The Canadian Soccer Association announced on Tuesday that Vancouver Whitecaps FC midfielder Bryce Alderson, striker Caleb Clarke, and Residency striker Yassin Essa are among 23 players called up to Canada’s U-20 men’s national team for an upcoming training camp in Mexico City, Mexico. The camp will run from February 11 to 16 ahead of the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Puebla, Mexico which will take place from February 18 to March 2.
The trio were last called up to the U-20 national team in November for a 10-day training camp in the United States and Costa Rica. Clarke scored two goals in a 2-0 win over Costa Rica, while Essa also scored in an exhibition match against local competition.
Three Whitecaps FC Residency graduates were also called up, with defender Daniel Stanese and midfielders Ben Fisk and Ben McKendry named to the roster. Stanese recently signed with the reserve side of German club FC Nürnberg, while McKendry is playing at the University of New Mexico and Fisk is trialing with the ‘Caps MLS squad.
Up for grabs at the CONCACAF Championship will be four spots for the confederation at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 in June.
“It will be a difficult tournament,” said U-20 head coach Nick Dasovic.
“Our goal for now is to make it to the quarterfinal match which will give us a one-off chance to qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in June.
“Whether we enter the match as a first or second seed from our group, we will deal with that.”
To qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, Canada will need to finish in either first or second place in Group B that also includes Cuba and Nicaragua. If the Canadians are successful in qualifying for the knock-out stages they will feature in a quarterfinal match-up against a team from Group A with a spot at Turkey 2013 on the line.
Dasovic stated that his team will be buoyed by an increased number of players playing in professional environments both at home and abroad, but also cautioned that in the same way that Canada has improved its player development structure in recent years – the same can be said about many of the competing nations.
“The strength of the squad is helped by the professional club academies in Canada and by the fact that we have a number of players on the squad that play in Europe,” said Dasovic.
“But at the same time, we need to realize that as we get better – all of our competition is getting better as well. You can’t take anything for granted and – at the end of the day – we will need a little luck to qualify.”
Canada will begin the tournament on February 18 with a clash against Cuba, before taking on Nicaragua on February 22.
Should Canada qualify for the knock-out stages, the all-important quarterfinal match would take place on February 26.
All matches at the competition will be played at either the Estadio Cuauhtemoc or the Estadio Olimpico de C.U. in Puebla.
All tournament matches will be streamed live on CONCACAF.com. On-site coverage of the CONCACAF Championship will also be provided on CanadaSoccerTV.
Canada will need to trim its roster down to 20 players ahead of the CONCACAF Championship.
1- GK- Ricky Gomes | POR / Sport Clube de Mirandela
2- FB- Jon Dollery | ENG / Crawley Town FC
3- FB- Marco Lapenna | GER / FC Erzgebirge Aue
4- CB- Doneil Henry | CAN / Toronto FC
5- CB- Daniel Stanese | GER / FC Nürnberg Reserve *Whitecaps FC Residency graduate
6- M- Samuel Piette | GER / Fortuna Düsseldorf
7- M- Ben Fisk | CAN / Unattached *Whitecaps FC Residency graduate
8- M - Bryce Alderson | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
9- F- Caleb Clarke | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
10- M- Keven Aleman | ESP / Real Valladolid
11- M- Michael Petrasso | ENG / Queens Park Rangers
12- M- Dylan Carreiro | ENG / Queens Park Rangers
13- M- Alessandro Riggi | ESP / Celta de Vigo
14- F- Yassin Essa | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency
15- CB- Manjrekar James | HUN / PMFC-MATIAS
16- M- Mauro Eustáquio | POR / Sporting Clube de Pombal
17- F- Anthony Jackson-Hamel | CAN / Académie Impact Montréal
18- GK- Maxime Crépeau | CAN / Académie Impact Montréal
19- FB- Jordan Murrell | USA / Syracuse University
20- M- Zakaria Messoudi | CAN / Académie Impact Montréal
21- M- Ben McKendry | USA / University of New Mexico *Whitecaps FC Residency graduate
22- F- Stefan Vukovic | Unattached / sans club
23- FB- Allan Zebie | CAN / Edmonton FC Reserve