Photo courtesy of Canada Soccer
With the next World Cup only a year away, contending nations in the CONCACAF Gold Cup have assembled distinctly young squads, something Louisville City FC’s Mark-Anthony Kaye hopes to use to his advantage starting this week.
The 22-year-old midfielder and the Canada National Team recently wrapped up a five-day training camp in Ontario. They’ll open group stage play at 7 p.m. Friday against French Guiana at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. Fox Sports 2 will broadcast it live.
“Training has been going well,” Kaye said. “There’s a real sense of everyone wanting to get something out of this. It’s good to be around players that are very technical and have really good abilities that you can learn from.”
Kaye, a Toronto native, last week earned a second full call up after a successful debut. He made LouCity’s first national team appearance on June 13, coming on in the 79th minute of a 2-1 Canada win over Curacao in Montreal.
The international friendly served as a sendoff leading into Canada’s run at the Gold Cup, a championship for North American, Central American and Caribbean nations. Canada’s other group stage games are set for July 11 against Costa Rica in Houston (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1), and on July 14 against Honduras in Frisco, Texas (10 p.m., Fox Sports 1).
“Obviously, Costa Rica, they were in the World Cup and did well,” Kaye said. “Other than that, I don’t know much. I think we just need to really focus on ourselves considering it’s a big transition with the national team with a new coach coming in.
“So we can’t worry too much about other teams. We kind of have to set the foundation for what we want to do. I think as long as all the other guys are motivated and,I would say, buy into what the coach is saying, I think we should have a great run in the tournament.”
Costa Rica has eliminated Canada in World Cup qualifying the last two cycles, while Honduras won its last meeting with Canada.
Regardless of how far his side advances, Kaye sees value in the call up. He pointed out English Premier League member Burnley FC midfielder Scott Arfield in particular as a player after which he can model his own game.
“He’s unreal,” Kaye said. “He’s so clean technically — just all-around good player. It’s good see even play with him in training — have him on my team sometimes in training — because I can compare myself to him and I’m like, ‘He’s at the highest level.’
“So it’s good to be around players like that because you know what standards you need to get to and how hard you need to push yourself to succeed. I think for him, yeah he’s one of the players that I really caught my eye and just watching in awe.”
CONCACAF GOLD CUP
Taking place every two years, the CONCACAF Gold Cup is the official national team championship of North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Drawing large crowds and millions of television viewers from across the region, the Gold Cup is a celebration of soccer, sportsmanship, and culture.
Canada are two-time CONCACAF champions, having won the CONCACAF Championship in 1985 and the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2000. Since the first edition of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 1991, Canada's best finishes are first place in 2000 and semi-final finishes in 2002 and 2007.