CanMNT roster projection: Who's making the final WCQ squad?
This is it.
Canada has reached the final hurdle in its quest for Qatar, and it's a friendly, forgiving one to jump. The hard work has been done: now the Canadians require one more result from their final three matches to qualify for the World Cup.
But if we know anything about John Herdman and this group, it's that they won't be taking these games lightly. There is an unbeaten record to protect and places on the plane next winter to contend for.
Here's my projection of what the roster to take on Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Panama could look like. We're expecting to see the real thing by the end of the week ahead of the opening match in San Jose on March 24.
As in January, I'm rolling with a 25-man squad.
Milan Borjan, Maxime Crepeau, Dayne St. Clair
Will St. Clair’s sensational first start of the season be enough to restore him to the squad? With Jayson Leutwiler benched in England, the alternatives would appear to be Sebastian Breza and Thomas Hasal.
Here’s something interesting on St. Clair: he has now faced four penalties for Minnesota United and not conceded a single one, saving three. Since Opta’s records began in 2009, no other MLS goalkeeper has faced more than one penalty without being beaten.
I wonder if Herdman might be intrigued by the idea of having a shootout expert on the bench at tournaments.
Sam Adekugbe, Mathieu Choiniere, Derek Cornelius, Raheem Edwards, Doneil Henry, Alistair Johnston, Scott Kennedy, Richie Laryea, Kamal Miller, Steven Vitoria
How much is Herdman willing to lean on Laryea while he is not playing first-team football for Nottingham Forest? In January, the answer was still ‘a lot’ — he started two games and came off the bench in the other — and I don’t see why that would change now.
Otherwise, I’ve made two switches based on club form: Zachary Brault-Guillard and Cristian Gutierrez out, Choiniere and Edwards in. It should be noted that Choiniere has been nursing an injury which could rule him out, in which case ZBG steps back in.
Edwards has had an excellent start to the season at left-back for the LA Galaxy. With Laryea and Adekugbe able to handle the bulk of the minutes, I like the idea of having Edwards’ dynamism available off the bench.
Stephen Eustaquio, Liam Fraser, Atiba Hutchinson, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Jonathan Osorio
My OneSoccer Today pal Gareth Wheeler thinks another central midfielder will need to be brought in to replace the injured Samuel Piette. He named Harry Paton and Montreal’s rising star Ismael Kone as possibilities:
With Atiba, Piette, and potentially Oso dealing with injuries, could we see #CFMTL midfielder Ismael Kone called up to the #CanMNT in March?@GarethWheeler with more 🗣️— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) March 11, 2022
WATCH 🔴 https://t.co/E1oxMpLm1d pic.twitter.com/XTjpzTrVOX
If Kone’s eligibility is sorted and he’s ready to commit, do it. He looks a big talent.
But if not, I’m more inclined to think you can get by without an extra body because Eustaquio can eat so many minutes. That’s something that’s easily overlooked: while we’re losing Piette, we’re effectively gaining Eustaquio, who was only available for the final match of the last window.
There was a brief fitness scare around Atiba Hutchinson over the weekend, but he started Besiktas’ match against Galatasaray on Monday and looks to be good to go.
Tajon Buchanan, Lucas Cavallini, Jonathan David, Junior Hoilett, Cyle Larin, Liam Millar, Ike Ugbo
No Alphonso Davies for now. In past windows, Canada Soccer has tended to make an announcement when Davies has been ruled out — they haven't done that yet, which leads me to believe they’re holding out hope until the last possible moment. But all available evidence points to these matches coming too soon, particularly with a Champions League quarter-final on the horizon.
Iké Ugbo is finding his form 🔥— Alexandre Gangué-Ruzic (@AlexGangueRuzic) March 12, 2022
The FW is enjoying life in Ligue 1, as he’s scored his 2nd goal in 5 games since joining Troyes on loan today vs Nantes. They currently lead 1-0
Here’s the goal. Great #9 instincts and finish
Big #CanMNT mins soon?pic.twitter.com/8Z3igcY4lI
That means I’m rolling with an unchanged group. Larin has just returned from a minor injury; if his minutes need to be managed that could open up more opportunities for Ugbo, who has bagged a couple of goals in Ligue 1 since joining Troyes on loan.