Canada wrapped up its Nations League qualifying campaign Sunday night with a resounding 4-1 win over French Guiana.
However, as CanPL.ca contributor Oliver Platt commented in the aftermath of this process, questions remain.
Though the group at CPL Editorial agrees mainstays like Milan Borjan and Atiba Hutchinson and Scott Arfield should be in coach John Herdman’s Gold Cup lineup, there’s still plenty of room for debate.
What should Canada’s lineup be if the Gold Cup started today?
Here’s what everyone had to say:
Kurt Larson, Managing Editor
Larson: If Milan Borjan is the consensus No. 1 in goal, the four guys in front of him are the furthest thing from locked in.
At this point you could probably pull names out of a hat to determine Canada’s best centre-back pairing.
That’s not a knock against the likes of Derek Cornelius or Doneil Henry. Nobody since Kevin McKenna has staked a claim on a position that’s of concern to coach John Herdman.
I’m comfortable with Sam Adekugbe; I’m uneasy with my opposite side selection. But, here we are.
(Why did I feel tempted to slot in Cavalry’s Nik Lederwood or, heck, Will Johnson at fullback?)
Canada’s midfield three is a no-brainer. I prefer Hutchinson to sit deep behind a pair of box-to-box midfielders who are capable of producing chances. Scott Arfield and Jonathan Osorio are the clear options here.
Junior Hoilett might be a top-five winger in CONCACAF. Alphonso Davies isn’t a left-back.
I’ve liked Lucas Cavallini over Cyle Larin for a few years now.
Armen Bedakian, Associate Editor
Bedakian: Mark-Anthony Kaye at left-back? OK, sure, it works. But let’s be real – Canada’s best wide attacking options shouldn’t be kept on the bench.
Balance is a luxury that comes with bountiful depth, and while John Herdman’s squad is deeper than usual, this team will still need to sing to its strengths to draw results out of opponents like Jamaica, Costa Rica, the United States or Mexico.
That means firing on all attacking cylinders, with Alphonso Davies at left-wingback, Scott Arfield over on the right, Jonathan Osorio and Atiba Hutchinson in a two-man midfield tandem, and the usual suspects up top scoring goals and cracking assists.
The backline, still being tinkered with over each match, turns to a trio, with David Edgar providing a touch of experience, Manjrekar James providing height and physicality, and Doneil Henry doing a little bit of everything.
Will it hold? Probably not all the time, but if you can’t stave off a U.S. side in an evolutionary funk, you can at least outscore ‘em, right?
Marty Thompson, Digital Content Editor
Thompson: Canada’s strongest lineup must incorporate Jonathan David, Junior Hoilett and Alphonso Davies. Makes sense?
OK, hear me out: It’s a 4-3-3 without possession and 3-4-3 with it. Davies will surge ahead when Canada wins possession, Doneil Henry would tuck inside.
Perhaps three-at-the-back is not an ideal setup given Canada’s depth in defence, but it gets all the best players on the pitch, positional perfection aside.
That’s something Herdman has hinted at recently, too.
If Atiba Hutchinson plays deeper, I’d argue you strike a decent balance in defence.
As a bonus, both Henry and Jonathan Osorio have experience on the right.