VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC players Theo Bair, Michael Baldisimo, Derek Cornelius, Patrick Metcalfe, and Ryan Raposo have been called up to the Canada U-23 national team for Concacaf Olympic qualifying later this month, the club confirmed on Wednesday.
The Canadian national team, consisting of players born after January 1, 1997, has been drawn in Group B, opening March 19 against El Salvador before facing Haiti on March 22, and Honduras on March 25.
As a result, the five ‘Caps players will be missing part of the preseason training camp and will rejoin the team in Utah after Canada’s slate of fixtures.
“This is a great opportunity for Canada and the men’s national team program to have this chance to qualify for the Olympic Games through Concacaf men’s Olympic qualifying,” said Mauro Biello, Canada Soccer’s Men’s Olympic National Team Coach. “We are in a competitive group ahead of a difficult knockout stage, but we have a chance to do something special with this group of young players.”
The eight-team competition concludes with the final on March 30 and will take place in Guadalajara, Mexico. It will determine the two teams to represent Concacaf at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo this coming July through August.
Every Canada match at the tournament will be broadcast live on OneSoccer with extended coverage throughout the tournament on Canada Soccer’s digital channels including Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter featuring the social media hashtags #canm23 and #CMOQ.
With five players on the 20-man roster, Whitecaps FC have the most representatives amongst any club on the U-23 national team.
Bair, 21, and Cornelius, 23, both have senior caps under their belt and were participants at the men’s national team camp this past January.
Baldisimo, 20, and Raposo, 22, are reporting for international duty for the first time in recent years. Baldisimo most previously represented his country in 2018 when he featured at the Concacaf men’s U-20 Championship, while Raposo was last with the national team as a U-15 camp invitee back in 2014.
The Olympic qualifying tournament marks the first call-up for the 22-year old Metcalfe.
Canada’s squad will prepare for the competition with an opportunity to become the first Canadian youth team to ever qualify for an Olympic Games. While only players born 1997 or later are eligible for the qualifying tournament, the Olympic Games may feature up to three overage players. Unlike previous qualifying campaigns, nations may only feature 17 outfield players (instead of 18) and three goalkeepers.
Both Concacaf Olympic qualifying and the Olympic Games were originally scheduled for 2020, but postponed because of the global Covid-19 pandemic. As such, both Concacaf Olympic qualifying featuring Canada’s U-24 players and the FIFA World Cup qualifiers featuring the Canada men’s national team will be played at the same time in March 2021.
The Concacaf Olympic qualifying tournament is an important next step for Canada’s young players on their journey to the MNT. The competition provides players with a chance to gain valuable international experience as part of their progress to the MNT.
1- GK- James Pantemis | CAN / CF Montréal
2- FB- Zachary Brault-Guillard | CAN / CF Montréal
3- FB- Zorhan Bassong | CAN / CF Montréal
4- CB- Thomas Meilleur-Giguère | CAN / Pacific FC
5- CB- Derek Cornelius | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
6- M- Michael Baldisimo | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
7- F- Tajon Buchanan | USA / New England Revolution
8- M- David Norman | CAN / Cavalry FC
9- F- Charles-Andreas Brym | BEL / Royal Mouscron
10- M- Aidan Daniels | USA / Oklahoma City Energy
11- F- Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla | CAN / CF Montréal
12- F- Kris Twardek | POL / Jagiellonia Białystok
13- FB- Marcus Godinho | GER / FSV Zwickau
14- M- Ryan Raposo | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
15- F- Theo Bair | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
16- CB- Callum Montgomery | USA / Minnesota United FC
17- M- Patrick Metcalfe | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
18- GK- Matthew Nogueira | POR / CS Maritimo
19- GK- Sebastian Breza | ITA / FC Bologna
20- AM- Lucas Dias | POR / Sporting CP U-23