June 23rd, 2024

No surprises as Jesse Marsch announces first selection as Canadian men’s soccer coach

By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on May 27, 2024.

Jesse Marsch announces his first team selection as Canada coach, for high-profile June friendlies against the seventh-ranked Netherlands and No. 2 France. Marsch looks on prior to the English Premier League soccer match between Nottingham Forest and Leeds United at City Ground stadium in Nottingham, England, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rui Vieira

Jesse Marsch’s first Canada selection for high-profile June friendlies against the Netherlands and France shows while you can change the coach, the talent at your disposal remains the same.

Marsch’s 26-man roster contains 20 of the 23 players called up by interim coach Mauro Biello for Canada’s last outing – a 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago in a Copa America playoff March 23 in Frisco, Texas.

The three players who have not carried over to Marsch’s squad are 22-year-old goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois and 28-year-old defender Joel Waterman (both of CF Montreal) and 21-year-old forward Jacen Russell-Rowe (Columbus Crew).

The additions are goalkeeper Thomas McGill, defenders Kyle Hiebert, Richie Laryea and Dominick Zator and midfielders Charles-Andreas Brym and Junior Hoilett.

Laryea, a 48-cap veteran who missed the March game after undergoing hamstring surgery, is expected to return to action this week with Toronto FC. The 33-year-old Hoilett, who played most recently for Scotland’s Aberdeen, has already won 62 caps for Canada and captained the side.

Other familiar names include Tajon Buchanan, Jonathan David, Alphonso Davies, Stephen Eustáquio, Alistair Johnston, Jonathan Osorio and Samuel Piette, among others.

As with the March roster, there is no place for veteran goalkeeper Milan Borjan, defender Steven Vitoria, midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye and forward Lucas Cavallini.

Goalkeeper Grégoire Swiderski, who plays for Girondins de Bordeaux’s B team in France, will join the Canadian camp as a training player.

“I am extremely excited to get these players into camp together,” Marsch said in a statement. “I have had many discussions with the players over the last weeks and it is clear that we have an exceptional group of men playing for this country.

“Now the work gets started for us all to come together to become the team that we know this country deserves.”

Marsch was named Canada coach on May 13.

The 50-year-old American’s coaching resume includes Leeds United, RB Leipzig, Red Bull Salzburg, New York Red Bulls and the Montreal Impact (now CF Montreal). His last job was at Leeds, which fired him in February 2023 after a year in charge.

Biello, an assistant coach, had been in charge since John Herdman stepped down last August to take over Toronto FC.

Canada, ranked 49th in the world, plays the seventh-ranked Netherlands on June 6 in Rotterdam and No. 2 France on June 9 in Bordeaux.

The Canadian players are due to gather in Rotterdam on June 3.

The fixtures mark Canada’s highest-ranked opponents since the 2022 World Cup when the Canadian men lost 1-0 to second-ranked Belgium.

The games are preparation for Canada’s campaign at Copa America, where it will face top-ranked and World Cup champion Argentina, No. 32 Peru and No. 42 Chile in Group A play. Canada is one of six CONCACAF guest teams at the 16-team tournament that runs June 20 to July 14 across the U.S.

The Netherlands and France are prepping for Euro 2024, which kicks off June 14 in Germany. The Dutch and French have been drawn in Group D with No. 28 Poland and No. 25 Austria.

The Canada roster draws on 10 players from Major League Soccer including CF Montreal’s Mathieu Choiniere and Piette and Toronto’s Osorio. The rest play in Europe.

Canada has played the Netherlands just once before, with the Dutch winning 3-0 at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium in June 1994 in the run-up to the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the U.S. Frank Rijkaard, Marc Overmars and Dennis Bergman scored that day.

The Dutch went on to make the ’94 World Cup quarterfinals, losing to eventual champion Brazil.

The Dutch have qualified for 11 editions of the FIFA World Cup, finishing as runner-up in 1974 (to West Germany), 1978 (Argentina) and 2010 (to Spain). They made it to the quarterfinals in 2022 in Qatar, losing to Argentina in a penalty shootout

The Canadian men have faced France just once before, in their first-ever game at the FIFA World Cup in 1986 in Mexico. A star-studded French side needed a 79th-minute goal by Jean-Pierre Papin to win 1-0.

France won the World Cup in 1998 and 2018 and finished runner-up in 2006 and 2022 in 16 tournament appearances.

Canada was forced into the March Copa America playoff by losing – on the away goals rule – to Jamaica after their two-legged CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinal finished tied at 4-4 in November.

Canada Soccer says Marsch is set to finalize the rest of his team staff this week.

CANADA (x- denotes training player)

Goalkeepers: Maxime Crépeau, Portland Timbers (MLS); Thomas McGill, Brighton and Hove Albion (England); Dayne St. Clair, Minnesota United (MLS) l x-Grégoire Swiderski, Girondins de Bordeaux B (France).

Defenders: Moïse Bombito, Colorado Rapids (MLS); Derek Cornelius, Malmö FF (Sweden); Alphonso Davies, Bayern Munich (Germany); Luc de Fougerolles, Fulham (England); Kyle Hiebert, St. Louis City SC (MLS); Alistair Johnston, Celtic (Scotland); Richie Laryea, Toronto FC (MLS); Kamal Miller, Portland Timbers (MLS); Dominick Zator, Korona Kielce (Poland).

Midfielders: Charles-Andreas Brym, Sparta Rotterdam (the Netherlands); Tajon Buchanan, Inter Milan (Italy); Mathieu Choinière, CF Montréal (MLS); Stephen Eustáquio, FC Porto (Portugal); Junior Hoilett, Aberdeen (Scotland); Ismaël Koné, Watford (England); Jonathan Osorio, Toronto FC (MLS); Liam Millar, FC Basel (Switzerland); Samuel Piette, CF Montréal (MLS); Jacob Shaffelburg, Nashville SC (MLS).

Forwards: Thelonius Bair, Motherwell (Scotland); Jonathan David, LOSC Lille (France); Cyle Larin, RCD Mallorca (Spain); Iké Ugbo, ESTAC Troyes (France).

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2024

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