Goalkeeper Quillan Roberts is among six Toronto FC players selected to represent Canada in the Confederation of North, Central American & Caribbean Associations of Soccer (CONCACAF) Olympic qualifying competition.
Canada is among eight teams in the qualifying series to be played from October 1-13 in the United States. The national side is in the same group with the host country, which it faces on the opening day of the competition; Panama, which it meets on October 3 and Cuba, which it opposes three days later.
The other group comprises Costa Rica, Haiti, Honduras and Mexico.
The top two teams will advance to the Rio Olympics next summer while the third-best team will progress to an intercontinental playoff against Colombia.
“The Olympics come along once every four years, so it’s very important for the players and countries,” said Canada’s Olympic coach, Benito Floro. “We have a good group of players and we are going to work hard to achieve a spot in Brazil.”
While the CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers must feature players 22 or younger (they will be 23 years or younger in 2016), next year’s roster at the Rio Games soccer tournament can feature three players of any age.
With the exception of defender Mark-Anthony Kaye, the other 19 players selected have been part of a national youth camp.
Roberts, who in 2013 was the recipient of a Harry Jerome Award for excellence in sport, made his international soccer debut for Canada’s senior men’s team last March in a 3-0 win over Puerto Rico in a friendly international.
At the 2011 International Soccer Federation (FIFA) Under-17 World Cup in Mexico, he made history by becoming the first goalkeeper to score a goal in a FIFA tournament.
With Canada trailing England 2-1 with about three minutes left in regulation time in their group match, Roberts’ clearing kick from close to centre field skidded high off the wet outfield over the head of stunned English goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford.
A total of 16 teams will play in the Rio Olympics men’s tournament from August 3-20.
Argentina, Fiji, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Portugal and the host country have already qualified for the Olympics.