FC Edmonton defender Amer Didic is the latest Canadian Premier League player to break through with Canada’s national team. On Tuesday, Didic was named to coach John Herdman’s 23-man roster for Canada’s CONCACAF Nations League match vs. the United States on Oct. 15 at BMO Field. Didic, 24, becomes the second CPL player to earn a Canadian national team call-up. Last month, Cavalry FC goalkeeper Marco Carducci was named to Canada’s squad for a pair of Nations League games against Cuba. A six-foot-four centre back who came to Canada while still an infant with his family as they left what would become Bosnia and Herzegovina, Didic has established himself as one of the best defenders in the CPL with his hometown club in 2019, earning plaudits for his steady play and consistency. He previously represented Canada at the under-23 level, and he received a call-up to the senior team for a friendly against Jamaica in 2017, but he didn’t play. RELATED READING: ‘An excellent future’: Amer Didic’s journey home to FC Edmonton "Representing your country, I did it with the U-23s, that first game, there’s such a sense of pride, knowing that you’re out there with a select group of people in Canada for your age. And, yeah, your goal is to always represent the nation, especially for my family because of the situation coming to this country, with Canada being our new home. It’s that type of pride that my family and I share. It’s definitely something I plan on achieving one day, but you can’t think too much about it," Didic told CanPL.ca in a recent interview. After playing U.S. collegiate soccer at Baker University, Didic joined United Soccer League side Swope Park Rangers in 2016. The following year he signed with Sporting Kansas City, but he never saw action with the MLS club, and he landed with San Antonio FC in the USL in 2018. Didic signed with FC Edmonton this past April, just before the start of the CPL season. FC Edmonton coach Jeff Paulus recently told CanPL.ca that he thought it was a "no-brainer" that Didic would one day be on the Canadian team’s back line. "This is a player, to me he’s the modern centre half. He’s six-foot-four, he does not get beat in aerial challenges. He’s dominant in the air in one-v-one duels. But he can get the ball on the ground and I’ve not seen a player who’s a central defender in the NASL or the CPL that can ping a diagonal ball like Amer Didic," Paulus said.
1st place on the line vs. U.S.

Canada currently tops Group A with six points, ahead of pointless Cuba (two losses) and the U.S. (who have yet to play). After squaring off at BMO Field, Canada and the U.S. will meet on Nov. 15 in Orlando, so this home-and-home series will likely determine who wins Group A and advances to next summer’s Nations League finals. Beating the U.S. is also very important for Canada (ranked No. 75 in the world) if it’s going to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Under new rules, the top six teams in CONCACAF, based on the FIFA world rankings in June 2020, move on to "the Hex," the final round of qualifiers for the region. The top three nations in "the Hex" then qualify for the World Cup in Qatar. RELATED READING: ‘Will other CPL players be called up?’: Herdman weighs in ahead of U.S. match Canada currently sits seventh in the CONCACAF region, behind Mexico (No. 12), the U.S (21), Costa Rica (43), Jamaica (47), Honduras (67) an El Salvador (72). In order to crack the top six by next June and advance to "the Hex," Canada has to win games like the ones against the U.S. in order to pick up valuable ranking points and move up the FIFA ladder. Should Canada not make "the Hex," it would be forced to compete in a secondary CONCACAF qualifying competition, with the ultimate winner then facing the fourth-place finisher from "the Hex" in a two-game series. The winner of that would then have to play a home-and home playoff against a nation from outside CONCACAF with a World Cup berth at stake. If Canada stands any chance of qualifying for next summer’s Nations League finals, it’ll have to take points off the Americans in this two-game set. That’s easier said than done, considering the history between these teams, but Herdman believes Canadian fans can play a role in helping them put one over on the Americans at BMO Field. "The U.S., if you look at our track record, it’s 1985 since we beat this team. And yeah, we’ve got talent, but we’ve had talent in previous teams as well. We’ve come close, but I think the fans could make that bit of difference," Herdman said. The Canadian men’s team is unbeaten in 15 games (with 10 wins) at BMO Field, a run that dates back to 2011.

Goalkeepers: Milan Borjan (Red Star Belgrade), Maxime Crépeau (Vancouver Whitecaps) and Jayson Leutwiler (Blackburn Rovers) Defenders: Derek Cornelius (Vancouver Whitecaps), Amer Didic (FC Edmonton), Doneil Henry (Vancouver Whitecaps), Steven Vitória (Moreirense FC), Samuel Adekugbe (Vålerenga Fotball), Juan Córdova (CD Huachipato), Richie Laryea (Toronto FC) and Kamal Miller (Orlando City) Midfielder: Scott Arfield (Glasgow Rangers), Stephen Eustáquio (Cruz Azul), Will Johnson (Orlando City), Mark-Anthony Kaye (Los Angeles FC), Jonathan Osorio (Toronto FC), Samuel Piette (Montreal Impact) and Russell Teibert (Vancouver Whitecaps) Forwards: Lucas Cavallini (Puebla FC), Jonathan David (KAA Gent), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich), Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City) and Liam Millar (Kilmarnock FC)

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