National team head coach Stephen Hart held a conference call yesterday and discussed the Armenia friendly, among other topics. Not surprisingly, he stated that the roster for the match at the end of this month would consist mainly of Euro-based players, with North American players only to be selected as a last resort.
Given the state of the Euro player pool it would not be difficult to name at least a dozen of the 16 or 18 players that will be selected. However, I prefer not to deal in speculation. Instead, I track player tweets and club press releases and provide you only with selections that have been confirmed from other sources
So far we have one name: Burnley mainstay and central defender David Edgar. Edgar received mixed reviews for his performance in the first group stage of CONCACAF qualifying, but has been having an excellent season for his Championship club. With the likes of Jakovic and Hainault not likely to be selected, and Adam Straith having dropped a level down the German pyramid to a 3.Bundesliga side, expect him to start against Armenia.
Update 14:30 12 February 2012: added Olivier Occean
In an audio interview with the excellent and heretofore unknown to me French blog Le Soccer Plus, striker Olivier Occean confirms that he will take part in the Armenia match. Occean is the in form attacker at this moment, having scored at midweek in a Cup match against 1.Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, and adding a goal for his Greuther Furth side in a big 2.Bundesliga victory over Paderborn. His 11 goals are second in the German second tier, and he ranks first in the combined table for goals and assists. Occean has not enjoyed the same goal scoring success with Canada; his tally of 5 goals in 23 matches was padded by scoring 3 goals over the last round against St Lucia and St Kitts.
Update 22:00 12 February 2012: added Pedro Pacheco
With Hart stating that he would try to avoid calling MLS players for this friendly, Canada was bound to encounter some depth issues. Midfield, in particular, would be short of talent with the likes of Julian de Guzman, Dwayne De Rosario, Will Johnson, and Patrice Bernier being allowed to stay with their clubs in pre-season. The selection of Pacheco as published on the CD Santa Clara site, the quasi-Canadian, from the Portuguese second division suggests we should be on the lookout for some other less than overwhelming selections to fill spots in the middle of the park.
Update 08:15 14 February 2012: added Tosaint Ricketts
Tosaint Ricketts has earned a reputation as a supersub, and has scored twice for Canada coming off the bench. One goal came in a friendly with Ecuador and earned Canada the draw, and the second was an insurance marker in the Puerto Rico away match that was close to that point. He also scored while getting the start in Canada's last WCQ against St Kitts. For me, he's a bit down the depth chart, especially with Occean scoring at his current clip, and isn't really in the discussion as a starter, but with his speed he'll always be dangerous late on in matches.
Update 22:40 15 February 2012: added Adam Straith
Defender Adam Straith was a major contributor in 2011's WCQ qualifying round and has long been considered a defender with some promise. He is versatile -- he can play in the centre or at right back -- but recently dropped to the German 3rd tier on a loan spell in order to get more playing time.
Update 16:40 22 February 2012: added Julian de Guzman
Midfield was always going to be a depth concern as long as Stephen Hart was sticking to his rule about sticking with a European-based squad for this match. After the only-recently-healthy Atiba Hutchinson, who else is there, really? De Guzman had an underrated season last year for TFC and seems finally to be recovering from an ongoing knee injury. He will be a big player in the upcoming qualifying campaign and it will be good to see him in action. TFC fans should have no complaints, as he is suspended (yellow cards) for the March 7th CONCACAF Champions League clash. If anything, they should be grateful he's getting live action.
|F||Olivier Occean||Greuther Furth||30||23||5||[source]|
|M||Pedro Pacheco||CD Santa Clara||27||5||0||[source]|
|F||Tosaint Ricketts||Poli Timisoara||24||9||3||[source]|
|D||Adam Straith||1. FC Saarbruecken||21||10||0||[source]|
|M||Julian de Guzman||Toronto FC||30||52||4||[source]|