Nine years after captaining Canada against Congo at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, David Edgar continues to lead the way.
The 29-year-old defender/midfielder from Kitchener, Ont., served as skipper for Friday’s 1-1 tie with Azerbaijan in Rohrbach an der Lafnitz, Austria. And he will likely play a key role again Tuesday when the Canadian men, currently ranked 93rd in the world, face No. 66 Uzbekistan in another international friendly in Bad Waltersdorf, Austria.
Veteran midfielder Julian de Guzman, who has since returned to his Ottawa club team, normally wears the captain’s armband but started on the bench against No. 138 Azerbaijan after seeing limited action recently due to injury.
The Azerbaijan game marked the second time Edgar has captained his country at the senior level. He also led Canada out against El Salvador at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
He likes what he sees in the Canadian camp these days.
"We’ve got a great group now in terms of quality — and depth especially, which we haven’t had in the past," said Edgar.
The latest to join the fold is 20-year-old Queens Park Rangers midfielder Michael Petrasso, who earned his first senior cap against Azerbaijan.
"He’s been fantastic since he got here," Edgar said of Petrasso.
Edgar was one of several players released last month by Birmingham City, which had sent him on loan to Sheffield United last season.
Edgar signed with Birmingham on a free transfer from Burnley in June 2014. He started well but things changed after he was sent off in the seventh minute of an 8-0 loss to Bournemouth four months later. A new manager came in and the team started doing well, keeping him out of the lineup.
He eventually went to Huddersfield on loan before moving to Sheffield United.
Edgar is awaiting word on his next move. "We’ll deal with the future as it comes," he said.
A future move to Major League Soccer is not out of the question.
"It’s definitely an option," said Edgar, who watches MLS games regularly. "Something I want to consider."
Canada’s roster is down to 19 for Tuesday’s match.
Goalkeeper Milan Borjan (wrist) and midfielder Will Johnson (hip) returned to their clubs in Bulgaria and Toronto, respectively, before the Azerbaijan game due to injury.
De Guzman and defenders Marcel de Jong (Ottawa Fury FC), and Adam Straith (Fredrikstad FK, Norway) left after Friday’s game. Forward Iain Hume arrived in camp Sunday after finishing his season with SD Ponferradina in Spain.
With games four days apart, Canada is mirroring its schedule in September for key World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and El Salvador.
"This will be an opportunity to demonstrate, after four days in between the matches, that we can increase our level of pressing, to add to our attack, and to understand what we can do to win the game in Honduras," Canadian coach Benito Floro said in a statement.
Uzbekistan, which has never played Canada, is gearing up for World Cup qualifiers against Syria on Aug 31 and Qatar on Sept. 5.
Tesho Akindele scored against Azerbaijan as Canada extended its winless streak to five, including a pair of losses to Mexico and a draw with El Salvador in World Cup qualifying and a loss to the U.S. in friendly action. Akindele’s goal is the lone score for Canada during that stretch.
Floro has used the Austria camp to prepare on and off the field for the next round of qualifying matches.
"The vibe is good," Edgar said. "Very good."
Edgar, who left for England at 14 to play in Newcastle’s youth system, plans to fly back to Canada after the game to join his wife and daughter.