Midfielder Julian de Guzman (pictured) has earned 86 caps for Canada. (Photo: Mexsport)
OTTAWA – Canada midfielder Julian de Guzman hopes that March 25 ends up being a day that he remembers more than it just as the one on which he celebrated his 35th birthday and was honored for having set a team record with 86 caps.
The soon-to-be 35-year-old is looking at a much larger picture. His wish is that the date proves to be a turning point for the entire men’s national team program.
On that evening, de Guzman wants Canada to defeat visiting Mexico in a fourth-round qualifier for the 2018 FIFA World Cup at BC Place in Vancouver, where the attendance could exceed 50,000.
“It’s of great importance for the future of Canadian soccer,” de Guzman said after Canada announced its roster for the game on Friday. “This is a real opportunity for ourselves to prove our worth. For the years Benito Floro’s been around. He’s been able to create a very solid team, tactically.”
Canada impressed with four points from its opening two games in November against Honduras (1-0 home win) and El Salvador (0-0 away draw), and is hoping that a potentially large crowd will offer boisterous support for the home team.
Les Rouges’ ranks have been bolstered by the inclusion of yet another quality player as Scottish-born Scott Arfield was named to the squad. Arfield plays with Burnley FC of the English Championship and qualifies for citizenship due to his Canadian-born father.
Adding another quality player will only add to Canada’s overall depth, which has historically been an area of concern.
“I’ve seen bits and pieces of highlights,” de Guzman said of his new teammate. “It’s just great to see guys finally commit to the national team. (Steven) Vitoria, (Junior) Hoilett and now him. To have these type of quality players, it definitely strengthens the team going forward.”
GOALKEEPERS: Milan Borjan (Ludogorets Razgrad/Bulgaria), Kenny Stamatopoulos (AIK/Sweden), Simon Thomas (Bodo/Glimt/Norway)
DEFENDERS: Marcel de Jong (Ottawa Fury FC), David Edgar (Sheffield United/England), Doneil Henry (West Ham United/England), Dejan Jakovic (Shimizu S-Pulse/Japan), Manjrekar James (Dyosgyor/Hungary), Steven Vitoria (Benfica/Portugal), Nik Ledgerwood (FC Edmonton), Karl Ouimette (New York Red Bulls/USA)
MIDFIELDERS: Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas/USA), Julian de Guzman (Ottawa Fury FC), Atiba Hutchinson (Besiktas/Turkey), Will Johnson (Toronto FC), Samuel Piette (Deportivo la Coruña/Spain), Adam Straith (Fredrikstad/Norway),
FORWARDS: Marcus Haber (Crewe Alexandra/England), Junior Hoilett (Queens Park Rangers/England), Iain Hume (SD Ponferradina/Spain), Cyle Larin (Orlando City SC/USA), Tosaint Ricketts (no club), Scott Arfield (Burnley FC/England)