Olivier Ocean’s lack of discipline has opened the door for Lucas Cavallini.
Canadian coach Stephen Hart on Saturday called up Cavallini into his national team roster for next week’s do-or-die World Cup qualifying contest against Honduras in place of the suspended Occean.
Occean picked up a red card in Canada’s 3-0 win over Cuba Friday night in Toronto. His expulsion from the game means he receives an automatic one-game ban, ruling him out for Tuesday’s contest between Canada and Honduras in San Pedro Sula.
A 19-year forward from Toronto, Cavallini plays in Uruguay’s first division with Juventud de Las Piedras. He’s made a handful of appearances for Canada’s under-20 and under-23 teams, and has one cap for the Canadian senior side, coming on as a late substitute during a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago in August.
Cavallini scored for Juventud in a 1-1 draw with Centro Atletico Fenix on Saturday, and now the young Canadian is en route to Honduras where he’ll hope to earn a second cap for Canada.
Game should have been a win for us but I’m happy for the goal and now flight tonight first class to meet up wit #CMNT in Honduras for Tues!!
In truth, though, the chances that Hart will insert a young player with limited experience into his starting lineup is unlikely, and Cavallini will probably only see the field as a substitute in an absolute emergency.
But it’s still an honour to be called into the national team fold, and for a youngster such as Cavallini, it can only benefit his development to be around Canada’s seasoned professionals for a bit of time.
Occean earned a red card for pushing Cuban goalkeeper Odelin Molina after Will Johnson scored in the 74th minute to give Canada a 2-0 lead.
Occean referred to the decision as a “non-sense call,” and claimed that he barely touched the Cuban goalkeeper.
“That’s poor refereeing — really poor refereeing. It (wasn’t) a red card. It’s ridiculous,” Occean told reporters after the game.
The loss of Occean, who has six goals in 28 appearances for his country, is a big blow for an offensively-challenged Canadian side already missing attacking players Dwayne De Rosario and Josh Simpson, both out injured.
With the win over Cuba, Canada moved into second place in its qualifying group with 10 points (+3 goal difference), ahead of Honduras (eight points, +2) and pointless Cuba. Panama leads with 10 points (+4). All four teams have one match left to play.
Only the top two nations move on to “the Hex,” the final round of CONCACAF qualifying where the best three countries in the six-team, round-robin group advance to the World Cup.
Canada will advance to the Hex with a win or draw in Honduras. A loss would eliminate Canada, who previously made it to the Hex in 1998, and even then it finished dead last.