Canada to face Honduras in World Cup qualifier
'We believe in this group of players'
Veterans Julian de Guzman and Atiba Hutchinson and newcomer Junior Hoilett lead a strong Canadian roster for the first two matches of the penultimate round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
Canada hosts Honduras on Nov. 13 in Vancouver before playing in El Salvador on Nov. 17.
"We believe in this group of players," coach Benito Floro said in a statement Friday. "We want our best roster, so we are always in review of the performances of our players with their professional clubs and make our selection in consideration of the matches we will play."
The Spanish coach has used 55 players in 2015.
The 23-man roster features nine MLS players, including three from the Vancouver Whitecaps (Samuel Adekugbe, Russell Teibert and Kianz Froese) and one from the Montreal Impact (Wandrille Lefevre). Toronto FC is not represented with midfielder Jonathan Osorio again left out of the squad.
Here's the list! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/canMNT?src=hash">#canMNT</a> squad selection unveiled in downtown Vancouver <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/canMNTinYVR?src=hash">#canMNTinYVR</a> <a href="https://t.co/medrIxaoCq">https://t.co/medrIxaoCq</a> <a href="https://t.co/CxZItzmNxC">pic.twitter.com/CxZItzmNxC</a>—@CanadaSoccerEN
There is also no place for national team veterans Simeon Jackson, Marcus Haber or Patrice Bernier. Nik Ledgerwood and Doneil Henry are injured.
Hoilett only recently committed to the Canadian cause, making his debut in a 1-1 friendly with Ghana last month. Glasgow Rangers defender Fraser Aird, who also won his first cap against Ghana, is on the squad.
The opening game, to be played on artificial turf at B.C. Place Stadium, is the first meeting with Honduras since the Central Americans knocked Canada out of contention for the 2014 World Cup with an 8-1 humiliation in San Pedro Sula in November 2012.
That loss cost Stephen Hart his job as Canadian coach.
The current roster includes seven players who took part in the Honduras debacle. Forward Lucas Cavallini has played just once for Canada — against Ghana — since that game.
Under Floro, Canada is 6-7-9. That record includes World Cup qualifying aggregate wins over Belize (4-1) and Dominica (6-0).
Canada is one of 12 countries left in CONCACAF qualifying, with three or possibly four teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean advancing to the 2018 tournament in Russia.
In the penultimate round of qualifying, the 12 teams are divided into three pools. Canada, ranked No. 102 in the world, is in Group A with No. 94 El Salvador, No. 95 Honduras and No. 24 Mexico. The top two teams in each round-robin group will advance to the six-team final round of qualifying in the region.
The top three will book their places at the World Cup while the fourth-placed team will face an Asian squad in a two-game playoff to see who joins them.
Canada plays Mexico home and away in March before visiting Honduras and hosting El Salvador in September.
The Canadian men are 6-10-5 all-time against Honduras but are just 1-5-3 since a 2-1 win 15 years ago in Winnipeg. Canada is 7-4-3 against El Salvador.
Canada has qualified for the World Cup just once — in 1986.