The future of Canadian soccer will be on full display at this summer’s Pan American Games. On both the men’s and women’s sides, some of the nation’s brightest young stars will be aiming for the podium in front of home crowds in Hamilton.
The women’s team won Pan Am gold back in 2011, but this year’s team will feature a youthful squad looking to prove that they can step into the spotlight with the national team in the years ahead. The men’s competition, which is an under-22 event, will feature a crop of promising Canadians who will, later this year, try to earn the country a spot in next year’s Olympic Games.
To help get ready for the tournament, here’s a look at some of the top Canadians to watch:
She was just named the best young player at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and at 20 years old, she’s already one of Canada’s top players. She’s a big, strong and quick central defender who can shut down opposing attackers with ease.
Another 20-year-old who starred at the Women’s World Cup, she’s an energetic midfielder who started all five games for Canada in that tournament. She also scored her first-ever goal for the women’s national team in a crucial 1-1 draw with the Netherlands.
The speedy 17-year-old midfielder is one of the most highly touted prospects in the country, thanks to a level of on-field intelligence that’s rare for someone her age. She got a taste of action at the Women’s World Cup, and will be looking to make an even bigger impact for Canada at TO2015.
The 20-year-old forward just missed the cut for this year’s Women’s World Cup, but was Canada’s top scorer at the 2014 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup. She’s got soccer in her veins (her brother Drew plays for Ottawa Fury FC) and a keen attacking instinct.
The flashy 21-year-old midfielder impressed fans with his offensive prowess while playing for Canada’s under-17 and under-20 national teams. Now, after a successful first season playing professionally in Costa Rica, he’ll be aiming to turn even more heads at the Pan Am Games.
One of the brightest young stars in the Canadian system, the 18-year-old has already been playing for FC Edmonton in the North American Soccer League for three years. The midfielder/forward stands at just 1.62 metres (5’4″), but what he may lack in size, he makes up for with dazzling footwork and ball movement.
The 22-year-old forward is one of the top scorers in the United Soccer League this season, with six goals so far. He also had scoring success last season while playing for FC Augsburg II in Germany, but he’s now back with his hometown Vancouver Whitecaps and ready to step up for club and country.
Another exciting midfield player, the 19-year-old made his debut for Canada’s national team in a friendly against Colombia last October – and almost scored his first goal seconds after coming into the game! A good performance at the Pan-Ams could put him in contention for more playing time at his club, Toronto FC.