John Herdman has summoned a blend of experience and youth for his first match at the helm of the Canadian men’s soccer team.
The Canadians, currently ranked 89th in the world, play No. 121 New Zealand in Murcia, Spain, on March 24, which falls on one of FIFA’s international windows.
Experience comes in the form of Atiba Hutchinson, Milan Borjan, Dejan Jakovic, Samuel Piette and Tosaint Ricketts, who account for 249 of the 419 caps spread among the 22 players.
The roster also includes three newcomers to the senior squad: 20-year-old centre back Derek Cornelius (FK Javor Ivanjica, Serbia), 20-year-old fullback Marcus Godinho (Hearts, Scotland), and 18-year-old winger Liam Millar (Liverpool, England).
All three have come through the Canada Soccer youth program.
Also included are midfielders Scott Arfield (Burnley FC) and Jonathan Osorio (Toronto FC) and striker Cyle Larin, who plays with Hutchinson at Turkey’s Besiktas.
Defender David Edgar returns to the national team for the first time since November 2016 after having missed the 2017 season through injury.
MLS clubs well-represented
There are 10 MLS players in the 22-man squad with Osorio, Jay Chapman, Ashtone Morgan and Tosaint Ricketts representing Toronto FC. Michael Petrasso, Raheem Edwards and Samuel Piette come from the Montreal Impact and Dejan Jakovic and Mark-Anthony Kaye from Los Angeles FC and Tesho Akindele from FC Dallas.
Toronto and Montreal do not play that weekend.
The team will take part in a one-week camp before the New Zealand game.
It’s Herdman’s first on-field time with the men since shifting over from the women’s program in early January.
Herdman’s squad features 10 players who were picked by former coach Octavio Zambrano for Canada’s last outing, a 1-0 loss to El Salvador in Houston last October.
Fourteen members of the new roster were part of Canada’s 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup team.
The New Zealand match is the first of the year for the Canadian men, who will face the U.S. Virgin Islands in September, Dominica in October and St. Kitts & Nevis in November in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying play.
Canadian men’s roster
Goalkeepers: Milan Borjan, Red Star Belgrade (Serbia); Jayson Leutwiler, Blackburn Rovers (England); Simon Thomas, FK Bodo/Glimt (Norway)
Defenders: Derek Cornelius, FK Javor Ivanjica (Serbia), David Edgar, unattached; Dejan Jakovic, Los Angeles FC (MLS); Manjrekar James, Vasas Budapest (Hungary); Samuel Adekugbe, Valerenga Fotball (Norway); Marcus Godinho, Hearts (Scotland); Ashtone Morgan, Toronto FC (MLS); Michael Petrasso, Montreal Impact (MLS)
Midfielders: Tesho Akindele, FC Dallas (MLS); Scott Arfield, Burnley (England); Jay Chapman, Toronto FC (MLS); Raheem Edwards, Montreal Impact (MLS); Atiba Hutchinson, Besiktas (Turkey); Mark-Anthony Kaye, Los Angeles FC (MLS); Liam Millar, Liverpool FC (England); Jonathan Osorio, Toronto FC (MLS); Samuel Piette, Montreal Impact (MLS)
Forwards: Cyle Larin, Besiktas (Turkey); Tosaint Ricketts, Toronto FC (MLS)