Hutchinson, Canada eager to face Jamaica in friendly Saturday

Atiba Hutchinson(pictured) is shown practicing his shooting at a Canada training session on September 1, 2017, in Toronto. (Photo: Canada Soccer)

TORONTO – In July, Canada advanced beyond the group stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the first time since 2009.

It did so without veteran Atiba Hutchinson, who focused on injury recovery after capturing a second straight Turkish Süper Lig title with Besiktas.

The 34-year-old, however, is back with Les Rouges, earning a call-up for Saturday’s international friendly against Gold Cup runner-up Jamaica at BMO Field.  He is excited to return to a side that has been on an upward trajectory since Octavio Zambrano was named head coach in March.

“It is nice to be back with the guys and just see how the team has been going,” said Hutchinson.  “We are starting to win games and we need to get comfortable doing that and believing that we can do it.  We want to be ready from the start and put in a good performance.”

The 77-time capped midfielder is one of eight players added to the squad after the successful Gold Cup campaign that yielded an overall record of 1W-2D-1L.

“We want our players to continue to get good minutes with their clubs so they come to the men’s national team in true form,” Zambrano commented.  “As we look ahead to 2018 and beyond, we want to see guys that will compete together for Canada towards future FIFA World Cups.”

Canada (5W-2D-4L in 2017) and Jamaica met in the Gold Cup quarterfinals on July 20, a 2-1 win for the Caribbean power.

NOTES: Hutchinson’s last appearance for Canada came in a 3-1 World Cup Qualifying win over visiting El Salvador on September 6, 2016.