Michael Petrasso (pictured) has represented Canada from the under-17 level to the senior squad. (Photo: Mexsport)
ROHRBACH AN DER LAFNITZ, Austria -- It wasn’t the result that he would have liked, but Canada’s Michael Petrasso still felt honored to see the field for the first time at the senior level for his country.
Petrasso, a winger edging closer to seeing regular minutes with London’s Queens Park Rangers, has played at every youth international level for Canada. He finally made his first international appearance in a 1-1 draw with Azerbaijan on Friday, starting and going 62 minutes before being replaced by club teammate Junior Hoilett.
“Playing my first game was a good experience,” said Petrasso. “I’m delighted to get my first cap for the men’s team. I’ve been waiting patiently for it and playing out there was a good experience with the senior boys.”
The Canadians will face Uzbekistan in Bad Waltersdorf on June 7 as they continue preparations for decisive World Cup qualifiers against Honduras (September 2, away) and El Salvador (September 6, home), so everything here will continue to be seen as a work in progress.
Benito Floro’s camps are heavy on tactics. The Canadians looked good for long periods of time in the meeting with Azerbaijan; strong in possession and probing for openings in the setting of a rural Austrian stadium.
Having played at a CONCACAF Under-17 Championship (2011), two CONCACAF U-20 Championships (2013, 2015), as well as an Olympic Qualifying Championship (2015), it’s been a natural progression for the skilled Petrasso. The 20-year-old is hoping strong performances here will lead to a call-up in important matches.
“I’ve learned a lot and in this game, we just want to work on our tactics,” said Petrasso. “I got in a couple of crosses and did my job defensively, so hopefully the coaches will see that.”
In the fourth round of CONCACAF qualifying for Russia 2018, Canada currently sits in third place on goal difference behind second-place Honduras and table-topping Mexico, which has already wrapped up first place in Group A.