Canada names squad for soccer friendlies
National soccer team coach Stephen Hart has included three Toronto FC starters in his 20-man roster for Canada's upcoming pair of international friendlies.
Hart released the roster list Thursday, with defender Nana Attakora, midfielder Julian de Guzman and forward Dwayne De Rosario selected to play for Canada against Peru on Sept. 4 in Toronto and against Honduras three days later in Montreal.
The timing of the international friendlies couldn't come at a worse time for the Major League Soccer club, who is involved in a tight battle to claim a playoff spot.
Toronto FC visits FC Dallas on the same day as the Peru game and is also in action on the road against the Chicago Fire the day after the Honduras match.
The Reds have failed to impress away from home this season — with just one win in nine matches — and the absence of Attakora, de Guzman and De Rosario for these crucial pair of road games could have a detrimental effect on the club's playoff chances.
Hart hinted that he might use the trio sparingly, if at all, for the Honduras game so they will be rested and ready for the team's visit to Chicago.
"We still have some things to work out with the club and, more than likely, we will see how we can help out each other with this," Hart told reporters during a conference call.
Hands-off approach with Cann
Hart took a hands-off approach with defender Adrian Cann, who is having a solid debut season with Toronto FC.
"I didn't want to go in there in the middle of a season where MLS does not [take a break] for international games ... and ask TFC for [another player]," Hart admitted.
The Canadian coach also said several European clubs have asked him to limit their players' time on the field during the two exhibition games.
Hart revealed he had discussions with two players, winger David Hoilett (Jamaica) and forward Teal Bunbury (the United States), who are eligible to play for other countries, about participating in these games.
Hart said Hoilett is "not ready yet to commit to Canada" because he's first "trying to establish himself at [English club] Blackburn."
The same situation is preventing Bunbury, who plays with the Kansas City Wizards in MLS, from formally pledging his international allegiance.
"He explained that he just broke into the team," Hart said. "He'd like to try to establish himself so he can play more consistently and gain more experience."
Straith youngest on squad
At age 19, Energie Cottbus defender Adam Straith, who has two caps to his credit, is the youngest player on the squad. Hart explained it's part of his plan to try to give Canadian youngsters as many opportunities as possible so they can gain more international experience.
A 5-0 exhibition loss to Argentina in Buenos Aires back in May underscored Canada's depth problem.
"It's essential that we create some depth," Hart stated. "If you look at the Argentina game, it was very hard to put a squad together and quite frankly in a lot of positions we simply didn't have the necessary depth.
"Going into the qualifications for [the 2014 World Cup] I want to be sure in my mind, and all of the players are aware of positionally, what is required and what we're trying to do and how they fit into the squad."
Fellow defender Paul Stalteri, 32, is the most experienced player on the roster. Stalteri, who also pays in Germany with Borussia Monchengladbach, has earned 81 appearances for Canada — one shy of the national team record held by Randy Samuel.
Canada is No. 101 in the FIFA world rankings. Peru is 39th, while Honduras is 46th. The Canadian team's only previous meeting against Peru came on March 26, 1988, when it won 3-1 in Lima.
Canada last faced Honduras at the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup, losing 1-0 in the quarter-finals. The Hondurans also defeated Canada twice, including once in Montreal, in the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup.
The Canadian team's next friendly is scheduled for Oct. 18 against Ukraine in Kiev.
CANADA'S ROSTER (pro club in brackets)
- Goalkeeper - Lars Hirschfeld (Valerenga/Norway)
- Goalkeeper - Haidar Al-Shaïbani (Nimes Olympique/France)
- Defender - Nana Attakora (Toronto FC/MLS)
- Defender - Marcel de Jong (FC Augsburg/Germany)
- Defender - Dejan Jakovic (DC United/MLS)
- Defender - Paul Stalteri (Borussia Monchengladbach/Germany)
- Defender - Adam Straith (Energie Cottbus/Germany)
- Midfielder - Julian de Guzman (Toronto FC/MLS)
- Midfielder - Will Johnson (Real Salt Lake/MLS)
- Midfielder - Patrice Bernier (FC Nordsjaelland/Denmark)
- Midfielder - Issey Nakajima-Farran (AC Horsens/Denmark)
- Midfielder - Gianluca Zavarise (Iraklis FC/Greece)
- Midfielder - Jaime Peters (Ipswich Town/England)
- Midfielder - Atiba Hutchinson (PSV Eindhoven/Netherlands)
- Midfielder - Josh Simpson (Turkey/Vestel Manisaspor)
- Forward - Kevin McKenna (FC Koln/Germany)
- Forward - Rob Friend (Hertha BSC/Germany)
- Forward - Simeon Jackson (Norwich City/England)
- Forward - Iain Hume (Barnsley FC/England)
- Forward - Dwayne De Rosario (Toronto FC/MLS)