Last Friday marked another milestone for the Canadian Premier League, as Forge FC's Tristan Borges became the fourth CPL player to be called up to the Canadian men's team. Borges was one of three CPLers to make John Herdman's 26-man roster, alongside Cavalry FC goalkeeper Marco Carducci and FC Edmonton defender Amer Didic, for Canada’s international friendlies vs. Barbados on Jan. 7 and 10, and Iceland on Jan. 15 in Irvine, California. This was the first time that three players from the CPL were named to the Canadian team at the same time, offering further proof of the league's amazing growth since it launched last April. Still, there is this lingering feeling that Herdman could have used this opportunity to call up a few more CPLers to round out his roster for this series of games. Which CPL players should have been included in this latest Canadian roster? The team weigh in with their picks. RELATED READING: Canadian soccer in 2019: A year in review || CPL in 2019: A team-by-team, year-end review
Bedakian: Dominick Zator, Cavalry FC

Amer Didic of FC Edmonton once again got the nod for John Herdman's defensive ranks, but Dominick Zator of Cavalry FC was strangely left at home, with Midtjylland's seemingly-exiled defender Manjrekar James making his triumphant return in Zator's stead. Fair enough, as this team seems to be made up of players that Herdman wants to take a first, second, or third look at, which explains newcomers Tristan Borges and Zorhan Bassong, among others. But, Zator's absence seems odd in the context that this current team features so many players who haven't actually suited up for Canada yet. Zator's versatility and abilities have been more than examined and broken down here on – clearly, he's fit for the task, too, having earned a call-up last time around – so his omission seems to either be in response to his first camp, or, more likely, a matter of wanting to see new faces while keeping enough experience to give Canada a fighting chance against Barbados and Iceland. Still, no fret here; we expect Zator to challenge the likes of Marcus Godinho and Richie Laryea for a spot when Cavalry kicks off their 2020 campaign, and throughout the year, as such.
O'Connor-Clarke: Terran Campbell, Pacific FC

If there's one place in this January squad Canada could use a little more young talent, it's at centre-forward. With Tosaint Ricketts and Tesho Akindele the out-and-out strikers at this camp, there'd certainly be room for someone like Campbell to get some minutes. After a breakout year with Pacific FC, with 11 goals as a 20-year-old, Campbell might've earned himself a look from the national team. Of course, up front is where most of Canada's depth is, but at this particular juncture they're a little thinner. If this camp is all about giving opportunities to young players who might not otherwise get one, Campbell would fit that bill. Campbell was one of the three players nominated for the CPL's Young Canadian Player of the Year award, and deservedly so. He'd be quite a useful striker for Canada in this camp, especially if they wanted to save Ricketts' bursts of pace for late in the game. Plus, wouldn't it be something to see Campbell link up with Tristan Borges? Those two bright lights of attacking talent in the CPL went toe-to-toe in 2019, but to see them play together would be a lot of fun, especially at the international level.
Thompson: Easton Ongaro, FC Edmonton

This is the time to look ahead. Truth is, just with Terran Campbell above, this is likely the last chance to get a young Canadian in a proper senior camp ahead of the under-23 Olympic qualifying tournament this March. Why wouldn’t you earmark a spot for a player that will absolutely be there? Enter the oversized body of Easton Ongaro. The 21-year-old has all the physical acumen you could want in a young striker. His six-foot-six frame is waiting to be melded into whatever the national team wants. You would think Herdman and co. would see this as a chance to influence a prospect with some key matches ahead. Now, some will see this as a "wasted spot" as I doubt he would even play against Barbados or Iceland. But there should be a priority on this Olympic camp and giving young CPLers an upward trajectory. Prepare these players for the platform. If they succeed, who knows, they could be on the senior team in time for World Cup qualifying this summer.
Molinaro: Diyaeddine Abzi, York9 FC

Considering Canada's lack of defensive depth, especially at the left fullback position, the omission of Diyaeddine Abzi for this particular national team training camp is a little puzzling. This 12-day camp in California, which includes a trio of friendlies, would have been a great opportunity to give Abzi, still only 21, his introduction into the national team set-up, allowing him to get a taste of what he should expect in order to earn regular Canadian call-ups. Abzi is coming off a solid 2019 season, his first as a professional after spending time with A.S. Blainville in the PLSQ, in which he established himself as one of the league's top fullbacks and brightest prospects. He made 24 appearances during the regular season (21 as a starter), and he proved to be one of York9's most consistent performers during the campaign. He ranked in the top 10 per cent of CPL defenders in several key "per 90 minutes" passing and defending categories, including key passes, line-breaking passes, interceptions, blocked shots, and successful passes. It's little wonder Abzi, a technical fullback with great speed and solid defensive ability, was a nominee for Best Canadian Under-21 of the Year. Camps such as this one are the perfect chance for coaching staffs to bring in a young player who they are unsure about and take a look to see how he'd fit in with the team, both on and off the field. Even if Abzi didn't see action against Barbados and Iceland, Herdman could get a clear sense of what the Y9 youngster could offer Canada. Herdman is always looking to expand the national team player pool, and while he has called in several other newcomers, Abzi should have been included in his expanded, 26-man roster for this camp.

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