International football can be awfully cruel, as players often have their reputation harmed by just one or two poor performances. On OneSoccer’s Player & Pundit show this week, Forge FC captain Kyle Bekker spoke about his entrance into the Canadian national team picture when poor performances were rife, partially during a winless 2013 calendar year. "We’ve always had talent, but for whatever reason, we could never figure that out," Bekker said of a floundering mid-2010s team. "If you look at those players, like Atiba Hutchinson, [we had the talent]. "It just felt we were always there. Now with the exciting talent coming up and we’ve shown signs of getting it right." Of course, as Bekker mentioned, Canada’s recent run of good form on the international stage makes it a little easier on young players who are making their international debuts – which makes you wonder if Bekker’s national team experience would be different if he was born in 1997. Let’s review some Canadians who had less-than-ideal runs with the senior men’s side this past decade – and how things could have been different. RELATED READING: Concacaf World Cup qualifying: Potential condensed formats to consider

It may surprise you to learn the former FC Edmonton winger amassed only ten caps for Canada, nine of which came between 2013 and 2015. Occupying Canada’s dead zone of the 2010s, Edwini-Bonsu never found a solid footing like many Canadian players at the time. Stephen Hart gave him his debut in 2010, at aged 20, when he was a member of the Vancouver Whitecaps. Subsequent moves to AC Oulu in Finland and Eintracht Braunschweig in Germany followed, but the caps didn't. Perhaps an earlier incorporation – especially with that explosive 2014 World Cup qualifying squad – would have led to a more impressive Canada career for the speedster.

Nana Attakora has put together quite a career for a Canadian: Toronto FC starter as a teenager, five-odd years as a starter at NASL/USL level, and an NASL Championship (alongside Kyle Bekker) in San Francisco. Still, the centre back has never had a consistent run with Les Rouges – save for the aforementioned deathtrap of a 2013 squad. Attakora only managed three caps across four seasons (2009-2012), which raises the question: as a day-in, day-out MLS player how was that even possible? Well, the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign certainly limited squad experimentation, but was Attakora that far behind in a defensive depth chart that featured Dejan Jakovic and Nik Ledgerwood? RELATED READING: THOMPSON: 5 CanMNT predictions for the 2020s

Having earned six caps while with Vancouver Whitecaps, the 24-year-old has yet to be called up to the current Canadian team, one with exponentially more attacking firepower than the rebuilding squads he featured for in 2016. You could argue Bustos, like many attackers of his style, needs quality around him to shine. Jonathan David, Alphonso Davies, and Junior Hoilett have a lock on starting spots, but they could also elevate Bustos if he was given another national team opportunity. Would a diminutive dribbler such as Bustos add a cutting edge to Canada’s attack? Is he worth another shot with this higher-level Canada? RELATED READING: What would a CanMNT Team of the Decade look like?

Voted MLS Rookie of the Year in 2014, the Calgary-born, Colorado-raised attacker delayed his international career as he decided between representing the U.S. or Canada. He jumped into Benito Floro’s Canadian side in 2015 and pulled together a 14-cap run over two years. But national team chances have dried up for Tesho, who has made just four appearances since then. Canada’s established core of young attackers has likely kept him out. Unfair, really, for arguably the best Canadian forward in MLS.

Another MLS stalwart, Edwards checks many national team boxes: versatility, familiarity with domestic players, and a good work rate. Club success has been there, too, most notably as a squad player in TFC’s MLS Cup run in 2017. With only four caps, you wonder if he’s undervalued by John Herdman – even when you consider how shallow Canada is at left fullback. His time could still come, though, as long as the 24-year-old Minnesota United signee remains playing at a high level.

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