Who is Luca Koleosho? A deep dive on the CanMNT's newest call-up
VANCOUVER – With their June window rapidly approaching, the CanMNT have released their 25-man squad for that camp on Wednesday, as they get to take on Curacao and Honduras in Concacaf Nations League action.
There’s a lot to be excited about in the squad as well.
Headlined by the long-awaited return of Alphonso Davies, and supplemented by a return of several key regulars from Canada’s qualification journey, as well as a long-deserved shout for Raheem Edwards, this Canadian squad is loaded with all sorts of talent and fun stories.
But despite those promising storylines, they are far from the biggest news in this release, as it was also announced that 17-year-old trio-national, Luca Koleosho, had been included in Canada’s squad.
Which for Canada, is huge. It might not seem like it at first glance, as Koleosho has just one professional appearance to his name, but don’t be fooled by that - this is a sizable move for Canada.
As some might know, that one professional appearance actually came this past weekend, when Koleosho graced the field in Spain’s La Liga, coming on for Espanyol in the final game of their season against Granada.
So given that Koleosho is also eligible for the US, with whom he’s played at the youth level, as well as for Italy, that rapid progression at the club level has all of a sudden ramped up chatter about his name and his national team future, for good reason.
Because of that, seeing Canada stake out the first blow in the race to get Koleosho to commit is interesting, as they look to continue their impressive record with dual-national players.
Despite all of that, however, there are a lot of questions to be asked of Koleosho after this news, with the biggest one being quite simple - who is he, and what can he bring to Canada?
Here’s a look at the 17-year-old who has seemingly burst onto the scene in recent days.
A quickly-rising prospect
Born in the US to Italian and Canadian parents, Koleosho mostly grew up south of the border, where he quickly developed into a solid player playing youth soccer in the US. An exciting winger, one who can both score and create, that led him to catch the attention of coaches, who were quite enamoured with what they were seeing from the youngster.
So given that he had a European passport, thanks to his mother’s Italian roots, it was decided that he should head over to Europe to pursue his dream as a teenager, as he didn’t have to wait until the age of 18 like those who don’t have such a passport have to do, making it a no-brainer for him to take advantage of that.
Through that, he went out on trial, where he was then able to find his feet in Spain, where he remains today. First, he cut his teeth with Spanish lower division club CF Reus, where he impressed with his continued progression, which led him to make the exciting move to La Liga’s Espanyol in 2020, allowing him to develop in their youth system.
From there, he just continued to chip away in their system, showing great promise as a prospect, one that many felt Espanyol was close to calling up. Playing first with their U18 team before moving up to their U19s, his play had also started to attract the interest of both Canada and the US through that play, with the latter even inviting him to some youth camps along the way, giving an idea of how he had been progressing.
So in a sense, this recent La Liga debut was coming.
Having improved as he had, it felt like a matter of time until he got to play with the first team, and then, with Espanyol having nothing to play for in their last game of this season, they decided that last weekend was the right time to give him a taste. Even if it was just for two minutes deep into extra time, it was a big sign for what’s to come for him next season, as Espanyol showed that he isn’t far away from the big time in their eyes.
Because of that, it feels like Koleosho is on the precipice of a big explosion. Despite not turning 18 until September, it feels like he could even be gracing La Liga fields with regularity before that happens, especially if he is able to build off this recent debut.
So although it might seem early for Canada to call him, seeing his rapid rise shows why they were quick to act on bringing him when the opportunity arose, showing that they’re keeping tabs on the promising youngster.
Another dual-national win for Herdman with 17-year old Luca Koleosho committing to Canada. Berhalter and #usMNT had been calling the player. Koleosho made his first-team debut with Espanyol on the final game-week of the La Liga season. #canMNT— Gareth Wheeler (@GarethWheeler) May 25, 2022
What does this mean for the CanMNT?
There’s no doubt that Koleosho has a bright future, might this senior call be too soon for the 17-year-old? And given that Canada is looking to continue their preparations for the World Cup later this year in this June camp, which is why they’ve brought an otherwise strong and familiar squad to take on Iran in a friendly and both Curacao and Honduras in Nations League, it’s certainly something worth pondering.
At the same time, however, it’s also worth noting that the timing is great for them to call in Koleosho.
Having recently been included on Canada's long list for the U20 CONCACAF Championships which are happening later this summer in Honduras, you’d have to imagine that Canada would love to have Koleosho represent Les Rouges as they chase Olympic and U20 World Cup qualification at that tournament. And that’s important to note.
Why, one might ask? Well, with that tournament set to kick off on June 18th, Canada is expected to hold a short camp leading up to that tournament, before they get going down in Central America, where they’ll engage in their last preparations for that competition.
And with Canada’s senior team’s camp coming just a few days before, this call-up does create a timeline where Koleosho is able to participate in a good chunk of the senior camp, before heading down to join the U20s.
Which, for Canada, would be a stroke of genius, as not only would they be able to get him his first caps at the youth level in that plan (he has previously played for the US’s U15s), but they’d also be able to do so while allowing him to get a taste of the senior team environment first, potentially giving Canada an edge for when Koleosho does choose to commit to a national team.
Because of that, this surprise move all of a sudden makes a lot of sense for Canada.
Might it be too early for Koleosho to play for Canada’s senior team, especially given the overall depth of the pool and their ongoing preparations for the World Cup? Possibly, but if you factor in a potential U20 inclusion on top of that, it adds credence to the move.
Especially given how quick his star is rising, getting in on the hype train early is always a smart move, and while that train may have very well left the station already, this call-up shows that Canada has smartly reserved a first-class ticket on that journey, one that is just beginning for the 17-year-old.
17-year-old Luca Koleosho has been called up to Canada’s Senior National Team after making his La Liga debut this week. https://t.co/1dqt0kG8CF— OPSM Soccer (@OPSMSoccer) May 25, 2022