Canada announced on Thursday its 23-man roster for a pair of crucial World Cup qualifying matches next month, and one player was conspicuous by his absence from the list.
Toronto FC midfielder and national team veteran Will Johnson did not make the cut, as he has been overlooked by coach Benito Floro for the Reds’ games against Honduras (Sept. 2 in San Pedro Sula) and El Salvador (Sept. 6 in Vancouver).
Johnson, 29, has earned 41 caps (35 as a starter) for Canada since making his national team debut in 2005, scoring four goals and adding seven assists.
He’s played and started in all six of Canada’s matches during this recent World Cup qualifying cycle, and is considered one of the team’s best midfielder, so his exclusion is a bit baffling.
Johnson did suffer a leg injury back in June while playing for TFC that sidelined him for seven weeks. But he recently returned to action for Toronto, making appearances in each of the team’s last two MLS games.
His absence is even more questionable when you consider veteran Julian de Guzman is unavailable for selection due to a knee injury. You’d think that’d be even more of a reason for Floro to select Johnson for duty, but apparently not.
There also continues to be no place on the team for Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio, who has logged the second highest number of minutes of any Canadian player in Major League Soccer, behind only behind Cyle Larin of Orlando City.
Canada currently sits third in its qualifying group, tied with Honduras on four points. Mexico leads the group with 12 points, and has already booked its spot in “the Hex,” the final round of the CONCACAF qualifiers. El Salvador is in last place with two points.
The top two teams in the group move on to “the Hex,” so these are critical games for Canada who realistically will need to take at least three points from these two games to advance.
Of the 23 players on this team, 19 have already been part of this CONCACAF semifinal round of World Cup qualifying.
Canada has not made it to “the Hex” since the qualifying campaign for the 1998 World Cup. The Reds have only qualified and played in one World Cup, in 1986 in Mexico.
• Goalkeepers: Maxime Crépeau (Montreal Impact), Milan Borjan (Ludogorets Razgrad/Bulgaria), Kenny Stamatopoulos (AIK Fotbol/Sweden)
• Defenders: Nik Ledgerwood (FC Edmonton), Manjrekar James (Vasas Budapest/Hungary), Dejan Jakovic (Shimizu S-Pulse/Japan), David Edgar (Vancouver Whitecaps), Doneil Henry (West Ham United), André Hainault (FC Magdeburg/Germany), Adam Straith (Fredrikstad FK/Norway), Marcel De Jong (Vancouver Whitecaps), Steven Vitória (Lechia Gdansk/Poland), Karl W. Ouimette (Jacksonville Armada)
• Midfielders: Jamar Dixon (Ottawa Fury), Tosaint Ricketts (Toronto FC), Samuel Piette (CD Izarra/Spain), Scott Arfield (Burnley/England), Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas), Atiba Hutchinson(Besiktas/Turkey)
• Forwards: Marcus Haber (unattached), David Junior Hoilett (unattached), Cyle Larin (Orlando City), Simeon Jackson (Walsall)
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