STOCK UP, STOCK DOWN: Whose value is rising & falling ahead of CanMNT march camp?
After over three months apart, the Canadian Men’s National Team is almost back together.
They're set to reunite next week for the first time since the 2022 World Cup, as they begin preparations for a crucial March window, one filled with some tough must-win Nations League clashes.
As they continue their hunt to win their first trophy since 2000, as well as officially begin their journey towards the 2026 World Cup, which they'll be co-hosting, it's a big camp for Canada, who are also kicking off their long journey toward that tournament, in a sense.
Therefore, it'll be intriguing to see who can crack the squad for this window, as it will set the tone for what's to come over the next 3.5 years.
So speaking of the squad for this window, here's a look at who's trending upwards and downwards before that announcement, giving an idea of who you should be keeping an eye on as this camp rapidly approaches here.
Cyle Larin - Real Valladolid
Sometimes in soccer, things can move quickly.
Just look at Cyle Larin's rollercoaster of a 22/23 season.
Heading into the World Cup, Larin's stock was about as low as it could get. After having made a transfer to Club Brugge in the summer, Larin had struggled to see the field for his new club, playing less than 400 minutes by the time the World Cup rolled around, scoring just one goal.
After a couple of productive seasons at Beşiktaş, including a career year in 20/21, where he had 23 goals and 6 assists in all competitions, many were expecting to light the world on fire with Brugge, yet, that wouldn't end up being the case, to the surprise of many.
As a result, it left him rusty and slightly unfit by the time the World Cup came around, and that affected his play. After being automatic for Canada during World Cup qualifiers, he didn't look the same during the World Cup, and that had an impact on Canada's attack.
But then, post-World Cup, a new opportunity came up for Larin, as La Liga side Real Valladolid eventually swooped in for his services, giving him a fresh start away from Brugge. A chance to make his first steps in a top-five league, while also joining a low-scoring team that clearly required his services, it was a huge opportunity for Larin to find his feet again.
And almost two months on since that move, it's proven to be exactly what the doctor ordered for Larin. In just seven games with his new club, he's already scored four goals, putting him one off his team's lead for the season, while also lifting his club out of the relegation battle.
Not only that, but he's become a fan-favourite off the field, with 'Larinismo' running high amongst Valladolid supporters, who have quickly taken to the soft-spoken Canadian with a ruthless eye for goal.
Because of that, he returns to the CanMNT ready to score some goals, eager to return to his World Cup qualifying ways. The CanMNT's all-time leading goalscorer for a reason, he'll likely feature strongly in this window, which will be huge for him, as many were wondering if the World Cup showed that a super-sub role might be in his future.
Now, however, that definitely won't be the case, as Larin's form has earned him a shout to start again, an opportunity he’ll look to take with both hands.
Alistair Johnston - Celtic FC
It’s hard to imagine someone who played all 270 minutes for Canada at the World Cup could have his stock rise, but it’s been that kind of 2023 for Alistair Johnston, whose ascension has remained on a pretty straight upwards path since the start of 2020.
That’s been no exception as of late, as after a big transfer from CF Montréal to Scottish giants, Celtic, Johnston has wasted no time in becoming not just a regular for his new club, but a fan favourite, too.
Tasked with big shoes to fill as he replaced the outgoing Josip Juranović, who joined Union Berlin, he has done that, and then some, becoming a force at right back for Celtic.
Right from day one, where he started and went 90 minutes in an Old Firm Derby against Rangers just a day after he was officially registered as a Celtic player, to the 1000 minutes he’s already played for his club since, he’s been everything Celtic expected from him, and more.
Thanks to his trademark defensive play, to which he’s continued to add a rapidly-maturing offensive game, combined with his passion and leadership, he’s been a dream player for Celtic fans to cheer on, both on and off the field.
And that’s key for Canada. Already a huge part of the team since 2021, this move should help Johnston push from a regular contributor to becoming a big part of the leadership group, as well as a no-doubt starter for this team.
Plus, it just feels like this is somehow just the start for Johnston, which is exciting to imagine, especially for Canada, where it feels like he’s just scratching the surface in terms of what he can bring to the table for John Herdman’s side.
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Otherwise, it’s a good time to buy stocks at the top of Canada’s lineup, as Alphonso Davies has looked like a man possessed since João Cancelo has come in, while Jonathan David is having the season of a lifetime for Lille, currently tied for first in the Ligue 1 Golden Boot race.
Elsewhere, Stephen Eustáquio stocks have continued to quietly rise, as he’s done well to pick up where he left off before the World Cup despite a few injuries. Also, stocks have also held relatively even for the likes of Steven Vitória, Milan Borjan and Lucas Cavallini, who have all done well for their clubs post-World Cup.
Otherwise, Ismaël Koné could be an intriguing investment, as he had a strong start to life with new club Watford, even if he’s slowed down a touch. With a new coach, he could quickly take off again, making him a wise shout. The same goes for Derek Cornelius, whose transfer to Malmö FF has gotten off to a great start, as well as Sam Adekugbe with Galatasaray.
Lastly, keep an eye on some MLS-based names, as the likes of Mo Farsi, Jacob Shaffelburg, Kyle Hiebert, Ryan Raposo, Sean Rea and Jonathan Sirois have all looked good to start their MLS seasons, which could get them onto the CanMNT radar.
Mark-Anthony Kaye - Toronto FC
After a dream trade back to his hometown club, the reunion hasn’t gone as planned for Mark-Anthony Kaye with Toronto FC, as Kaye hasn’t been able to find the levels of play that he showed back with LAFC and the Colorado Rapids.
Despite being the final piece in what many expected to be a dominant midfield trio of Kaye, Jonathan Osorio and Michael Bradley, Kaye hasn’t been able to find his feet as many hoped, leading to several struggles in the middle of the park for TFC.
Mark-Anthony Kaye opens his 2023 MLS account 🎯— Alexandre Gangué-Ruzic (@AlexGangueRuzic) February 26, 2023
It's the return of the MAK for #TFCLive, who scored his 1st goal for his new(old) club today, slotting home a rebound from in close
Good to see from MAK. He needed that one#CanMNT pic.twitter.com/rVy9fmjIQQ
In particular, his passing game has slipped off, as while he’s had some decent defensive performances, his best attribute has always been his ball progression, yet he hasn’t been able to showcase that part of his game as much since he joined TFC last summer.
As a result, that has slowly affected his CanMNT stock, as he’s gone from a regular rotation player to a bench option over the past few months, leaving him to feature less and less as the camps have gone along.
For a Canadian team that isn’t exactly loaded with midfield depth, that’s been a worry, as it’s put a lot of strain on the likes of Eustáquio and Koné to really carry the load going forward, unless Kaye refunds the form that made him one of the best in MLS a few years ago.
Therefore, it’ll be interesting to see how Kaye responds to all of this. He’s had a lot on his plate, between having to move cross country with the trade, and by also playing a big role off the field in Canada’s player union, which hasn’t helped, but there’s no doubt that he has another gear to hit on the field.
Because if not, it’ll be tough to envision what his role could be in the 2026 cycle, especially as some younger faces emerge, making for some tough discussions in terms of what to do in midfield going forward.
Scott Kennedy - Jahn Regensburg
It’s been a nightmare season for Scott Kennedy.
After starting the year strongly for Jahn Regensburg, his third season with the club, Kennedy then had the misfortune of picking up an injury just weeks before the start of the World Cup, ruling him out of that tournament.
And since then, it’s been a rough ride for him, as he then marked his return from injury with a red card in his first game back, one that saw him suspended for two games, leaving him to have only played 22 minutes since the start of November. Oh, and for good measure, he also suffered a broken cheekbone somewhere in there, too.
Because of that, it has left Kennedy’s stocks to dip pretty low at the moment.
Considering he’s battling for minutes with Kamal Miller, one of Canada’s best performers at the World Cup, as well as Derek Cornelius, who has been putting in a good shout for more minutes with Canada, that makes it hard to imagine he’ll even be included in this camp for Canada.
As a result, it’ll be intriguing to see how he finishes this season. With Regensburg very much in a relegation battle, helping them avoid that will be the main priority, as well as winning back his starting spot.
Still 25, he’s got a lot of good soccer ahead of him, but has a lot of work to do if he wants to be included in the 2026 World Cup squad, as intriguing centre back options are continuing to quietly emerge from different corners for Canada, just making Kennedy’s road towards minutes that much more complicated going forward.
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After making Canada’s World Cup roster, it’s been a tough go for Liam Fraser the past few months, as he’s struggled for minutes in the second Belgian division. Ditto for David Wotherspoon and St. Johnstone, where he’s gone from key regular to a super sub.
Otherwise, Liam Millar has continued a frustrating 22/23 season for Basel, where he went from on-fire offensively last season to a rotational piece, one who's been playing wing back despite scoring double-digit goals in the 21/22 campaign.
Also, for understandable reasons, Atiba Hutchinson's stock has dipped, as after battling to be fit for the World Cup, where he made his 100th cap for Canada and was one of the oldest players at the tournament, he’s barely featured for Beşiktaş since, with whispers of retirement circling around him.
Elsewhere, it’s also been a tough time for Canadian injuries, with the likes of Doneil Henry, Junior Hoilett, Maxime Crépeau, James Pantemis, Samuel Piette, Joel Waterman and Kamal Miller all either injured or returning from an injury, which could impact their CanMNT statuses for this camp.
Lastly, if you like to buy low on players, look at Tajon Buchanan, Iké Ugbo and Richie Laryea as potential investments, as while they haven’t maybe been at their best in 2023, it feels like they’re all turning the corner lately. For now, however, they remain in the stocks down section.