‘Will other CPL players be called up?’: Herdman weighs in ahead of U.S. match

TORONTO – Although he didn’t play in Canada’s recent CONCACAF Nations League matches, Marco Carducci left a lasting impression on coach John Herdman.

Carducci, a 23-year-old native of Calgary, became the first CPL player to earn a call-up to the Canadian national team last month when he was named to Herdman’s roster for a pair of matches against Cuba.

Carducci’s inclusion in the Canadian side hardly came as a surprise. The Cavalry FC goalkeeper has firmly established himself as one of the top goalkeepers in the CPL, and he is a major reason why Cavalry won the Spring season, and are in contention to win the Fall championship. He currently leads all CPL shot-stoppers with nine clean sheets across both seasons, and he ranks third in saves (55).

Still, Carducci’s stellar play at club level wasn’t enough to earn him any playing time for Canada in the home-and-away series against Cuba, as Milan Borjan, Canada’s long-time No. 1, started between the posts in both games. But the Cavalry ‘keeper did impress Herdman with the way he conducted himself in the Canadian camp, and it’s clear he’ll be in consideration for next summer’s Nations League finals.

“Marco Carducci came in with a level of professionalism which was second to none. We’d all heard about his great character, and I know for him he had a great experience, seeing Milan Borjan in action, and was pushing in every training session. The attitude was there,” Herdman said.

As for other CPL-ers who have ambitions of earning similar national team nods, Carducci’s recent inclusion should give them hope, as should Herdman’s statement that the CPL is “certainly a league that we are scouting, and scouting heavily,” led by his assistant coach, Mauro Biello.

“Will other CPL players get called up? Again, I’ll come back to positional depth, and what’s required at that moment. Those (CPL players) who are playing regularly, they know they have more of a chance of getting called up than a guy sitting on the bench in a league somewhere in Europe. That’s real in our selection,” Herdman stated.

Up next for Canada is a pair of marquee Nations league matches against the United States. The Reds host the Americans in Toronto on Oct. 15 before travelling down to Orlando to play the Americans on Nov. 5. Those two contests will likely determine who wins Group A and advances to the finals, as well as have a bearing on whether Canada qualifies for “the Hex,” the final round of the CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

How does Herdman thinks his Canadian side stacks up against an American team that features Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore?

“If you ask if it’s about will, if you ask if it’s about desire and hunger, we want it as bad as them, if not even more. For us, the game is going to mean a lot more in terms of our qualification into “The Hex”. … For Canada, we’re very talented in areas of the field, and in some areas we have players who are still growing and developing. These are the games that they get a chance to actually step out and show their quality,” Herdman offered.

If Canada stands any chance of qualifying for next summer’s Nations League finals, it’ll have to take points off the Americans in this two-game set. That’s easier said than done, considering the history between these teams, but Herdman believes Canadian fans can play a role in helping them put one over on the Americans at BMO Field.

“The U.S., if you look at our track record, it’s 1985 since we beat this team. And yeah, we’ve got talent, but we’ve had talent in previous teams as well. We’ve come close, but I think the fans could make that bit of difference,” Herdman said.

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