A Half-Dozen From NASL Who Deserve CanMNT Attention

With January friendlies approaching, here is a look at what NASL players should get a nod
Jack Bell (@JackBell} | Dec 22, 2015

It has nearly been 30 years since Canada last played in the World Cup (for the record, in Mexico in 1986, leaving without a point or a goal), but is aiming to turn it around and book its place in Russia for 2018.

Coach Benito Floro and his men, led by captain Julian de Guzman of Ottawa Fury FC, have so far collected four points from two matches in Group A (a 1-0 win over Honduras and 0-0 draw at El Salvador). Canada will face a stern test in its next two matches: vs. Mexico in Vancouver, B.C., on March 25 and at Azteca Stadium on March 29. Canada will face the United States in a friendly match in early February.

The roster on the federation’s website currently only lists one NASL player, de Guzman. Here is a look at several NASL players who, by virtue of their strong seasons in 2015, deserve a shot at landing a spot playing for the red and white:

Mallan Roberts – Not only has Roberts, 23, been on Floro’s national team radar, he has been in a Canada uniform, playing in a World Cup qualifier against Dominica last June (but was not part of the team for the first two matches in Round Four). Previous, Roberts had also considered playing internationally for the country of his birth, Sierra Leone, but is now cap-tied to Canada (he became a citizen in February 2015). He played in and started 21 matches for the Eddies last season, mostly in central defense.

Eddie Edward – Edward, 27, a product of Ottawa Fury FC’s youth academy, signed with FC Edmonton in December 2012 after a stint in MLS with FC Dallas. Steady (he played in and started 26 matches for the Eddies in 2015) and solid (6-foot, 205 pounds), Edward has never played for Canada internationally at any level. Maybe it is time to give the defender a bona fide look.

Mauro Eustáquio – Eustáquio, 22, was part of a national team training camp in September but, at present, is not part of the national team roster. Born in Portugal before moving to Canada as an infant, he returned to the country of his birth at age 11 and decamped for Canada to play for the under-20 and under-23 national teams. He turned in a strong season for Ottawa Fury FC in 2015, playing in 20 matches (15 starts) and scoring two goals. He is skillful on the ball and could be a gem for the future, though he could easily slide into the picture for the next series of World Cup qualifiers. He also recently participated in Canada’s Olympic qualifying bid.

Mason Trafford – Trafford, 29, was part of Ottawa Fury FC’s formidable and No. 1 defensive unit during the 2015 NASL season. After stints overseas in Finland and China, Trafford has played only once for Canada’s senior national team – as a second-half substitute in a January 2013 friendly against Denmark. The defender who was born in the United States, grew up in North Vancouver, and played in college at the University of Nevada has been in strong form and warrants a possible recall into the national team setup.

Marcel DeBellis – Though behind Ottawa Fury FC’s Golden Glove award winner Romuald Peiser in the depth chart, DeBellis, 24, is widely considered to be one of Canada’s goalkeepers of the future. Fury FC goalkeepers coach Bruce Grobbelaar believes DeBellis has the skill to be a starter for nearly any other NASL club, right now. But with Milan Borjan (Ludogorets/Bulgaria), Simon Thomas (Strommen/Norway) and Kenny Stamatopoulos (AIK/Sweden) ahead of him, DeBellis might have to wait for the next cycle.

Allan Zebie – Zebie, 22, was born in France but has spent his formative years in Canada, first in Montreal then in Edmonton. He was part of FC Edmonton’s productive youth academy and has played for the under-20 national team. After trials with Leeds United in England and Glasgow Rangers in Scotland, he signed with the Eddies last January and was solid in defense in 21 games (18 starts).

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