Home Canadian Soccer Di Chiara, Morgan get their first national team call-ups

Di Chiara, Morgan get their first national team call-ups

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Joseph Di Chiara
Joseph Di Chiara and Ashtone Morgan will both get their chances to earn their first-ever caps for the Canadian national team.

The inclusion of the two youngsters highlights six changes made to the Canadian roster by national men’s team coach Stephen Hart ahead of World Cup qualifiers Oct. 7 in St. Lucia and Oct. 11 against Puerto Rico at Toronto’s BMO Field.

Di Chiara, 19, has played three Russian Premier League matches with Kryliya Sovetov (Soviet Wings). A graduate of the Greater Toronto Area’s Spartacus Soccer Club , Di Chiara was never selected to a Canadian U-17 or U-20 squad. But his breakthrough in Russia has got Hart curious enough that he wants to see more.

“It’s been difficult to get a lot of scouting results on him,” said Hart, who was impressed with DVD footage he saw of Di Chiara playing in Russia.

“He looked composed, he looked technically sound. He kept the ball moving through the midfield.”

With reigning Canadian player of the year Atiba Hutchinson out with what’s feared to be a long-term knee injury, there is a chance for an upstart to seize a role in the middle of the park. As for Hutchinson, Hart said he is going to get a second opinion on his knee. He hasn’t returned to action for his club, PSV Eindhoven, since returning from Canada’s early-September series of qualifiers. Hutchinson had meniscus surgery after the Gold Cup, had begun playing for PSV, played for Canada, then went out with a knee issue that his club fears will need surgery to repair.

As for Morgan, Hart was in attendance for Toronto FC’s midweek CONCACAF Champions League match against Pumas UNAM, and was impressed by the 20-year-old’s composed shift at left back. Hart goes back a long way with Morgan.

“Ashtone, I was in camp with him with the U-23s,” said Hart. “I had the opportunity to work with him and view him closely.”

But, if Morgan is overwhelmed by the step up, Hart will not be afraid to use a right-footed player at left back.

Also back in the squad is striker Olivier Occean, who has scored five times in nine league matches for German side SpVgg Greuther Furth, which is at the top of the Bundesliga 2. table.

Occean got the call for the September qualifiers but had to pull out because of a slight injury — but he stirred up a hornet’s nest when he suggested on a radio show that he wasn’t entirely happy about how he’d been treated by the Canadian national team. Occean didn’t play for Canada at the Gold Cup.

Hart said Occean had come in for previous camps while he was unsettled in his professional career — and it showed in his performances. But, now that he’s got a great new start on his career in Germany, Hart said he expects the striker to be a big part of Canada’s plans going forward.

“He got the call-up, and then he couldn’t come because of an injury,” said Hart, who said he has no issues with Occean. “If it’s me, he has the chance to come in here and prove me wrong.”

As well, Canadian keeper Milan Borjan has a slight injury suffered in Turkish league action. Former TFC keeper Kenny Stamatopoulos, who now plays in Sweden, will come into the squad.

THE SQUAD
1- GK- Lars Hirschfeld | NOR / Valerenga Fotball
2- FB- Nik Ledgerwood | GER / SV Wehen Wiesbaden
3- FB- Ashtone Morgan | CAN / Toronto FC
4- CB- Kevin McKenna | GER / FC Koln
5- CB- Adam Straith | GER / FC Energie Cottbus
6- M- Julian de Guzman | CAN / Toronto FC
7- F- Iain Hume | ENG / Preston North End FC
8- M- Will Johnson | USA / Real Salt Lake
9- F- Tosaint Ricketts | ROM / FC Politehnica Timi?oara
10- F- Simeon Jackson | ENG / Norwich City FC
11- M- Josh Simpson | TUR / Manisaspor
12- M- Joseph Di Chiara | RUS / FC Kryliya Sovetov Samara
13- FB- Ante Jazic | USA / Chivas USA
14- F- Dwayne De Rosario | USA / DC United
15- CB- David Edgar | ENG / Burnley FC
16- F- Olivier Occean | GER / SpVgg Greuther Furth
17- M- Terry Dunfield | CAN / Toronto FC
22- GK- Kenny Stamatopoulos | SWE / AIK

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