Cavalry FC defender Dominick Zator has looked good in red all season in the Canadian Premier League, and that’s probably why he’ll be looking oh so fresh in a new red shirt later this month, too.
Zator is the latest CPL player to get the nod for John Herdman’s Canadian men’s team, having earned his first-ever international call-up at any level – youth, or otherwise – alongside FC Edmonton’s Amer Didic for a Concacaf Nations League game against the United States in Orlando on Nov. 15.
As you might expect, Zator – who has quietly and effectively put in work as a key cog in Cavalry’s backline this season – was brimming with excitement over his first Canadian call-up.
“Honestly, words can’t describe it,” Zator told CanPL.ca. “I’m overwhelmed, excited, and honoured, all that, combined. When I got that call, it was a rush of emotions through my whole body. I was at my girlfriend’s place, and Herdman called me up and just says he’s glad to tell me that I’ve been selected for the 23 players called up to the next camp. I couldn’t believe it. It was brilliant.”
Zator, 25, becomes the third CPL-er to earn the call to Canada, and the first to do so without any previous national team experience, as Marco Carducci and Didic had played for the national team in a youth level beforehand. As such, Zator credits the CPL for giving him the exposure needed to earn the distinguished nod.
“There’s always a goal to be able to play for the national team, but I’d say all the minutes I played was definitely a big factor, being able to play all those big games,” Zator offered.
“I guess there’s so many different factors when you’re playing these games. You have to adjust to so many different situations. You test yourself, and the circumstances of certain games, and I think that’s really helped me adjust to the playing styles we’ve had. It taught me how to overcome and adapt to different situations, which made me a better player. And, it got me recognized by the Canadian national team.”
He added: “It’s true, what the Canadian Premier League has given me is the chance to be exposed to the eyes of the national team. I don’t know what other roads I could have taken; this has given me the chance. It’s a great platform for many other aspiring Canadians coming up through the system, if they haven’t made it through any of the MLS academies, or on the national team at any of the youth levels. There’s still always a chance, and I guess I’m the example of that now! It’s possible to still make it to this level by going through this route.”
Like Carducci and Didic, Zator will need to go into camp in Florida and impress as he pursues even greater heights. It’ll start with a solid showing, whether as an on-field option or as a supportive piece in training, for Herdman’s side.
Pressure will be double for Canada, too, as Herdman’s outfit managed to defeat the U.S. 2-0 in Toronto last month, their first win over the Stars and Stripes in 34 years.
“Every time there’s a battle against the States, it’s super exciting,” Zator said of the match.
“It’s always a massive battle. But, knowing that the last game we played, we beat them, and it was the first time we beat them in more than 30 years? It’s crazy. We have to be able to match that in the next game. We know the States are going to be fired up. They want to come back. They won’t take that loss easily, so they’ll want to come back and compete.
“But, we’re going to the U.S., they’ll have a big crowd, it’ll be a wicked atmosphere, but in the end, we want to make sure we keep playing our game and hopefully get another win.”
Whether Zator features or not, the dream has been sparked nonetheless. Now? He’s dreaming even bigger.
“As a kid, you’d always dream of playing in a World Cup, so that’s definitely a long-term goal that I’m going to work hard every day for now, to make sure I can make it onto the squad that goes to a World Cup,” Zator concluded.