Canadian soccer coach Colin Miller selects Gold Cup camp roster
Youth favoured over veterans
Colin Miller said yes to Samuel Piette and Keven Aleman and no to Dwayne De Rosario and Patrice Bernier.
Canada's men's soccer coach for the upcoming Gold Cup tournament selected his camp roster with an eye on the future, meaning a couple of national team mainstays won't make the trip.
"I think now is a fantastic opportunity to build on the experience these young players have had," Miller said on a conference call Tuesday to his announce his roster. "We've got to continue to give these guys a chance and the opportunity to play at this level of football. The more we can do that, the better our national team program is going to be."
Aleman, who's 19, and Piette, 18, are two of eight players on the roster for the camp in Oxnard, Calif., who have yet to play in a senior tournament. The others are Kyle Bekker, Doneil Henry, Jonathan Osorio, Pedro Pacheco, Russell Teibert, and Simon Thomas.
The next major tasks for Canada's senior men's side will be qualifying for the 2016 Olympics and 2018 World Cup, so the time is ideal to develop young players. That meant a couple of veterans became Gold Cup casualties.
Miller said he spoke at length to the 35-year-old De Rosario, who was keen to attend the California camp and play in the confederation's biennial championship tournament, which opens July 7.
"I told him we were looking at a younger group, looking at moving the national program forward, and it was just a case of numbers with Dwayne," Miller said. "I saw that certainly in the future, Dwayne is going to be at a good age when the next World Cup qualifying comes around. He was disappointed as you would imagine, but it was something that I felt in this particular group, it was a perfect opportunity for us to get some talented young players that are desperate for an opportunity, desperate to wear the Canadian jersey.
"Obviously he was disappointed but very supportive and wished us well."
Miller also said no to the 33-year-old Bernier, who is playing well for the Montreal Impact. Miller called it "an age thing."
"We've got to look more at the future, longterm," Miller said. "And it's an opportunity. I'm very happy with the players that we have in midfield, and I've worked with Patrice before, I'm delighted to see him doing so well with Montreal. But at this moment in time when we're thinking three or four years down the road here, is Patrice going to be one of our starting midfield players for the national team in World Cup qualifying? I would doubt that.
"That's really all it is, a case of numbers and his age at this moment in time."
Aleman and Piette were both members of the Canadian squad at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico when the last CONCACAF Gold Cup took place in 2011, and watched the Gold Cup matches on TV from the U-17 team's camp ahead of the tournament.
Several other veterans including Atiba Hutchinson and Andre Hainault are missing, but it's because they're currently without professional contracts.
"Not having Atiba is a big loss to the team," Miller said. "It's not an easy time for the European-based players, especially if you're out of contract right now."
"There are guys who have chosen to stay and try to solidify their future in Europe, and there are guys who may see this Gold Cup as an opportunity to put themselves in the shop window. It was really the player's decision. I can sympathize with the guys who are out of contract."
Julian de Guzman, tournament MVP at the 2007 Gold Cup, is the squad's most experienced player with 64 caps, and Miller sees him as a player who can mentor the younger ones.
Simeon Jackson is the team's leading scorer with six international goals.
Miller named just 22 to the camp roster, and will announce a tournament roster of up to 23 players on Friday. He wouldn't divulge the one missing player saying he has a "couple of irons in the fire."
Camp opens Wednesday in Oxnard.
Canada is in Group A at the tournament with Martinique, Mexico and Panama. They'll open on July 7 versus Martinique in Los Angeles. They'll then travel north to Seattle to battle Mexico on July 11, then close out the group stage with a game against Panama in Denver on July 14.
The top two teams from each group will advance to the quarter-finals. The final is July 28 in Chicago.