As he did for the first match of 2011, Canadian national team coach Stephen Hart called in a mix of veterans and fresh faces for a friendly against Belarus at the end of the month.
Hart continues to expand his player pool ahead of this summer’s Gold Cup, leaving behind a number of well-known regulars in favor of a few players who have yet to earn a consistent spot on the roster.
The squad is heavy on players from European clubs, with only Real Salt Lake’s Will Johnson and Andre Hainault of Houston making the trek from North America. National team stalwarts Dwayne De Rosario, Julian de Guzman, Adrian Cann, Ante Jazic and Dejan Jakovic will remain with their MLS teams.
Veterans such as Atiba Hutchinson and Kevin McKenna will be relied upon to lead a side that is peppered with youth and a relative lack of experience at the international level. Adam Straith and Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault are — at 20 and 22 years old, respectively — the youngsters of a team that has five players with five senior caps or less.
On the other end of the spectrum, long-time Canada servant Paul Stalteri looks to make his 85th appearance for the national team.
Canada play Belarus in Antalya, Turkey on March 29. The match is Canada’s second friendly of the year, with the first being a 1-0 loss to hosts Greece in February.
GOALKEEPERS (2): Lars Hirschfeld (Valerenga), Milan Borjan (FK Rad)
DEFENDERS (7): Jaime Peters (Ipswich Town), Kevin McKenna (FC Köln), André Hainault (Houston Dynamo), Paul Stalteri (Borussia Monchengladbach), Adam Straith (Energie Cottbus), David Edgar (Burnley), Nik Ledgerwood (SV Wehen Wiesbaden)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Mike Klukowski (MKE Ankaragücü), Pedro Pacheco (CD Santa Clara), Will Johnson (Real Salt Lake), Simeon Jackson (Norwich City), Josh Simpson (Manisaspor), Atiba Hutchinson (PSV Eindhoven), Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault (SC Preußen Münster)
FORWARDS (2): Rob Friend (Hertha BSC), Tosaint Ricketts (FC Politehnica Timosoara)