The CanMNT revealed their starting roster – Analysis

CanMNT striker Lucas Cavalini in Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
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EDITORIAL – The CanMNT revealed their starting roster for the January-February window of World Cup qualifying. However, except for FC Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies, all the other players Canada needs are on the list.

CanMNT revealed starting roster – Analysis

The CanMNT roster looks pretty good. The 25-man roster has most of the players from the previous Concacaf World Cup windows. They have Jonathan David and Cyle Larin for example. These are the two players who scored the three goals in the November World Cup qualifying window.

The focus though is on Stephen Eustaquio and Junior Hoilett. There were rumours that one or both of these players would not play in the CanMNT World Cup qualifying window. TSN reported that Eustaquio reported positive for COVID-19. This is while Reading FC’s Junior Hoilett got injured in January according to Reading FC.

Eustáquio might be the best midfielder for the CanMNT. He can generate offence for the CanMNT but can also help on defence. He was probably Canada’s best player in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.  This included getting an assist and a goal against Costa Rica in the Concacaf Gold Cup quarterfinals. Eustáquio should be given credit for the fantastic assist, however, Hoilett should also be credited with the technique and power used to score the first goal of that Costa Rica game. Hoilett will be needed as he and Liam Millar will most likely back up David.

The problem is how many games will these players play? Just because they are on the roster does not necessarily mean they are going to play any of the three games in the January-February window. This might be the case even though Canada may prefer these two players on the roster. According to Abby Neufeld of CTV News, Canadians only need to isolate for five days after testing positive for COVID-19. However, this also means that Eustaquio needs to eventually test negative for COVID-19.

Players missing from the November window including Alphonso Davies

Left-back FC Bayern Munich player Alphonso Davies was the most notable omission from the CanMNT roster. Davies will be out because of myocarditis.

It is impossible to replace Davies, not just for Canada, but also for any Concacaf nation. He is probably the best player in Concacaf. After all, he was the only player residing from Concacaf to ever make the Best FIFA XI in 2020. There are some good replacements though for Canada. Hatayspor player Samuel Adekugbe is the player that comes to mind. He will probably start as left-back for the CanMNT.

In the other two positions, Davies plays as a winger and as a forward. Both positions though Canada has some really good players. On left-winger positions, there is Larin, Miller, and Hoilett. Then on the right-wing, the CanMNT has Tajon Buchanan (who went to Europe from MLS this year) as a right-winger. Then in the forward positions, Canada has three centre-forwards. David, who might be the second-best player in Concacaf, will be the first choice as a forward. This might be a chance for K.R.C. Genk forward Iké Ugbo to make a name for himself who just recently came into the CanMNT team late last year.

Lastly, CF Montreal goalkeeper, James Pantemis, who featured in every previous final round of CanMNT World Cup qualifying roster, was not in the January-February roster. He will be replaced by another goalkeeper on the CanMNT roster.

New players coming to the CanMNT

Cristián Gutiérrez, left-back for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, will be the new player to watch for the CanMNT. He will most likely get his first cap for the CanMNT in the January-February window. Yes, Adekugbe will most likely be the preferred option. However, it is unlikely that he will start all three games in the January-February window.

This is what Whitecaps’ sporting director Axel Schuster said about Gutiérrez according to Dylan Butler of MLS Soccer before joining Vancouver:

“He has the four cornerstones we look for in a player, he is fully aware of the challenge in front of him, and he is excited to continue his development in his native country.”

The player had a choice to play for either Chile or Canada. Gutiérrez played for the Chile U20 team from 2016-17 making seven appearances during that time period. He has also made 31 appearances with his current team, Vancouver, since 2020.

Lastly, CF Montreal goalkeeper James Pantemis has been replaced by Oldham Athletic goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler. While he is not a new member of the CanMNT team, Leutwiler has not been in one of Canada’s final World Cup qualifying cycle rosters. Even though Leutwiler, has been a part of the CanMNT since 2016, he only made three appearances. Leutwiler has played 21 games for Oldham since 2021. Unfortunately, unlike Gutiérrez, do not expect Leutwiler to get some playing time. Milan Borjan and Maxime Crepeau will be ahead of him in the goalkeeping position.

CanMNT roster overview – analysis

The CanMNT will get their first real taste of Central America against Honduras and El Salvador in this World Cup qualifying window. Yes, they played Jamaica to a scoreless draw in October. However, the stadium had hardly any fans because of COVID-19.

Former CanMNT player Julian De Guzman said this about playing in Central America according to TSN:

“I played inside the Bernabéu against Real Madrid and inside the Camp Bou against Barcelona, and both are difficult environments. But when you play in Central America, you got to find out how to survive.”

The CanMNT will play their first game against Honduras at 8:05 p.m. ET. This will be at Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula, Honduras on January 27. The CanMNT will then play at home against the USMNT at Tim Hortons Field at 3:05 p.m. ET.

The game will take place in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on January 30. Canada’s last game in the January-February window is on February 2 at 9:00 p.m. ET against El Salvador. The game will take place at Estadio Cuscatlán in San Salvador, El Salvador. All games will be televised on Sportsnet and shown on OneSoccer and Telus.

Photo Credit: Canada Soccer on January 24, 2022.