Mixed emotions for TFC’s stars during the September international break.
Seven Toronto FC players went off to represent their countries during the latest set of World Cup Qualifiers. With the tournament in Qatar just over one year away, it is almost crunch time in each of FIFA’s member association’s qualification processes.
The September squads of Canada, El Salvador, Jamaica, Venezuela and the Democratic Republic of Congo featured at least one TFC star, but just how did each player fare over the last two weeks of international action?
Canada – Richie Laryea, Jonathan Osorio, Liam Fraser
It’s safe to say that the Canadian men’s national team can look back on quite a fruitful September international break.
Five points from three games has Les Rouges sitting in second place, just two points behind current leaders Mexico. John Herdman’s men earned a point against Honduras and the USA respectively before capping off an impressive camp with a 3-0 win over El Salvador at BMO Field.
Richie Laryea was undoubtedly one of Canada’s standout stars over the last two weeks as the No. 22 started and played the full 90 in each of Les Rouges’ matches. In addition to his robust performances, Laryea provided the assist for Atiba Hutchinson’s strike during the victory against El Salvador.
After not playing against Honduras, Jonathan Osorio made his first appearance of the Octagon against the USA, coming off the bench for the final 13 minutes. The midfielder then started and played 70 minutes against El Salvador where he was a crucial figure in the build up to Hutchinson’s opener.
TFC loanee Liam Fraser was an unused substitute in all three matches.
Jamaica – Kemar Lawrence
The Reggae Boyz already have ground to make up after recording just one point from their opening three games.
Back-to-back defeats to Mexico and Panama were followed by a draw with Costa Rica, which leaves Jamaica bottom of the table and with work to do ahead of their October fixtures.
Kemar Lawrence was heavily involved as he played all 270 minutes of his country’s matches. Against Costa Rica, the former Anderlecht defender not only made his 60th international appearance, but he also grabbed the assist for Shamar Nicholson’s headed equalizer.
El Salvador – Eriq Zavaleta
Some predicted that El Salvador had the potential to be the Octagon’s dark horse, and after two goalless draws against the USA and Honduras, it very much looked as though they could compete with some of CONCACAF’s finest.
Yet, against Canada, Eriq Zavaleta and co. were brought right back down to Earth following a humbling 3-0 defeat at BMO Field.
Like Laryea and Lawrence, Zavaleta played in all three of his side’s games, but he did not complete the full 90 against Honduras, which was possibly due to the yellow card he picked up midway through the first half.
El Salvador’s captain has now overseen eight clean sheets in his 11 total international appearances, but following a lacklustre display in front of a hostile crowd in Toronto, Zavaleta will surely be excited to return to BMO Field as a TFC player on September 14th against Inter Miami.
Venezuela – Yeferson Soteldo
It was an international break to forget for Yeferson Soteldo and Venezuela as La Vinotinto suffered three defeats from three.
Now rock bottom in CONMEBOL’s traditional 10-nation qualifying tournament, Venezuela is six points behind the inter-confederation playoff spot (5th) and eight behind fourth place (minimum finish for automatic qualification to Qatar 2022).
Soteldo got on the scoresheet in his side’s September opener, but it was mere consolation as 10-man Venezuela fell 3-1 to Lionel Messi and Argentina.
Three days later, Venezuela were subject to another red card and another defeat, this time at the hands of Peru, who leapfrogged their rivals into ninth. Their third defeat of the camp came on the road to Paraguay, leaving Venezuela with quite the mountain to climb after officially playing half of their qualifiers.
TFC’s latest DP notched a total of 249 minutes over the three games.
Democratic Republic of Congo – Chris Mavinga
Unfortunately for Mavinga, administrative issues regarding his passport restricted the 30-year-old from playing in both of his nation’s two qualifying matches.
Reports in the DRC claim that he and another one of his compatriots had passport trouble and thus, could not feature for their country.
Following a pair of draws against Tanzania and Benin, the DRC sit third in Group J with four games left to play. Only the group winner will advance to CAF’s third and final round of WCQ.