Home Global Game CONCACAF The Canadian way: Looking at who DIDN’T end up being on our Olympic roster

The Canadian way: Looking at who DIDN’T end up being on our Olympic roster


It’s the nature of Canadian soccer supporters to focus who is not on a roster rather than who’s on a roster.

So, to satisfy the need to talk about who’s not coming to the CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers, this column will focus on who wasn’t named to Canada’s U-23 team roster.

The roster was released Friday afternoon.

In August, national-team head coach Benito Floro said he hoped that European and MLS clubs would cooperate and allow Canadian players who’d be eligible to participate in Olympic qualifying the chance to represent their county. He said if he was blocked from getting the players he needed “it will be much more difficult for us.”

Of course, the first major absence is Cyle Larin, who is poised to break the MLS rookie record for scoring. Had Orlando City not had a glimmer of hope in the playoff race, he likely would have been released to the Canadian program. But, with the playoff chase still on life support, the Lions chose to keep their striker. That’s what I’ve been told.

Orlando’s decision to hold onto Larin is more understandable than the Whitecaps’ decision to hold onto fullback Sam Adekugbe and midfielder Kianz Froese. The Whitecaps are doing very well — and it’s not like Froese or Adekugbe have seen major MLS minutes.

But the excuse that will be made is that the Whitecaps are in a chase for the Supporters’ Shield and still have CONCACAF Champions League games to come, which will surely test the club’s depth.

If the Whitecaps were an American team, I’d understand it. For a U.S. team, with the Supporters’ Shield earns a CONCACAF Champions League spot.

That isn’t the case for the Canadian teams. Canada has its own mechanism to determine CCL places outside of MLS play. In fact, the Whitecaps have already earned their place in next year’s CCL by winning the Voyageurs Cup. For a Canadian side, a Supporters’ Shield is well, like getting excited about your NHL team of choice taking the Presidents’ Trophy. Heck, if I was a fan, I wouldn’t want my team touching the Supporters’ Shield until after it won the MLS Cup. If my team was presented a Supporters Shield before it won the big game, I’d expect the captain to take it, then rest it on the FieldTurf.

That’s because MLS Cup is the symbol of the best team in the league, not the Supporters’ Shield. Celebrating the Supporters’ Shield is, well, only slightly more valid than having a parade because your side won a preseason tournament at Disney World.

So, what about the advantage of finishing at the top of the overall standings and having home advantage from the start of the playoffs to MLS Cup? I’d shrug and say I understand that.

But, here’s something. Since 2003, only two teams — TWO — have done the Supporters’ Shield/MLS Cup double. And only three teams since 2003 have even made it to the MLS Cup game. That means the vast majority of Supporters’ Shield winners flame out in the playoffs. History has a lesson for us. A foolish club goes for the Supporters’ Shield. A smart club rotates its players, gets key guys some rest, and goes for the MLS Cup.

(And releases young players for international duty.)

Sigh. And, finally, instead of bringing up players who Floro couldn’t get, I want to ask about a player who wasn’t invited at all — and that’s FC Edmonton’s Allan Zebie. He’s played in 14 of his team’s 23 NASL matches, and has looked like one of the best young fullbacks in the league. He’s been smart, he’s been composed — and, if you look at the Canadian roster, it seems to be a bit short on fullbacks.

1- GK- Maxime Crépeau | CAN / Impact Montréal
2- FB- Johnny Grant | CAN / FC Montréal
3- FB- Mark-Anthony Kaye | CAN / Toronto FC II
4- CB- Jackson Farmer | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
5- CB- Luca Gasparotto | SCO / Greenock Morton FC
6- M- Chris Mannella | CAN / Toronto FC
7- M- Mauro Eustáquio | CAN / Ottawa Fury FC
8- M- Jay Chapman | CAN / Toronto FC
9- F- Anthony Jackson-Hamel | CAN / Impact Montréal
10- F- Caleb Clarke | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
11- M- Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé | CAN / Impact Montréal
12- GK- Quillan Roberts | CAN / Toronto FC
13- M- Michael Petrasso | ENG / Queens Park Rangers
14- M- Samuel Piette | ESP / Deportivo La Coruña
15- M- Ben Fisk | ESP / Deportivo La Coruña B
16- M- Molham Babouli | CAN / Toronto FC II
17- M- Hanson Boakai | CAN / FC Edmonton
18- GK- Ricky Gomes | POR / Sport Clube de Mirandela
19- CB- Skylar Thomas | CAN / Toronto FC II
20- M- Dylan Carreiro | SCO / Arbroath

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  1. Steven

    September 24, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Little late here but what about Doneil Henry? He’s healthy again and playing for West Ham reserves. And he’s 22. Why wasn’t he selected?

  2. cwell

    September 19, 2015 at 9:07 am

    I wonder how Floro scouts players from three NA leagues, Europe and, lest we forget Issey, Malaysia! Does he rely on team coaches for information on how players have been doing in games and training? Does he have a network of scouts?

    Can that be right, only two (2) fullbacks on the squad?

    However, if Allan Zebie is as good as you say he is, it’s understandable that Miller would want to keep him on board for a run at the play-offs.

    • Steven Sandor

      September 19, 2015 at 9:47 am

      FC Edmonton was willing to let him go.

      • cwell

        September 19, 2015 at 1:00 pm

        Floro’s player selection remains a big question. And don’t think that Bekker was the right choice for the first GC game because he scored a goal for the Impact v SJ!

  3. John

    September 19, 2015 at 7:20 am

    Agree about Zebie. No Bustos? Jalali? Is Levis too old for this? Mallan Roberts?
    A bit Torontocentric..

  4. Steedman

    September 18, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    I have no problems with Vancouver holding on to these players. The Whitecaps have plenty of games over the rest of the season and those two are constantly in a dog fight for minutes.
    I’m also happy that the Caps have taken an aggressive approach to claiming trophies this season. Being the first Canadian team to claim any of these titles would be great for national interest, and how slick would those Whitecap kits look with a little Gold Star above the crest.

  5. BCM

    September 18, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    Steven, you talked yourself in circles…

    ‘A smart club rotates its players, gets key guys some rest, and goes for the MLS Cup.’

    Maybe that’s exactly the reason Vancouver did not release the two players. And if so, what to that gain by releasing than for international duty but a depleted roster? Of course they’re not going to say, we’re going to test done key players for the stretch – of course they say they want the best record and will fun for it.

    The fix is to simply have an important youth tournament on Fifa days so players must be released, or at least have MLS recognise this tournament and halt games for a week. They would benefit from making national youth stars.

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