CPLers Thomas Meilleur-Giguère and David Norman Jr. will try to help the Canadian men’s team qualify for the Olympics for the first time in 37 years.
On Wednesday, both Meilleur-Giguère (Pacific FC) and Norman Jr. (Cavalry FC ) were named to the Canadian under-23 team roster for the upcoming Concacaf Olympic qualifying tournament, which runs from March 18-30 in Mexico.
Canada’s 20-man squad also features senior national team contributor Derek Cornelius.
Last month, Canada Soccer named its 50-man provisional roster, a list that featured 11 CPL players in total, including Diyaeddine Abzi, Noah Verhoeven and Chrisnovic N’sa of York United FC; Terran Campbell and Kadin Chung of Pacific FC; David Choinière of Forge FC; Mo Farsi of Cavalry FC; and Easton Ongaro and Shamit Shome of FC Edmonton. CF Montréal defender Karifa Yao, who will spend this season on loan at Cavalry), also made the provisional roster.
Norman Jr., a 22-year-old native of B.C., recently signed a multi-year deal with Cavalry after spending the 2020 season in MLS with Inter Miami.
The son of former Canadian international David Norman Sr., Norman Jr. began in the Vancouver Whitecaps youth program at the age of nine. Following one year at NCAA Division I side Oregon State University in 2016, where he led the team in assists as a freshman, Norman Jr. signed with Whitecaps FC 2 of the USL.
The six-foot-two midfielder was named Player of the Year for Whitecaps 2 after leading the team in assists, chances created and duels won. After signing with the Whitecaps senior team in December of 2017, Norman Jr. was loaned to Scottish side Queen of the South.
After the completion of his loan, the Whitecaps traded Norman Jr. to Inter Miami. But before joining the MLS club he was sent on loan again, this time to Pacific FC, where he played in eight games for the Tridents during the 2019 CPL season.
Due to a pre-season injury, he didn’t make an appearance for Miami in 2020 and his option was declined, paving the way for him to join the Cavs as a free agent.
On the international stage, Norman Jr. has represented Canada at the U-15 and U-17 levels, and with Canada’s U-23 side that featured in the 2018 Toulon Tournament.
Concacaf rules stipulate all players must be born on or after 1 January 1997 to be eligible to compete, although the actual Olympic competition allows for three overage players.
The Canadians kick off Group B play at the Olympic qualifiers on March 19 when they take on El Salvador. Canada will also face Haiti (March 22) and Honduras (March 25), with all games to take place in Guadalajara and Zapopan. Group A consists of Mexico, the United States, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.
Canada must finish in the top two of its group to advance to the semifinals on March 28, with only the two tournament finalists earning qualification for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. Canada has not qualified for the Olympics since 1984 in Los Angeles.
This eight-team qualifying tournament was originally scheduled to be played last spring, but like 2020 Tokyo Olympics, it was postponed until this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Olympic soccer competition is scheduled to run from July 21 to Aug. 7
Canada is coached by Mauro Biello, an assistant to senior team coach John Herdman.
1- GK- James Pantemis | CAN / CF Montréal
2- FB- Zachary Brault-Guillard | CAN / CF Montréal
3- FB- Zorhan Bassong | CAN / CF Montréal
4- CB- Thomas Meilleur-Giguère | CAN / Pacific FC
5- CB- Derek Cornelius | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
6- M- Michael Baldisimo | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
7- F- Tajon Buchanan | USA / New England Revolution
8- M- David Norman | CAN / Cavalry FC
9- F- Charles-Andreas Brym | BEL / Royal Mouscron
10- M- Aidan Daniels | USA / Oklahoma City Energy
11- F- Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla | CAN / CF Montréal
12- F- Kris Twardek | POL / Jagiellonia Białystok
13- FB- Marcus Godinho | GER / FSV Zwickau
14- M- Ryan Raposo | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
15- F- Theo Bair | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
16- CB- Callum Montgomery | USA / Minnesota United FC
17- M- Patrick Metcalfe | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
18- GK- Matthew Nogueira | POR / CS Maritimo
19- GK- Sebastian Breza | ITA / FC Bologna
20- AM- Lucas Dias | POR / Sporting CP U-23