Canada’s future strike force (or, “hope springs eternal”)

It’s no secret that the three of us here at Some Canadian Guys are very high on Simeon Jackson, the 23-year-old forward who recently made a move to Norwich City in the English Championship. One of our colleagues (whose love of Ali Gerba is well-documented) suggested that it’s foolhardy to place so much faith in an as-yet-unproven player.

Well then, call me foolhardy, because I’m about to place faith in not one, not two, but three unproven players!

David “Junior” Hoilett is only 20 years old and finds himself with Blackburn in the Premier League, for whom he’s made 23 appearances. Born in Ottawa — and with a brother who’s also in the Canadian youth setup — he’s also eligible to play for Jamaica and has, to his credit, always declined to answer questions about his international future. Then, about a month ago — and I must have missed this article, in the frenzy of the World Cup — his dad (also his agent) suggested Junior was, in fact, leaning towards Canada.

And there’s another young striker with a family connection — Teal Bunbury (whose father, Alex, scored 16 goals in 64 appearances for Canada) potted his first professional goal last night, scoring the winner for Kansas City in a 1-0 win over Columbus. The Hamilton-born younger Bunbury, also only 20, was drafted fourth overall in this year’s MLS SuperDraft and big things are expected of him. Some have questioned whether he’d rather play for the U.S., where he’s spent much of his life — but I’ve heard him say to me, with my own two ears, that he is committed to Canada.

Of course, as we Canadian fans have learned, simply saying you’re committed to Canada, and actually doing it, can be two very different things. But then again, I’m guessing that Bunbury and Hoilett are getting very different input from their families than a certain goalkeeper-who-shall-not-be-named was.

And when it comes to family input… and as yet-unfilled-promise… and the “Canada or no?” decision… yes, of course, you know his name had to come up: Jonathan de Guzman.

For all the ups and downs his career has already taken, Jono is still only 22. He’ll be 26 when the next World Cup rolls around. The success of the Dutch team in this year’s World Cup means that there probably isn’t going to be a whole lot of turnover by the time the next qualifying cycle rolls around, limiting his chances of making that lineup. Not to mention, Jono — due to injuries — still hasn’t really followed through on the sort of upstart potential that got him on the Netherlands’ radar in the first place.

For new visitors to this site — yes, there is a relation. Jonathan is the younger brother of Canadian stalwart and Toronto FC midfielder Julian de Guzman. He built his career in the Netherlands and decided his international future would lie there, even though he was born in Toronto. He had a few appearances for Dutch youth teams, but never cracked the full men’s national team and, as such, is still eligible for Canada.

Now, many of us experienced frothing, seething anger at his decision to play for Holland — especially since he went on Sportsnet and pretty much declared his commitment to Canada, a few weeks prior to making himself eligible for the Dutch side. But I would hope that this sort of pettiness has dissipated. Jono didn’t make that decision to spite us personally as Canadian fans; he made it because he believed it was the best decision for himself and his career.

In that same dispassionate, transactionary spirit, I would be 100% behind any decision to repatriate him (though the chances of him opting for this are, admittedly, rather minuscule). I want to see Canada play in the World Cup. Period. And if Jonathan de Guzman’s presence can help make that happen, then let’s see it.

In an ideal world, all three of these young men live up to their billing, flourish in their soccer careers and are integral parts of Canada’s next two World Cup qualifying cycles.

In the most wretched of footie dystopias, they all live up to their billing, flourish in their careers and are integral parts of the qualifying campaigns of Jamaica, the U.S. and the Netherlands… or, they all commit to Canada, but completely crash out in their international performances.

I’m guessing the reality will lie somewhere between those two extremes. But there’s always hope.

And no matter what, at least we know we’ve got Simeon Jackson.

(Oh, and Ali Gerba.)

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7 Responses to “Canada’s future strike force (or, “hope springs eternal”)”

  1. Oh, yeah, that Hoilett article. I remember reading about that at a little site called some canadian guys writing about soccer.

  2. Serie_AHH Says:

    If Canada managed to cap all 3 of them they could be very dangerous in attack. They would have to be with 50 year old Pat Onstad still the Canadian keeper. Big thanks for that (you know who you are).

  3. Only way i could see Bunbury going to the USMNT is if he truly had a breakout year, and really got onto USMNT’s radar. At which point the usmnt would probably actively try and recruit him. That could tempt him.

    • No kidding. So what we need is for him to be good enough for a Canadian national call-up… but not good enough for a call-up to the USMNT… until qualifying, then he’ll become a total world-beater.

  4. […] have been, or what might yet be, when it comes to our national team’s roster. I’ve been guilty of the same thing on many occasions, musing about the likes of David Hoilett, Teal Bunbury and — as mentioned […]

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