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2 Montréalais Join National Team Quest Against Honduras

The most competitive Canadian team in a decade, in the hardest matches in years, playing against the toughest opposition Canada has ever faced.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

On November 13th, two days from now, Canada will open the 2018 World Cup qualification process in earnest. While the team has played (and won) games against Belize and Dominica in CONCACAF qualifying, it is Honduras that will always hold a place in Canadian soccer lore as the opposition where dreams go to die.

The Situation

Canada was defeated in our last attempt at World Cup qualification 8-1 by Honduras. The memory haunts many Canadian fans to this day.

However, a new Canadian squad has arisen, with new faces, new legs and a renewed confidence after winning a series of qualifying matches, and earning an important draw against African powerhouse Ghana. This new squad will feature a host of Impact players, as well as a smattering of local talent from nearby Ottawa (le Fury d'Ottawa FC) and Québécois who ply their trade in Europe.

I don't think I am understating anything when I say that this is the most competent team Canada has fielded in a decade.

The Keepers

GK- Simon Thomas | NOR / Strømmen IF

GK- Milan Borjan | BUL / PFK Ludogorets Razgrad

GK- Kenny Stamatopoulos | SWE / AIK Fotbol

Personally, I have nothing against any of these players. While none are ‘elite' calibre keepers, they are all experienced journeymen who do their clubs proud, and will certainly help Canada in its quest to qualify for the World Cup. I do not think I am alone in hoping that Maxime Crépeau is one day starting on the senior team. His addition will offer a local alternative to CONCACAF matches.

The Defense

Wandrille Lefèvre | CAN / Impact Montréal

Karl W. Ouimette | USA / New York Red Bulls

Fraser Aird | SCO / Glasgow Rangers FC

Samuel Adekugbe | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC

André Hainault | GER / 1. FC Magdeburg (potentially injured)

David Edgar | ENG / Sheffield United

Dejan Jaković | JPN / Shimizu S-Pulse

Marcel De Jong | USA / Sporting Kansas City

First, I'm happy to see so many Impact Academy products on the roster of the national team. Karl Ouimette especially has developed into the kind of centreback we all knew and hoped he would. He had a very impressive year with New York, and I cannot wait to see him bring that intensity to Honduras and El Salvador. The same statement applies to Lefèvre, who has been studying and playing under the tutelage of Laurent Ciman. One noticeable absence however is Maxim Tissot, who could anchor the left flank of defense and provide offensive depth, especially if experienced journeyman André Hainault is injured, as is rumoured. Fraser Aird recently joined the Canadian squad, and will look to solidify his place in the starting XI, providing much needed experience on the back line, or in midfield.

The Midfield

Tosaint Ricketts | TUR / Boluspor FC

Atiba Hutchinson | TUR / Beşiktaş JK

Julian de Guzman | CAN / Ottawa Fury FC (Captain)

Russell Teibert | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Will Johnson | USA / Portland Timbers

David Hoilett | ENG / Queens Park Rangers

Samuel Piette | ESP / Deportivo La Coruña

Adam Straith | NOR / Fredrikstad FK

Kianz Froese | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Tesho Akindele | USA / FC Dallas

The middle of the pitch is the strongest asset for the national team. Anchored by stalwarts like Québec born Samuel Piette, and captain Julian de Guzman, and aided by skilled attackers like Johnson, Hoilett and Hutchinson Canada has the ability to outposess nearly anyone in CONCACAF. Add to this lineup 2014 MLS rookie of the year Tesho Akindele, and Canada is truly fielding its first ‘elite' midfield.My only criticism is that our midfield can be susceptible to a counter attack when numbers move forward too fast. The only midfielder who is purely defensive minded is Piette, and he usually is the only one left screening the defense when things go rough. He'll need help if we are to avoid another Honduran disaster. This group is more than capable, and I'm certain they'll figure it out.

The Forwards

Cyle Larin | USA / Orlando City SC

Lucas Cavallini | URU / CA Fénix (potentially injured)

If Canada's midfield could be described as ‘elite' our attack could be described as ‘work in progress'. Cavallini is a fantastic player, and has been doing exceptionally well in the Uruguayan first division, however he is rumoured to be injured for the upcoming qualification, meaning Canada might have to call on an older player. If Benito Floro is reading, Patrice Bernier and Olivier Occéan are both looking for a call up last I checked (along with Edmonton attacking midfielder Hanson Boakai). However, the unknown quantity is MLS 2015 rookie of the year Cyle Larin. He has had an impressive season, scoring more goals than many rookies will in a career. However, he is young and quite inexperienced on the national team. He also will have guys like Akindele playing behind him rather than Brazilian legend Kaka. He is good enough to become an elite goalscorer one day. Let's give him the space to do it.

The Coach

Benito Floro | CAN / Canadian National Team

Floro is an enigma to me. I don't know enough about Spanish soccer to care about his past, and I'm so enthralled in the fact that two Canadian coaches are among the best in North America right now (Marc Dos Santos in the NASL and Mauro Biello in the MLS) to bother reading about it. Looking at the last 2 years, he's coached Canada to a win against Jamaica and a draw against Ghana, as well as some small victories against CONCACAF minnows like Dominica. He has also had a smattering of sobering losses in there as well. I don't know what to expect.

The Game

November 13th in Vancouver (broadcast on TSN/RDS TBD) at BC Place against Honduras.

November 17th in El Salvador (broadcast TBD) in San Salvador against their national team.

Seriously, this is the most competitive the Canadian team has been in at least a decade. Anyone who cares about l'Impact de Montréal, FC Montréal or le Fury d'Ottawa knows that the future of our homegrown players lies with their ability to succeed internationally. We should all care about these games.

This is the year that ‘Soccer has arrived' in Canada. Trophies and record crowds came to Ottawa, Montréal brought us into the Champions League spotlight and Vancouver won its first Voyageurs Cup. If there was any year that the national team could make history, it's this one.

Edit: Due to injuries stated above Manjrekar James | HUN / Diósgyőri and Marcus Haber | ENG / Crewe Alexandra have been called up into the positions of defender and forward respectively.