U-20 squad, the seven players coming from Toronto FC II far outweigh any other contributions. Hopefully we will continue to see Canadian players receive opportunities through the Toronto FC academy system-and eventually see them emerge as first team starters.