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Canada turns to youth at Gold Cup

OXNARD, California -- With Canada not participating in the CONCACAF hexagonal for World Cup qualifying, the Gold Cup is a perfect competition for interim coach Colin Miller to assess and begin to retool the team for the 2018 qualifying tournament and other competitions. Miller has decided to drop some of the "old guard players" such as 35-year-old midfielder-forward and captain Dwayne De Rosario, Canada's all-time leading goal-scorer (20 goals in 73 international appearances) and give some younger talent some experience in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The only player over 30-years-old on the 23-man roster is midfielder Julian De Guzman, 32, as the rest of the squad is composed of international veterans and players in their earlier twenties.

Taking over the captaincy will be midfielder Will Johnson, 26, who has earned 32 caps and scored three goals.

The Canadians, who have participated in 10 of 11 previous Gold Cups, have experienced the highest of highs and, at times, disappointment.

They are the only country other than the United States and Mexico to win the continental competition, taking home the trophy with a 2-0 win over invited side Colombia in the final.  They reached the knockout round via a coin-toss tie-breaker with the Republic of Korea and stunned three-time defending champion Mexico in the quarterfinals, 2-1, on a goal by Richard Hastings.  The Maple Leafs swept the major awards as goalkeeper Craig Forrest earned MVP honors, while Carlo Corazzin won the Golden Boot.  The Canadians also finished third at the 2002 tourney and were eliminated in the semifinals by the U.S. in 2007.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Canadians were eliminated from the opening round of the 2011 tournament on Luis Tejada's stoppage-time goal by eventual semifinalist Panama, 1-1.  De Rosario had scored Canada's lone goal.  In fact, De Rosario tallied both of Canada's goal in three games in that competition. After De Rosario suffered a knee injury last year, the Canadians' chances of reaching the CONCACAF hexagonal were severely dented.

Goal-scoring long has been the Maple Leafs' main concern.  They certainly can knock the ball around with the best of them, but when it comes time to shoot, outside of De Rosario, finding a consistent scorer has been a challenge.

The players on the team selected by Miller for Gold Cup have recorded 22 international goals in total.  Forward Simeon Jackson tops the list with six tallies.

The Maple Leafs kick-off the Gold Cup against Martinique in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. on Sunday and take on Mexico in Seattle on July 11.  They will have any opportunity to exact some sporting revenge on Panama at Sports Authority Field in Denver, Colo. on July 14, the final opening-round Group A encounter.

 
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