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Canada sees opportunity in 2016 opener at U.S.
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Canada midfielder Julian de Guzman (pictured) stretches during a national team training session on February 3, 2016, in Carson, California, USA. (Photo courtesy of Canada Soccer)

CARSON, California -- Canada will visit the United States on Friday hoping to launch its 2016 schedule much in the same way the Americans did in a 3-2 win over Iceland on January 31.

With a pair of World Cup qualifiers against Mexico next month, starting off on the right foot at the StubHub Center would be encouraging.

“You couldn’t ask for a better team to play against and this is a typical CONCACAF team you’ll come up against to make the final six or even the World Cup,” Canada captain Julian de Guzman said after training on Thursday. “It’s just a matter of us being able to come together as a team and being able to build. There have been a lot of positives up until now and it’s a great chance to test ourselves.”

Even though there’s been strong infusion of veteran presence in the Canadian camp with the likes of de Guzman, Will Johnson and Adam Straith involved, the game falls outside of the FIFA calendar. As a result, many regulars are missing, but younger and untested international talents are getting extended opportunities to impress head coach Benito Flores.

“Every day, every camp for us is a preparation for the next official games,” said the 63-year-old Spaniard, whose side is unbeaten in its last six games. “We’ve focused on working, on doing our flat back four correctly and fixing some mistakes with the pressing and, finally, our attacking moves.”

Increasing roster depth has been a key objective since Floro came on board in 2013. A good showing against the U.S. could help some, such as midfielder Kianz Froese (19) and defender Samuel Adekugbe (21), make a case for WCQ inclusion.

“Who knows? They may get their call-up against Mexico,” finished de Guzman. “So as long as they’re ready and understand what they’re up against and what they’re dealing with, they have that type of sharpness coming into those camps.”

 
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