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Canada U-17 World Cup pre-tournament squad heavy on MLS talent

Only two players named to Canada’s U-17 men’s national team squad do not play for a Major League Soccer academy.

Canada Soccer has called up 23 players to the Canada under-17 men’s national team squad for its last preparation camp ahead of the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil. The roster includes six players from the Vancouver Whitecaps academy, seven players from the Montreal Impact academy and eight players from the Toronto FC academy. 

Only two players on the roster are not part of a Major League Soccer academy program. Goalkeeper Marc Kouadio plays for Montverde Academy in Florida, and striker Aribim Pepple is presently on the books of Canadian Premier League side Cavalry FC. 

“We have a lot of work ahead of us, but to be in this position is exciting for what the future holds for Canada Soccer’s men’s national team program,” Andrew Olivieri, Canada Soccer’s men’s EXCEL U-14 to U-17 program director, said in a statement published on the Vancouver Whitecaps’ website

Canada will face Argentina and Mexico as part of the World Cup’s preparation in closed friendly matches. The coaching staff is then required to reduce the squad from the current 23 players to 21, three of whom must be goalkeepers. 

Although Canada will not be among the favorites, the players feel they can head to the tournament to compete. 

“The level of confidence is pretty good,” Whitecaps defender Gianfranco Facchineri said. “We have a good group of guys going in, and we’re confident and poised, and hopefully will do something that’s never been done at men’s Canadian national team World Cup. So we’re hoping to have a really good campaign.”

“It’s really good to have that confidence within the group saying, ‘OK, we’re actually going to go do something Canada has never done before,'” Whitecaps defender Nathan Demian said. “I don’t like to go into things just to play. I want to win; it’s how I’ve always been, from when I was young until now. And that’s not going to change when we go to Brazil.”

Canada will open the FIFA U-17 World Cup against hosts Brazil Saturday, Oct. 26, then face Angola Tuesday, Oct. 29, and New Zealand Friday, Nov. 1. All three games will be played at the Estádio Walmir Campelo Bezerra in Brasilia and will broadcast in Canada on TSN and RDS. 

Goalkeepers (3):
Benjamin Collins (Montreal Impact academy), Eleias Himaras (Toronto FC academy), Marc Kouadio (Montverde academy)
 
Defenders (7): 
Maxime Bourgeois (Montreal), Keesean Ferdinand (Montreal), Nathan Demian (Vancouver Whitecaps FC academy), Gianfranco Facchineri (Vancouver), Deylen Vellios (Vancouver) Kobe Franklin (Toronto), Rohan Goulbourne (Toronto)
 
Midfielders (7):
Julian Altobelli (Toronto), Deandre Kerr (Toronto), Ralph Priso-Mbongue (Toronto), Emiliano Brienza (Vancouver), Damiano Pecile (Vancouver), Matt Catavolo (Montreal), Tomas Giraldo (Montreal)
 
Forwards (6):
Aribim Pepple (Cavalry FC, Calgary), Kamron Habibullah (Vancouver) Jacen Russell-Rowe (Toronto), Jayden Nelson (Toronto), Mouhamadou Kane (Montreal), Sean Rea (Montreal)
 
How to watch group-stage games
 
Oct. 26 vs. Brazil — TSN and RDS 4 p.m. ET
 
Oct. 29 vs. Angola — TSN and RDS 7 p.m. ET
 
Nov. 1 vs. New Zealand — TSN and RDS 7 p.m. ET

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