Jonathan David
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Canada at the World Cup: Players to watch

April 7, 2022April 13th, 2022

With Canada through to their first World Cup finals since 1986, the players who have battled it out through the grueling CONCACAF qualification process will already go down in history for their efforts.

But, who from Canada’s World Cup team should we look out for when it rolls around in November? Here are our top picks for betting on the 2022 world cup.

 

Alistair Johnston

A young defender who established himself as a regular in the qualifiers was 23-year-old, Alistair Johnston, playing all 20 games of the campaign. Johnston even got amongst the goals, scoring the sixth in the 11-0 battering of the Cayman Islands in the early stages of the process.

After a spell at Nashville SC, he recently moved backed to Canada. Despite being offered a fresh contract in the States, he opted to head to Quebec and sign with an up-and-coming CF Montreal team. Appearing in all their games since moving from the Eastern to Western Conference, he is looking like a regular at club level.

In what has been a rough start to the season for the side, Johnston has held his own and demonstrated his versatility in a new role. Progressing from a typically left-back position to a more central role, he has had to prove his playmaker ability and be more involved in attacking play.

Johnston’s move to CF Montreal’s Canadian-centric set-up is ideal in preparation for Qatar as he joined another regular Les Rouges defender, Kamal Miller, in their backline.

It is fair to say that Johnston has also been overshadowed by the more prolific Canadian youngsters who ply their trade in the European leagues. However, there is no doubting Johnston is a safe pair of hands at the back for Canada and is a sure thing for the World Cup squad.

Ismaël Koné

This 19-year-old midfielder is already looking like he may be one to watch in the future. Ismaël plays his club football alongside fellow Canada internationals, Alistair Johnston and Kamal Miller, as another member of the CF Montreal squad that is nursing a lot of young Canadian talent. Standing at 6 ft 2, he is a presence on the field despite his tender age and has shown early sparks of promise.

He has played in all of Montreal’s games in the MLS this season. Already he has scored one and assisted three of the goals the team has scored.

In his first start for Montreal, he was involved in all three goals in a 3-3 draw against Atlanta that gave Montreal their first point of the season. After an early slip-up that gave Atlanta the lead, Kone recovered quickly to make amends in a big way.

He assisted the first goal to equalize, before capitalizing on a decent opportunity 10 minutes later to score his first professional goal and give his team a 2-1 advantage. Another five minutes later, more lovely play from the youngster led to him being fouled in the 18-yard box, securing a penalty that was converted to give this side a 3-1 lead at the break.

Although currently there is not too much to go on, four direct involvements in his team’s goals at club level is an impressive statistic at this early stage in the MLS season. His promise for the future is also seen by John Herman who gave Kone his first run-out as a sub in a crucial game for Canada against Costa Rica in the final stages of qualification. This was followed by his first full start for Canada in their final game of qualification against Panama a week later.

While you can’t quite call him a “sure thing” for the final World Cup squad, he is certainly making a good case for his plane ticket early on in 2022.

 

Cyle Larin

While Cycle Larin has been a part of Canada soccer for over half a decade now, it was only in 2021 the Ontario native came into his own. He was prolific in qualification, scoring 13 of Canada’s impressive 53 goals in the competition, he finished as CONCACAF top goalscorer. These include both goals against Mexico in a historic win and openers in wins against USA and Jamaica. With the latter being the game that sent the Canada team to Qatar.

Despite historically playing at club level for smaller teams, he has shown a penchant for scoring in big games, and there are no bigger games than those at a World Cup.

Thanks to his impressive tally in qualification, he has already risen to the top of Canada’s men’s soccer all-time goalscorers with 24 goals. At 26, he still has lots of time to improve that record, and what better time to further instill himself as a Canada soccer legend than by doing so in Qatar?

Carin, who is currently on loan at the struggling Belgian Pro League side, Zulte Waregem, will be aware that by the time another chance to appear at another World Cup rolls around, he will be 31, so this could be his last chance to show what he can do on the world stage.

 

Jonathan David

Jonathan David has made his international presence felt in a big way throughout Canada’s World Cup qualifiers and found himself bested in the scorings only by teammate, Cycle Larin.

David scored nine goals during CONCACAF qualification, which included a hat-trick against Suriname in the early stages. These efforts have doubled his total goals for his home nation to 20, having scored in 66% of his Canada appearances.

Amazingly this means that at just 22-year-old, he is the third highest-ranking goalscorer for Canada. Currently, he is just two goals behind Canadian legend, Dwayne De Rosario, and four behind Cyle Larin. This is made even more impressive by the fact it took the pair 81 and 50 performances respectively to reach their tallies, so David is on a clear path to smash both their records.

Plying his trade for Lille in Ligue 1, he is currently their leading goalscoring positioning himself fifth in the league’s overall top goalscorers.

It is no surprise many clubs from outside of France have their eye on his promising talent already. A good performance for the Les Rouges in Qatar could take his career to the next level and his performances for Canada indicates that will happen.

Alphonso Davies

Despite being one of the youngest players in the team, lightning-fast left-back Alphonso Davies will be one of the first players on John Herdman’s team list for the World Cup. Plying his trade on a domestic level in the Bundesliga at German giants Bayern Munich, he has been a regular starter since he was 19.

Now 21, Davies already made history for Canada when he became the first Canadian to win the Champion’s League. Despite typically playing at the back at club level, he generally pushes up higher on the wing for his country and is well-known to get in on the action, netting 10 times in 30 matches for Canada.

Already we have seen some of Davies’ impressive scoring ability and incredible pace in Canada’s World Cup qualifiers – including a wonderful solo goal against Panama.

Darting 80-yards from deep in his own half, he dispossessed one Panama player with a piece of fantastic skill before beating another and sliding the ball home. A testament to the young man’s pace, this move saw him clock in at speeds of over 23 MPH.

Davies has already proved himself on some of the biggest stages in world football, but his biggest challenge yet will be in Qatar when his nation’s eye will be firmly fixed on him.

 

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