By RON FANFAIR
Three-time Canadian Player of the Year Dwayne DeRosario is among five Toronto FC players named in the national squad now in training in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for a friendly soccer international against Jamaica at the National Stadium in Kingston on January 31.
The 30-year-old midfielder, who last represented Canada in a friendly international in Martinique two years ago, led Toronto FC to the Nutralite Canadian championship, scoring a hat-trick in the decisive game against Montreal last year.
He won the Honda Most Valuable Player, the Budweiser Golden Boot and Daily Keno Goal of the Year awards in his first season with Toronto FC. He netted a club record 11 goals and six assists in 28 games and was tied for fourth in Major League Soccer (MLS) scoring.
The other Toronto FC teammates in the national squad are Julian DeGuzman, Ali Gerba, Adrian Serioux and two-time Canadian Under-20 player Nana Attakora.
“To finally get a call up means a lot to me,” said Attakora. “It is a special moment for me and I just want to learn as much as possible. With the Under-23 team, I am around players that I know and have been playing with for a long time, so stepping up to the senior team is a different challenge and experience.”
The defender’s playing time with Toronto FC in MLS increased significantly last season from 318 minutes in 2008 to 1652 minutes this season.
Attakora started in 19 of the 20 games he appeared in and registered two goals and four assists. He was named Man-of-the-Match in the September 12 contest against Colorado Rapids which Toronto FC won 3-2 (he scored one of the goals, his first in the MLS) and the October 10 match against San Jose Earthquakes that ended in a 1-1 draw. The defender was also named Toronto FC’s Player of the Month in June and August.
“I had a good year, but I want to keep improving as a player,” he said. “I have been working hard to get stronger, especially in my legs, and just doing everything I can to stay fit and focused and get ready for the upcoming season. Being around top players will just help me to develop even further and it is great to have players like DeRosario and Julian there to help me.”
Attakora is one of four players to be drafted into the senior national squad for the first time. The others are former Toronto FC goalkeeper David Monsalve and midfielders Carlo Rivas and Massih Wassey.
“We brought in young players for a number of reasons,” said Stephen Hart who was appointed the full-time coach last month. “We want them to experience an international senior camp and become familiar with our methods. We also want to observe them in an international match.”
Striker Teal Bunbury, meanwhile, became the first Canadian to be selected in the first round of the MLS Super draft when he was picked fourth by the Kansas City Wizards last week.
Bunbury’s father, Guyanese-born Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame inductee Alex Bunbury, played for the same MLS team a decade ago.
“It’s an amazing feeling being able to say that my dad played for the Kansas City Wizards and now I am going to the same club,” said the University of Akron player/student. “I feel honoured and privileged to carry on the Bunbury name.”
Teal, who has represented Canada at the Under-17 and Under-20 levels, was born in Hamilton when his father – a two-time Canadian Player of the Year who scored 16 goals in 64 appearances for Canada from 1986-1999 – played for the Toronto Blizzard.