For the first time in a long time, Canada will enter the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup as contenders. A strong roster, coupled with recent results makes them a legitimate threat to challenge the top teams in the region.
John Herdman has called up a smart roster for this competition, one that will in equal parts make Canada competitive while also taking a look at the wider squad a little bit. Newcomers Harry Patton, Tyler Pasher and Ayo Akinola could all have roles to play during the upcoming World Cup qualifying campaign so it is good to get them integrated now.
Here is a breakdown of Canada’s roster, and what you can expect from this team at the Gold Cup:
Goalkeepers: Dayne St. Clair, Jayson Leutwiler, Maxime Crepeau
Without starter Milan Borjan, goalkeeping will be one of the more intriguing positions for Canada this year’s tournament. His was one of the easiest names to fill out on the teamsheet so we might get a glimpse at what life post-Borjan will look like for the national team.
Dayne St. Clair is the goalkeeper of the future for Canada. At just 24 he is already a solid MLS keeper with the potential to be much much more. With that being said he has not played an MLS match for Minnesota since May 8.
Max Crepeau, on the other hand, has been starting consistently for Vancouver this season. From a poorly form-based standpoint, he is probably the starter although Canada could very easily split games during the group stage to see what they have in both keepers. It is also good to see veteran Jayson Leutwiler get back in the national team pool and his experience will certainly come in handy for the group.
Defenders: Alistair Johnston, Kamal Miller, Steven Vitoria, Scott Kennedy, Doneil Henry, Alphonso Davies, Richie Laryea
Canada’s biggest question mark going into the final stage of Concacaf World Cup qualifying remains its backline. So the fact that they will get an entire tournament to continue to test themselves prior to that round is a big opportunity.
For all the ink that has been devoted to this issue, Canada’s backline has actually held up very well this past year, allowing just one goal. The opposition, evidently, has not been particularly challenging, but it is a welcome sign nonetheless.
Kamal Miller rejoining the group will give it a boost while Steven Vitoria, Doneil Richie Laryea, Scott Kennedy and Alistair Johnson have all been regulars on the Canadian backline in recent matches. Kennedy, in particular, impressed immensely in the last Canadian camp and looks like he will be a big boost to the quality of the backline.
Midfielders: Samuel Piette, Stephen Eustaquio, Liam Fraser, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Harry Paton, Jonathan Osorio
It is a reasonably young midfield for Canada, as 29-year-old Jonathan Osorio is the oldest player in the group. With that being said, most of these players already have plenty of experience with the national team and Herdman will have no shortage of solid options.
The newcomer here is Harry Paton, who had a great season with Ross County in the Scottish Premier League. Like the majority of this group he is an all-action midfielder who can do a job in multiple spots.
Without Atiba Hutchinson, Milan Borjan and Scott Arfield, this is a big tournament for the likes of Jonathan Osorio and Samuel Piette. Both of these players have been with the national team group for a long time and will be relied on as leaders during this tournament.
Forwards: Tyler Pasher, Lucas Cavallini, Junior Hoilett, Theo Corbeanu, Tajon Buchanan, Cyle Larin, Ayo Akinola
As always this is the bread and butter of the Canadian side and includes one of the most dangerous groups in this entire competition. Other than Jonathan David, all of the mainstays are there and Cyle Larin in particular has been in great form for Canada of late.
There are also two exciting additions to the group, Ayo Akinola and Tyler Pasher. Akinola’s decision to play for Canada, and inclusion in this team, is one of the most exciting parts of this roster. His hold up and finishing ability give Canada’s attack yet another weapon going forward and he could be a real threat either in a starting role or off the bench.
Pasher has also earned his spot on this team given his incredible start to the MLS season with the Houston Dynamo. His speed and finishing ability off the wing could make him a go-to option for Herdman during the competition.
Canadians have won the Concacaf Gold Cup golden boot in the last two tournaments. A member of this group could easily make it three.