If the world was business at usual at the moment, the Canadian men’s national team would have played Trinidad and Tobago twice last week on Vancouver Island. In all likelihood, Cavalry FC goalkeeper Marco Carducci could have been called to join them, after attending the previous camp in January.
It was not to be, however, with those fixtures cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, Carducci’s wait for a senior international debut continues, perhaps relegated to a back-burner for now.
Still, it’s important for an athlete — particularly one at the top of their competition, as CPL Goalkeeper of the Year Carducci was in 2019 — to have concrete goals. For Carducci, a consistent spot in the national team is surely one of the more concrete.
“To be called in again with the national team and to continue to be on their radar is my goal, I think I’ve made that public and I’ve made that clear,” Carducci told CanPL.ca. “My long-term goal is to be there as the number one every single game.”
Carducci may not be at the top of Canada’s depth chart right now, with Milan Borjan obviously reigning supreme and Maxime Crépeau ostensibly the successor-in-waiting. The 23-year-old agreed that, as someone just on the cusp of their years as a full-time professional, his moment in the sun may be a few years down the line.
“The sooner the better, of course, but I know that it’s gonna take a lot of games and time … to get to that level,” Carducci said. “Right now I want to keep on being that guy that (Canada’s coaching staff) want to bring in, and if that’s as the number three, then I’ll continue to do my time and show them that I’m reliable, I’m a guy they want around.”
He continued: “As time progresses I want to continue to climb the chart. I know I’m not necessarily solidified by any means as one of the top three right now, but I think I’m getting close.”
Carducci does have competition for that third spot, with CPL newcomer James Pantemis at Valour FC the other major claimant, but the Cavalry ‘keeper seems to be putting some daylight between himself and the fourth rung on Canada’s ladder.
Ten clean sheets in 2019 certainly helped his case, of course, as did his emergence as (perhaps indisputably) the best goalkeeper in the CPL.
“I had full confidence in myself all the time, I know that the work I did and the preparation I did all throughout last year’s pre-season and kind of beyond that, I knew what I could do,” Carducci said. “It was just a matter of consistently doing it and being confident in my abilities.”
His confidence should not be mistaken for presumption, though; Carducci added that he never set out expecting to be the league’s best. Plus, it’s not like there was nothing left for Cavalry to accomplish — after his side fell short in the CPL Finals last fall, Carducci was restlessly awaiting the start of a new season.
“I spent this off-season, and I’m spending this time now, really thinking about the particulars in my game that I want to improve,” he said. “There are a lot of areas that I’ve highlighted, and I want to take it to the next level.”
Of course, that progress is impeded a little now, with athletes everywhere unable to train. Carducci told CanPL.ca that he and his Cavs teammates have jumped on the bandwagon of working out at home, with their coaching staff providing drills and training programs for them. Having shut down after almost two full weeks of training, though, Carducci acknowledged that nothing can quite match being on the soccer pitch every day.
“It’s kind of funny that you start to realize how much you miss the guys you see every day,” he said. “Not only with the team-related stuff ,but also keeping in touch with the guys, checking in on everyone, seeing how everyone’s doing. Just typical stuff that you start to miss when you’re not in the locker room and together every day.”
Carducci, of course, has other interests to pass the time in self-isolation — he’s studying for a business diploma at Thompson Rivers University, for one — plus, of course, there’s the online coaching service, CONTRLL, that he runs with fellow Cav Elijah Adekugbe and 2019 teammate Carlos Patiño (look for a more in-depth story on the business at CanPL.ca this week).
Ultimately, the CPL’s top goalkeeper is putting this time off to good use, with both the 2020 season with Cavalry and a future with the Canadian national team heavy on his mind. When the sporting world finally does resume, Carducci should be firing on all cylinders.