TORONTO — Midfielder Samuel Piette, who has won 19 caps for the Canadian senior men’s team, leads Benito Floro’s 20-man roster for next month’s CONCACAF men’s Olympic qualifying tournament.
The 20-year-old Piette, a terrier-like player with the occasional man-bun, is on the books of Spain’s Deportivo La Coruna but is currently on loan to second-division side Racing Ferrol.
Others on the roster who have won senior caps are Vancouver Whitecaps Caleb Clarke (two) and Jackson Farmer (one), Toronto FC’s Chris Mannella (three) and Quillan Roberts (one), and Montreal’s Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare (five games).
Eight others have dressed for the senior side but not seen action.
“The Olympics come along once every four years, so it is very important for the players and countries,” Floro, who coaches both the senior and under-23 sides, said in a statement. “We have a good group of players and we are going to work hard to achieve a spot in Brazil.”
Canada has not sent a men’s soccer team to the Olympics since 1984, falling one win short of qualifying for London last time out after losing 3-1 to Mexico in the CONCACAF semifinals..
The confederation covering North and Central America and the Caribbean will send two teams to the 16-country Olympic field in Rio de Janeiro. The third-place finisher at the CONCACAF tournament will face CONMEBOL runner-up Colombia to see who joins them.
Several players were unavailable for the tournament and weeklong camp starting Monday in Alliston, Ont., north of Toronto.
West Ham defender Doneil Henry is injured.
Manjrekar James, who plays his club soccer in Hungary, and Vancouver’s Kianz Froese and Sam Adekugbe were unavailable because of club commitments. They may be called up for the Canadian senior friendly against Ghana in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 13, which falls on a FIFA international window.
While the Olympic competition is under-23, Floro had to choose under-22 players for the CONCACAF tournament, which runs Oct. 1-13 in the United States. Teams can augment their squads at the Olympics with three players of any age.
Canada is in Group A with the U.S., Panama and Cuba. Group B is made up of Costa Rica, Haiti, Honduras and Mexico.
Host Brazil, Argentina, Fiji, Denmark, Germany, Portugal and Sweden have already qualified for the Games.
Canada plays its first two games in Kansas City — Oct. 1 against the U.S. and Oct. 3 against Panama — before moving to Denver to face Cuba on Oct. 6. The final four games are set for Salt Lake.
The Canadian roster features players from all five of Canada’s pro clubs: the three MLS sides plus FC Edmonton and Ottawa Fury FC of the NASL. Fifteen members of the squad are based in Canada.
Defender Mark-Anthony Kaye of Toronto FC 2 is the lone newcomer to the Canadian age-grade fold.
Goalkeepers: Maxime Crepeau, Montreal Impact; Quillan Roberts, Toronto FC; Ricky Gomes, Sport Clube de Mirandela (Portugal).
Defenders: Johnny Grant, FC Montreal; Mark-Anthony Kaye, Toronto FC II; Jackson Farmer, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2; Luca Gasparotto, Greenock Morton (Scotland); Skylar Thomas, Toronto FC II.
Midfielders: Chris Mannella, Toronto FC; Mauro Eustaquio, Ottawa Fury FC; Jay Chapman, Toronto FC; Michael Petrasso, Queens Park Rangers (England); Samuel Piette, Deportivo La Coruna (Spain); Ben Fisk, Deportivo La Coruna B; Molham Babouli, Toronto FC II; Hanson Boakai, FC Edmonton; Dylan Carreiro, Dundee (Scotland).
Forwards: Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Montreal Impact; Caleb Clarke, Vancouver Whitecaps; Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare, Montreal Impact.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press