Two of the top prospects in Canadian soccer will be making their international debuts during the second leg of FIFA World Cup qualifiers in October.
Rookie Toronto FC defender Ashtone Morgan and Joseph Di Chiara of the Russian club FC Krylia Sovetov Samara will inject some youth into Canada’s roster.
Morgan, a 20-year-old Toronto native, made his professional debut last October during a TFC CONCACAF Champions League match against Panama’s Arabe Unido, and has been playing with the senior club the entire season.
Canada’s coach Stephen Hart is interested in what the young defenceman can bring to the table, and hopes to see an immediate impact.
“He’s been playing consistently for TFC and I thought it was a good time seeing that we need some sort of [depth] at that position to bring him in, give him the experience of being with the [national team] and seeing what we are about,” Hart told reporters during a conference call.
“His game shows a maturity where he potentially could step into the team or else I would not have brought him in.”
Di Chiara, from Thornhill, Ont., is looked at as more of a project and could be the youngest player to suit up for Canada in a World Cup qualifier since 2004.
The 19-year-old midfielder recently made his debut with the first-team of his Russian club, but Hart had little else to go on.
“He looks composed and technically sound,” said Hart to TSN. “He keeps the ball moving through the midfield.
“I think we can bring him into the camp for these games and take a close look at him.”
Morgan joined by teammates
Morgan’s Toronto FC teammates Terry Dunfield and Julian de Guzman were also named to the 18-man roster.
Dunfield has only appeared in seven caps for the national team while de Guzman is one of the more experienced players with 49 games under his belt.
Returning midfielder Dwayne De Rosario will be the most experienced player on the field, having appeared in 62 international matches.
De Rosario is the team leader in international goals scored with 18, one shy of the Canadian all-time mark set by Dale Mitchell.
Strong play up to this point
Canada, which is in a group alongside St. Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico, and St. Lucia, leads the way with six points.
The Canadians beat St. Lucia 4-1 on Sept. 2 in Toronto, and then four days later defeated Puerto Rico 3-0 on its opponent’s home turf.
Despite Canada’s success, Hart still wants the team to keep its focus, preaching a more tactical approach.
“We have to realize the game is played over 90 minutes,” Hart told the CBCSports.ca. “We have to show a little more patience when we play and we have to be very aware and very solid at the back, and how we recover the ball.”
Canada hopes the new players will give the team a boost when it visits St. Lucia Oct. 7, followed by a contest against Puerto Rico Oct. 11 at BMO Field.