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HomeSportsSoccerBuchanan, Cavallini, Kaye return for high-stakes CONCACAF Nations League series

Buchanan, Cavallini, Kaye return for high-stakes CONCACAF Nations League series

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Tajon Buchanan, Lucas Cavallini and Mark-Anthony Kaye return to the fold for Canada’s high-stakes CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinal series against Jamaica later this month.

The trio has a combined 113 caps and 25 goals for Canada, with Cavallini accounting for 19 of them.

Canada, currently ranked 45th in the world, opens the two-legged series in Kingston, Jamaica, on Nov. 17 before hosting the 55th-ranked Reggae Boyz at Toronto’s BMO Field four days later.

The quarterfinal winners qualify for the 2024 Copa America as one of six guest CONCACAF teams. The losers will meet in a single-match elimination play-in in March to decide the two final CONCACAF entries in the 16-team tournament to be hosted by the United States from June 20 to July 14.

Making the Copa America field means facing elite opposition from outside CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean. It’s something the Canadian men need in spades ahead of co-hosting the 2026 World Cup.

The 10 CONMEBOL entries at Copa America feature seven teams currently ranked ahead of Canada, including World Cup champion Argentina (No. 1) and Brazil (No. 3).

Interim coach Mauro Biello has also called in midfielder Ali Ahmed, who made his senior debut in June against Guadeloupe at the Gold Cup. The 23-year-old Ahmed, coming off a breakthrough season with the Vancouver Whitecaps, has four caps to his credit.

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Canada also gets Stephen Eustaquio back. The influential FC Porto midfielder travelled for Canada’s last outing, a 4-1 loss to No. 18 Japan on Oct. 13 in Niigata, but returned to his club before the game to rehab an injury.

Buchanan also missed out on the Japan game through injury.

Canada, Mexico, the U.S. and Costa Rica were given byes to the final eight of the CONCACAF Nations League competition, based on the March CONCACAF rankings. Panama, Jamaica, Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago advanced via a League A qualifying round in the September and October international windows.

The 11th-ranked U.S. will play No. 99 Trinidad and Tobago while No. 12 Mexico faces No. 78 Honduras and No. 44 Panama meets No. 46 Costa Rica.

Aggregate score

The team scoring the most goals over the two games moves on, with away goals counting double in the event the aggregate score is tied. If that doesn’t settle things, there will be 30 minutes of extra time, with away goals not counting as double.

The final tiebreaker, if needed, is a penalty shootout.

The quarterfinal winners also move on to the Nations League final four in March.

Biello, handed the Canada reins on a temporary basis after John Herdman stepped down to take charge of Toronto FC, also has veteran help in Milan Borjan (78 caps), Jonathan Osorio (69), Sam Piette (67), Cyle Larin (63) and Junior Hoilett (60) as well as Richie Laryea (46), Steven Vitoria (45), Jonathan David (43), Alphonso Davies (42) and Sam Adekugbe (41)

“I’m really excited about the upcoming matches and what they can lead our team to,” Biello said in a statement.

“We know that these upcoming two matches will be difficult against a solid opponent, in difficult conditions, so that is why we decided on an experienced and seasoned group of players who are used to high-pressure games,” he added.

Luc de Fougerolles, a 18-year-old defender who made his competitive debut for England’s Fulham in Carabao Cup play earlier this month, retains his place in the squad. The English-born de Fougerolles, who qualifies for Canada via his Canadian-born father, received his first call-up for the Japan game but did not see action.

Biello’s 23-man roster features 10 MLS players, including four from the Whitecaps and one each from CF Montreal and Toronto FC.

Canada has a 10-6-7 all-time record against the Reggae Boyz, clinching World Cup qualification last time they met in a 4-0 win in March 2022 at BMO Field.

Panama and Trinidad and Tobago finished 1-2 in the six-country League A Group A, with No. 89 Curacao and No. 77 El Salvador relegated to League B after finishing in the bottom two. Jamaica and Honduras topped Group B with No. 88 Haiti and No. 176 Grenada relegated.

Jamaica finished with a 3-0-1 record, beating Honduras 1-0, Grenada 4-1 and Haiti 3-1. It also tied Haiti 2-2.

Canada roster

Goalkeepers: Milan Borjan, ŠK Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia); Maxime Crepeau, Los Angeles FC (MLS); Dayne St. Clair, Minnesota United FC (MLS).

Defenders: Samuel Adekugbe, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Derek Cornelius, Malmo FF (Sweden); Alphonso Davies, Bayern Munich (Germany); Luc de Fougerolles, Fulham (England); Alistair Johnston, Celtic (Scotland); Richie Laryea, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Kamal Miller, Inter Miami (MLS); Steven Vitoria, GD Chaves (Portugal).

Defender/Midfielder: Ali Ahmed, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS).

Midfielders: Stephen Eustaquio, FC Porto (Portugal); Mark-Anthony Kaye, New England Revolution (MLS); Ismael Kone, Watford (England); Jonathan Osorio, Toronto FC (MLS); Samuel Piette, CF Montreal (MLS).

Midfielder/Forward: Junior Hoilett, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS).

Forwards: Tajon Buchanan, Club Brugge KV (Belgium); Lucas Cavallini, Club Tijuana (Mexico); Jonathan David, Lille OSC (France); Cyle Larin, RCD Mallorca (Spain); Liam Millar. Preston North End (England).

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