April 16, 2024
  • April 16, 2024
Canada Jonathan Sirois

Changing Of The Guard: Canada Roster Reveal, Reactions

By on March 12, 2024 0 519 Views

Interim Head Coach Mauro Biello has named his twenty-three-man Canadian men’s National Team roster for its crucial Nations League Playoff match against Trinidad and Tobago.

With Copa America qualification on the line, Biello surprised many with his selections to leave veterans at home and call upon younger and hungrier players to get the job done.

New Look Squad A Step In The Right Direction

It wasn’t too long ago where many of the veterans that missed out on today’s roster reveal were surefire starters for the country, especially given their heroic efforts to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. However, it is due time for there to be a “passing of the torch”, with veterans like Milan Borjan, Steven Vitoria, and Junior Hoilett being replaced by younger counterparts in the squad. This is a clear statement of intent, especially with the 2026 FIFA World Cup only over two years away.

“I think the idea behind the selection is to put the best possible squad in place to get the performance we want in March [against Trinidad & Tobago],” explained Biello to media about his decisions. “I also have a responsibility of evaluating players to be ready for 2026 [FIFA World Cup], and I think giving the opportunity to [younger] players now to gain experience is also important.”

Such is the boldness of Biello in his selection that only one player in the entire 23-man roster is over the age of 30: TFC Captain Jonathan Osorio (31). That emphasis on youth has not gone unnoticed, and many fans are excited by the change of perspective from Biello and Canada soccer to focus more on the next generation, rather than trying to recreate what the past generation did.

Reward For In-Form Players

It is a classic complaint from many national team fans across the world that certain coaches like to chose players based on their favouritism or history rather than on form. But for Canada, those in-form players have been given their recompense by being called up for this crucial match.

These are players like Theo Bair and Ike Ugbo, who are on good scoring forms for their club sides. Bair has seven goals and two assists in 10 games in 2024 for Scottish side Motherwell, earning him SPFA Player of the Month awards for December and January. Ugbo, meanwhile, has scored six goals and registered one assist since joining EFL Championship side Sheffield Wednesday in mid January.

“Theo [Bair] had a really good start to the year, and he’s ended it [2023] well,” acknowledged Biello about Bair’s good form. “He’s continued his momentum and I think he’s not only been able to score goals but also been very impactful in his play, getting assists”.

“[Ike] Ugbo has changed to Sheffield [Wednesday] and transformed that team. They’ve gone a bit of a run and he’s been scoring goals, getting assists and there’s a lot of his play that I’ve enjoyed watching and I think he could be helpful for us”.

But its not just in-form players from Europe that are getting rewarded. A quartert from CF Montreal in Mathieu Choiniere, Jonathan Sirois, Samuel Piette, and Joel Waterman have also been called up thanks to the club’s strong start to the MLS season.

“I think they have started well in the MLS season, but I have followed these players for a long time,” remarked Biello in French about the quartet. “I am happy that they are in good form, and I am certain that they can help us in the coming match”.

With Biello focusing on form rather than experience in the squad, we may see a different look to the way that Canada perform in the coming match against Trinidad and Tobago.

Here Starts “The Cultural Reset”

One of the things that made Canada’s run to the 2022 World Cup was the sense of unity and togetherness in John Herdman’s group. But now, times are changing and there is a need to move on from the past and start to lay down the blocks for the future. Nevertheless, there still is a need for that same mentality to shift from the “Old Guard” into the new one. And for that, you need new leaders.

“I think that’s something that I’ll decide in camp,” declared Biello to media about the question of captaincy. “For me, it’ll be a cultural reset within the group, and I think what I’m looking to achieve is a base in this camp. I think there is a lot of good leaders, and some of these young leaders need space to live and experience situations now with these responsibilites.”

It will now be time for players like Alphonso Davies, Cyle Larin, Jonathan David, and Stephen Eustaquio to really step up for the team as the new faces will look up to them for help. With 2026 coming ever closer, there needs to be an evolution for a ‘New Brotherhood’.

“I definitely want players that are hungry, players that are coming in with that attitude of representing this country”, explained Biello about the idea of a ‘New Brotherhood’.

“If I have to analyze the squad, it [the attitude] has kind of slipped over the last year post-World Cup, and for me its about re-igniting that passion.”

“When you make some chances, there is gonna be some players that are gonna step up into some leadership roles, and that’s not just going to happen overnight, or in just one camp. Leaders need space to grow, they need time to live things within a group and from there you start to form and mold the new leaders for this team moving forward.”

While the leaders and players may need some more time to forge that new ‘Brotherhood’, they will still be forced to step-up in the coming weeks for this crucial match against Trinidad & Tobago. With the possibility of facing some of South America’s finest teams ahead of the World Cup, failure is simply not an option for Biello and his men.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *