It’s been just under a year since Benito Floro took over at the helm of the Canadian Men’s National Team. During that time period the Spaniard has called up a large number of players, including many veterans of the program and a large number of youngsters.
One player who has been notable for his lack of appearances under Floro is midfielder Will Johnson, who was team captain for Canada at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
According to the 27 year old Portland Timbers stalwart, his absence from the Canadian setup has simply been due to variety of circumstances.
“There isn’t really a specific reason,” Johnson told RedNation. “Last year was a difficult year for me and a contract year in MLS. I had to get settled in a new city and I have a young family and a wife who needs me to help out since we are kind of on our own. So I just had to take a step back for personal reasons. It has nothing do with the CSA or Benito or anything like that. It’s been my own personal reasons.”
With the Canadian Men’s National Team due to make their first appearance under Floro on home soil in Toronto on September 9th against Jamaica, it will be interesting to see the makeup of the squad that the former Real Madrid Manger calls up.
Regardless of whether Floro elects to go with a veteran heavy lineup or gives a large number of young players another opportunity, it likely that Johnson’s return to the Canadian team will have to wait for a little bit longer.
“It’s right around the day that my son is due to be born,” Johnson explained. “I’d like to play in the game but unless something drastic happens, I probably won’t make that game.”
Asked about his impressions of Floro to date, Johnson was quick to admit that he doesn’t yet have a comprehensive opinion.
“It’s a good question,” Johnson said. “I haven’t been in and I’ve never met him, so it is a tough one to answer for me.”
“He has given the young guys a chance and I think that has been good,” he added. “We have a lot of young guys getting experience, which is good for the future. I like what I have seen with his rosters and his youth philosophy. Obviously, it is a long-term project, so they just have to give him the time to implement his ideas.”
Whether or not Floro elects to use his remaining matches in 2014 to continue to give experience to the young players in the Canadian player pool, most national team observers expect the senior men’s team program to shift gears next year from a focus on development towards achieving more measureable results, especially with the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup scheduled to take place next summer.
With Johnson having represented Canada at the last three Gold Cup tournaments, the Toronto-born midfielder is hopeful that he will be able to participate in his fourth straight edition of the regional championship.
“I would hope to be part of the team at the Gold Cup,” Johnson stated. “At some point I want to jump back in if I am called up on. I’d like to be part of something like that tournament. But hopefully I get in before that. We’ll see.”
Of course the big prize and the main objective for Floro and the Canadian program is a berth at the 2018 World Cup. Asked if the excitement surrounding the most recent edition of the biggest sports event in the world has him feeling inspired regarding Canada’s possible qualification for Russia 2018, Johnson admitted that he simply enjoyed the Brazil World Cup as a fan of the beautiful game.
“I don’t think we need any more inspiration,” Johnson said. “It’s fun to watch and obviously you want to be there and to take your country there. But at the same time it is more fun to just watch it and enjoy it.”
“I don’t think we need any more inspiration as we are desperate to get there,” Johnson added. “What it would mean for soccer in this country, it isn’t something that you can put into words. It would be so massive.”