After a string of impressive performances at the 2022 World Cup, pundits and fans all over the globe are starting to take Canadian soccer more seriously.
The nation’s qualification for Qatar came after it has made giant strides in becoming a serious football playing nation in recent years.
Canadain soccer has made heavy investments in the professional game – including launching its own eight-team Premier League in 2019.
This league includes teams from five different provinces and is already attracting major TV coverage and live attendances.
At the same time America’s MLS is now accommodating more teams and players from north of the border – recognising the growth of the game there.
The improvements have been spotted by everyone in the game, from talent scouts around the world to soccer betting experts.
Canada’s rise to prominence has been helped by well-planned youth development programs. Better training facilities and coaching standards have resulted in a crop of acclaimed young Canadian soccer stars.
Experienced coaches have been used to spot young talent at an early stage and help players develop quickly.
At the same time the Canadian men’s National Team has harnessed the skills of this young ‘golden generation’ to great effect.
Canada won the 2019 CONCACAF National League and qualified for the World Cup Finals for the first time in 36 years. In the last year Canada has reached a ranking of 40th in the world, it’s highest ever position to date.
In Qatar Canada failed to progress from the group stage but scored two goals in a tough draw. The team’s lively positive play drew worldwide praise.
While Canada is still a long way from being a likely contender to win the World Cup, its young stars are changing the status and image of soccer in the country.
Here are five of the best young up-coming Canadian stars:
- Alphonso Davies
The most successful soccer player in Canadian history was born in a refugee camp in Ghana. His family emigrated to Edmonton in Canada when he was still young and Alphonso grew up there.
He made his name with Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS before signing for the German champions in 2019.
Still only 22-year-old the Bayern Munich first-teamer is considered one of the world’s best left-sided fullbacks or wingbacks. He is known for his speed, dribbling skills and creative passing.
Since joining Bayern Alphonso was named ‘rookie of the season’ in the Bundesliga and helped them win the league, cup and EUFA Champions League.
- Jonathan David
At the time of writing Lille’s 22-year-old striker is on fire – with 15 goals in just 23 games.
Jonathan signed for the French Ligue One side for 30 million Euros, making him Canada’s most expensive player ever.
The imaginative striker can play as a main target man or as a number ten. He is strong and fast but also is known for constantly pressing defenders and working hard to help his own defence.
Great things are expected of the young Canada attacker who has already scored 86 goals in his professional career plus another 22 for the Canadian national team.
- Jacob Shaffelburg
The 23-year-old wide-player grew up in Nova Scotia but now plays for plays for Nashville in America’s MLS.
The superfast wide-man chose to sign a professional contract with Toronto FC instead of taking up a soccer scholarship to the University of Virginia.
In his first game for TFC his assist set up their fastest ever goal – just 29 seconds into the match.
- Ismael Kone
Ismael was born in the Ivory Coast but moved to Montreal as a toddler. The holder midfielder is a physical presence at 6ft 2ins – but is still only 20 years old.
He’s the current Canadian Young Player of the Year and a regular part of the Canadian national squad. Ismael signed for top English Championship side Watford for £4million in December 2022.
- Jayden Nelson
The 20-year-old speedy winger has joined Rosenborg in the top professional league in Norway, a club with a record of developing young talent.
Jayden is only 5ft 7 tall but has great balance and ball control. He was voted the 2019 Canadian Youth Player of the Year.
With developing players like these, Canadian football seems to be riding the crest of wave right now. The mainstay of the national team is still young and is only likely to get better.
Despite Canada being eliminated at the group stages at the World Cup, they impressed with their quality and attitude. Their young stars made many international observers take notice.
So the future looks rosy for soccer in Canada. The next big target will be progressing further in the 2026 World Cup.
It’s a great chance for Canada to improve its standing – the tournament finals are held in the USA, Mexico… and in Canada.