Six CPL Youngsters Crack Canada U-20 Roster
The Canada U-20 Squad for the upcoming Concacaf Men’s U-20 Championship has been announced, and six young Canadian Premier League talents are on the roster.
That’s two down from eight on the provisional roster, with Mamadou Kane and Paul Amedume being cut from the original sixty-man selection. Still, the CPL now represent six of the twenty youngsters called up to action, which is quite a good percentage for the four-year-old domestic league.
Without further ado, here’s our rundown of the six CPL youngster to make the international team:
Cavalry FC – Jean-Aniel Assi
CF Montreal loanee Jean-Aniel Assi may clock in at just 17, but the promising forward has already found no problem collecting minutes at the Canadian Premier League. That shouldn’t come as a surprise given that the CF Montreal academy product turned professional with his MLS parent club two years ago, even making history as CF Montreal’s youngest-ever player when he made his Champions League debut against CD Olimpia.
The winger will come into call-up consideration amidst some sharp league form, having notched an assist against Pacific FC after a smart press from the youngster caught out the Tridents as they built out from the back. This is a youngster with a high ceiling, but he’ll almost certainly be one of the youngest players on the squad if he cracks the final twenty-man roster.
Forge FC – Dino Bontis
17-year-old goalkeeper Dino Bontis has yet to make his professional debut with Forge, riding the bench on a few occasions after arriving on a developmental contract in April.
The Hamilton local developed through the Hamilton Sparta before jumping up to the Toronto FC Academy, where he was a nine-year-old golden glove winner at the U-13 Concacaf Club Championship in 2013 . As the son of under-fire Canada Soccer President Nick Bontis, he’ll be tasked with proving that he’s worthy of a roster selection on his own merit.
Valour FC – Matthew Catavolo
Attacking midfielder Matthew Catavolo has already accumulated plenty of gametime since arriving to Valour FC, with the former CF Montreal youth prospect showing plenty of promise at IG Field. At just 19 years of age, the diminutive midfielder looks right at home on the professional stage and shows plenty of good technique for his age.
He’s also no stranger to international football at the youth level, having made eight appearances for Les Rouges between the FIFA U-17 World Cup and Concacaf U-17 Championship in 2019. The 19-year-old reportedly impressed during last month’s U-20 camp, even scoring a peach of a goal during the test.
Pacific FC – Kamron Habibullah
Highly-touted forward Kamron Habibullah didn’t take long to get things started after arriving on loan from the Vancouver Whitecaps, scoring a few tasty goals in preseason before collecting a few appearances with the reigning Canadian Premier League champions. Given who they’ve got in their attacking line, that’s no small feat.
The 18-year-old forward had inked a homegrown contract with the Vancouver Whitecaps alongside Matteo Campagna last April, and went on to make three MLS appearances in 2021. He’s been prolific for the ‘Caps at the youth level, bagging some 21 goals in 58 appearances from the U-16 to U-19 levels.
He’s also no stranger to Canada’s youth setup, having scored three goals for Les Rouges in the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Forge FC – Kwasi Poku
Forge just has a knack for picking out astounding youngsters, don’t they? Last season saw Woobens Pacius and Garven Metusala break out onto the scene, and this year it seems to be Kwasi Poku’s turn: the six-foot-three midfielder hit the ground running in the Champions League against Cruz Azul, with the 19-year-old immediately slotting into the line-up of the Hamilton-based side when league play followed. Thrown into left-back as needed, he’s really held his own at the professional level.
The 19-year-old was with the Canada U-20 squad during their previous camp, but returned to Forge early to help out during an injury crisis and recently featured in a Canadian Championship Final against Toronto FC.
The former TFC Academy prospect cut his teeth in League1 Ontario before jumping up to USL League One action with Toronto FC II, with Forge proving to be another step in the right direction for the Brampton local.
York United – Lowell Wright
Now in the midst of his third professional season at the tender age of 18, Lowell Wright offers a ton of physicality – and a keen eye for goal – for the young reds.
The teenage striker already has seven professional goals through forty-one appearances under his feet, and saw good game time in the earlier U-20 camp. Having joined York United as the club’s youngest player in 2020, he’s developed well after stepping into the professional game at the tender age of sixteen.
The Canada U-20 selection by Mauro Biello also includes two MLS talents who saw time in the CPL last season, with Matteo Campagna and Keesean Ferdinand cracking the ranks as well.
Here’s the Canada U-20 Roster for those interested, with a few training players to boot:
1- GK- Ben Alexander | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC Academy
2- FB- Noah Abatneh | ITA / SS Lazio Rome
3- FB- Kwasi Poku | CAN / Forge FC Hamilton
4- CB- Justin Smith | FRA / OGC Nice
5- CB- Jamie Knight-Lebel | ENG / Bristol City FC
6- CB- Matteo Campagna | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
7- W- Jean-Aniel Assi | CAN / Cavalry FC
8- M- Rida Zouhir | CAN / CF Montréal
9- F- Lowell Wright | CAN / York United FC
10- M- Matt Catavolo | CAN / Valour FC
11- F- Kamron Habibullah | CAN / Pacific FC
12- CB- Loïc Cloutier | CAN / Académie de CF Montréal
13- FB- Kobe Franklin | CAN / Toronto FC II
14- M- Gabriel Pellegrino | GER / SC Freiburg
15- FB- Keesean Ferdinand | CAN / CF Montréal
16- M- Maël Henry | CAN / Académie de l’Impact de Montréal
17- M- Jesse Costa | GER / VfL Wolfsburg
18- GK- Dino Bontis | CAN / Forge FC Hamilton
19- F- Tiago Coimbra | BRA / SE Palmeiras
20- F- Hugo Mbongue Mbongue | CAN / Toronto FC II
GK- Adisa De Rosario | CAN / Toronto FC Academy
CB- Jefferson Alphonse | CAN / CF Montréal
CB- Adam Pearlman | CAN / Toronto FC
FB- Eric White | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
M- Hugo Tavares | POR / FC Paços de Ferreira
The 2022 Concacaf Men’s U-20 Championship sees Canada drawn into a group with Cuba, St. Kitts and Nevis, and the USA, with the top three teams advancing to the Round of 16. The tournament acts as a double-qualifier for both the 2024 Olympic Games and the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup, and will run from June 18 to July 3.