There’s some good news in Fire nland, despite spending the weekend in a melancholy funk. Today it was announced that Francisco Calvo, Raheem Edwards, and Djordje Mihailovic were selected to their respective preliminary rosters for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
This doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to make the initial tournament squad, however. Due to the time in witch the tournament takes place, Teams that make the knockout rounds are allowed to make roster changes from the group stage. This allows players to attend preseason camps overseas, as well as release some MLS players back to their teams before the playoff pushes get started.
With that being said, what chances do the Fire’s players have making their respective rosters? Let’s take a look.
Francisco Calvo has the best chance of making his Costa Rica squad. He is essentially a regular. He was on the roster for the World Cup in 2018 and played in two of their three matches in the tournament. There’s no way he doesn’t make the roster for at least the group stage. And I doubt that he’ll be switched out in between the group stage and knockout stage, should they get that far.
Raheem Edwards, meanwhile, has very little international experience. The 23 year old has four previous call ups for Canada, and only one in the last year. What’s hurt his international the most throughout his young career is his lack of playing time at a club level, mostly caused by injuries, including the one that has plagued him since the beginning of April. This seems to me more like an insurance pick from Canada Soccer, and I don’t expect him to be selected for the full roster unless he has a hot run of form upon his return to the Fire squad.
Where Djordje Mihailovic fits into Gregg Berhalter’s plans is a bit of a mystery. We do know, however, that he seems high on the Fire homegrown. He impressed the January camp, and his call up here despite playing a different roll for the Fire shows that his national team future is bright.
However, there are two big obstacles to Djordje making his first competitive international tournament. The first is that there are really good players in front of him, including Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Wil Trapp. Central midfield is one of the most hotly contested roster spots, and while Djordje should be competitive, from that standpoint, he’s probably 50/50 to whether he gets put on the group stage roster.
The second thing is that Djordje plays a different role with the National Team than he does with the Men in Red. In January, he was in a duel 10 role with Cristian Roldan in a 4-3-3. He was allowed freedom to find spaces and get into the game. He was charged with creating plays, and had a lot of responsibility in the attack, while not having many defensive responsibilities.
With the Fire, he’s more of a box to box midfielder. With Nico Gaitán in the squad, he has less of the creative responsibilities, and needs to be more responsible on defense. He also seems to be less empowered to get forward, as Pauno prefers to have Katai and Nikolic be the targets in the box. Plus, with the way the Fire likes to have their center backs get forward, he has to stay more disciplined and entrenched farther back from the final third. This isn’t a deal breaker by any means. But when building a team for a competition, making sure players are comfortable in their spots is something to consider.
Regardless if they make the 23 player squads or not, this is good news. Despite how we feel as fans about how things are going, and how upset management makes us at times, It’s worth a reminder that there’s some value in the squad, and that other coaches think something of our players.
And that’s always validating.