Vancouver Whitecaps rising star Alphonso Davies headlines a young Canadian squad for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The Canadian Soccer Association announced its 23-player squad Tuesday for the biennial championship for teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean.
The squad features 14 Gold Cup debutantes including Davies, a 16-year-old who was born in a refugee camp in Ghana to Liberian parents and recently received his Canadian citizenship.
Watch below: On March 25, 2016, Julia Wong profiled teenaged Edmonton soccer player Alphonso Davies. At the time, he had been selected for Canada’s U-20 soccer team, but his story began in war-torn Liberia.
Veterans include Vancouver’s Marcel de Jong, who was named to his fifth Gold Cup team, and Montreal’s Patrice Bernier and Toronto’s Tosaint Ricketts, who were named to their fourth. Ricketts is recovering from a hamstring strain suffered earlier this month but is expected to return before Canada’s Gold Cup opener.
“We have a dynamic team that has speed and offensive weapons,” Canada coach Octavio Zambrano said in a statement. “We have a balance between offence and defence. We want to go forward and have a high tempo, but we also have to make sure we have the defenders that are up to the task in our end.”
Missing from the squad is Orlando City star striker Cyle Larin, who was recently arrested in Florida on a misdemeanour DUI alcohol or drugs charge and given a citation for driving on the wrong side of the road. He was cleared to return to Major League Soccer on Tuesday by the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program doctors.
Davies could become Canada’s youngest player to feature in a CONCACAF Gold Cup match. He became Canada’s youngest-ever international when he played in Canada’s 2-1 win over Curacao in a friendly earlier this month.
View a photo gallery of teen soccer star Alphonso Davies below:
Other young players include Gold Cup debutantes Raheem Edwards and Michael Petrasso, who both turn 22 during this summer’s competition. Samuel Piette, also 22, is back for his third Gold Cup.
Scott Arfield of Burnley FC in England, Junior Hoilett of Cardiff City FC in Wales, Jayson Leutwiler of Shrewsbury Town FC in England, and Steven Vitoria of Lechia Gdansk in Poland make are among the other players appearing at the Gold Cup for the first time.
In addition to Larin, other notable absences include MLS regulars Will Johnson and Tesho Akindele. Nik Ledgerwood, Marcus Haber and Simeon Jackson, who have played key roles for Canada in recent years, were also left off the roster.
Canada plays its first game of the tournament July 7 against French Guiana in Harrison, N.J.
Goal — Milan Borjan, MKS Korona Kielce (Poland); Maxime Crepeau, Montreal Impact; Jayson Leutwiler, Shrewsbury Town FC (England).
Defence — Samuel Adekugbe, Brighton & Hove Albion (England); Fraser Aird (Unattached); Marcel de Jong,Vancouver Whitecaps; Dejan Jakovic, New York Cosmos (NASL); Manjrekar James, Vasas Budapest (Hungary); Adam Straith, FC Edmonton; Steven Vitoria, Lechia Gdansk (Poland).
Midfield — Scott Arfield, Burnley FC (England); Patrice Bernier, Montreal Impact; Alphonso Davies, Vancouver Whitecaps; Raheem Edwards, Toronto FC; David (Junior) Hoilett, Cardiff City FC (Wales); Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Montreal Impact; Mark-Anthony Kaye, Louisville City FC (USL); Jonathan Osorio, Toronto FC; Michael Petrasso, Queen’s Park Rangers (England); Samuel Piette, CD Izarra (Spain); Russell Teibert, Vancouver Whitecaps.
Forward — Lucas Cavallini, CA Penarol (Uruguay); Tosaint Ricketts, Toronto FC (MLS).