Former Canadian Premier League players Dominick Zator and Victor Loturi have received call-ups from the Canadian men’s national team for March’s Concacaf Nations League matches against Curaçao and Honduras.
This is the first international call-up for Loturi, who joined Scottish club Ross County from Cavalry FC this past summer. Zator played four seasons, and over 100 matches, between Cavalry and York United. He was previously called up by Canada in November 2019 but did not feature.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Victor in our environment, and Dominick Zator, these are players who have progressed out of our Canadian Premier League and have taken a risk to go over to Europe in those sort of second and third tier leagues in Europe and getting experiences that I think [Canadians] who have taken that jump have not always found easy,” said Canada head coach John Herdman in a media call on Thursday.
“These players are getting consistent minutes, which is really important for selection in these windows. They are playing in leagues where it’s not easy, it reminds us of some of the matches that they’re going to have to play in Concacaf where their backs are against the wall in tough conditions. But they have done well.”
Loturi is one of two first-time call-ups for Canada, as Brighton & Hove Albion U-21, and former England youth international, goalkeeper Tom McGill also gets his first look with the national team.
Canada currently sits second in Group C of Concacaf Nations League A, three points behind Honduras — albeit with a game in hand and a superior goal difference. They open the window away to Curaçao on Saturday, March 25 before returning to Toronto’s BMO Field for a clash with Honduras on March 28. A win and a draw would be enough to see them through to the Nations League knockout stage for the first time.
For Loturi, ever since his days as a 17-year-old with Cavalry, joining the national team has been a goal of his. Today, that dream came true.
“Of course, coming from the CPL, some of my teammates — Joel Waterman, Dominick Zator, [Marco] Carducci, [Nik Ledgerwood] — I’ve seen them do it when I was younger, and I’ve always had aspirations of making the national team,” Loturi told CanPL.ca. “I didn’t know how it would happen, what I would have to do but kept working and it finally came and I’m just super excited. It hasn’t really hit yet but I think once I get there it will properly hit. It’s just a big moment for me and my family, and my friends that have been with me this whole way so I’m just so excited.”
He credits his Canadian Premier League experience as a key part of his development as a player, not only getting to learn from those former and current national team players but also equipping him with 45 matches of professional experience in all competitions with Cavalry FC.
“It gave me an opportunity, it gave me a platform to get to this level,” said Loturi. “Without the CPL I probably wouldn’t even be in Europe. So I think it just gives you an opportunity and it gives you a World stage to actually play at. You see players like Joel Waterman, and Dominick Zator, I can name some other players as well that are going in different leagues, doing well there, [going to the] World Cup. So it just gave me an opportunity, gave me an opportunity so I took it and I’m just super thankful for Cavalry and the CPL for what they have done for me and other players.”
Loturi is the exact profile of player that Herdman is especially hoping to see come out of the league: one who develops from a young age and is able to use the league as a platform for further opportunities.
“Those younger players that can really use that development and experience playing in a good league in Canada with experienced Canadian players and then springboard out in the next level,” he said.
Zator believes that after just four seasons of existence, this is only the start of the player pipeline that will come through the Canadian Premier League.
“I think it will only keep growing and there’s going to be more and more players moving on from this league to bigger and better leagues around the world and even getting more Canadian national team players from the CPL,” said Zator.
Herdman credits the 28-year-old Zator’s belief in himself for his return to the national team setup. After having a tough time finding his footing in Europe on a few different attempts, he has finally done so over the past few months.
“Dom has had a few tough runs in different environments,” said Herdman, “but to me it’s a testament to the player that just has the resilience to one, believe in his abilities, but two, to keep going and keep pushing.”
It is part of the expressed goal of the Canadian Premier League to be a talent development pathway for the Canadian men’s national team and entering the league’s fifth season, that goal continues to be accomplished.
Here is the full Canadian men’s national team squad for the March 2023 window:
GK- Milan Borjan | SRB / FK Crvena zvezda (Red Star Belgrade)GK- Tom McGill | ENG / ENG / Brighton & Hove Albion U-21 GK- Dayne St. Clair | USA / Minnesota United FC CB- Derek Cornelius | SWE / Malmö FF CB- Scott Kennedy | GER / SSV Jahn Regensburg CB- Kamal Miller | CAN / CF Montréal CB- Steven Vitória | POR / GD Chaves CB- Dominick Zator | POL / Korona Kielce FB- Samuel Adekugbe | TUR / Galatasaray SK FB- Alistair Johnston | SCO / Celtic FC FB- Richie Laryea | CAN / Toronto FC M- Stephen Eustáquio | POR / FC Porto M- Atiba Hutchinson | TUR / Beşiktaş JK M- Mark-Anthony Kaye | CAN / Toronto FC M- Ismaël Koné | ENG / Watford FC M- Victor Loturi | SCO / Ross County FC M- Jonathan Osorio | CAN / Toronto FC F- Ayo Akinola | CAN / Toronto FC F- Charles-Andreas Brym | NED / FC Eindhoven F- Tajon Buchanan | BEL / Club Brugge KV F- Jonathan David | FRA / Lille OSC F- Alphonso Davies | GER / FC Bayern München F- Cyle Larin | ESP / Real Valladolid CF