With the 2011 Gold Cup nearing, the majority of rosters have been named by the CONCACAF participants and the Whitecaps had one of their own named to the Canadian roster. Alternate captain Terry Dunfield will make his debut in a major international competition for Canada after making appearances in two friendlies for the national squad. While Dunfield will be a loss for Vancouver’s central midfield, the Caps did dodge a bullet as Jay DeMerit was not named to the USA roster for the Gold Cup as he has not played in enough matches since his injury.
It’s been quite a turnaround for Dunfield when it comes to his international career as he made his debut for the senior team on May 29th of last year at the age of 28. His only other experience with Canada was with the U23 and U20 teams where he had a combined seven matches. His story of making Manchester City youth system and the struggles, injury and his own poor choices, he went through after leaving his initial club is well known by most fans. A great write up on his career by The Province's Marc Weber can be read by clicking here.
After two years away from soccer it was his play in League 2 of England Soccer earned him a call up to the match against Venezuela which he almost missed. Because of passport issues, Dunfield missed his flight to join the squad but this did not stop him as he knew this may be his last chance to play for Canada. After convincing someone to sort out his passport, Dunfield bought his own ticket and after four flights he was able to join the team where he played 74 minutes in the 1-1 draw. Dunfield didn’t have to wait long for his second cap as the midfielder was called up three months later, due to injury, and started in the 2-1 win over Honduras on the 7th of September.
With Canada playing a 4-3-3 in their most recent international friendlies, Dunfield will most likely compete with Julian de Guzman for playing time as the holding midfielder. The Gold Cup’s compact schedule combined with questions of de Guzman’s fitness after a season ending injury from last year will give Dunfield an opportunity to see some playing time and may even see a start. Dunfield’s play with the Caps may also see him play an attacking role in the central midfield although there are multiple options for those roles on Canada.
When it comes to how Dunfield’s call up to the national squad effects the Whitecaps, it all depends on the status of certain players. Gershon Koffie has already solidified himself into a regular starting role in one of the central midfield spots. The other midfielder could be either rookie Jeb Brovsky, the only other to start in that position, or veterans Peter Vagenas, Kevin Harmse, John Thorrington. Both Vagenas and Harmse are still returning to full match fitness while Thorrington is still dealing with a calf injury. A wildcard could be Cameroonian midfielder Alex Morfaw who has impressed in his play in PDL action but has yet to see any time in the MLS.
The Whitecaps will lose Dunfield for a minimum two weeks due to the Gold Cup and it could be more if Canada advances further in the tournament. There may be some supporters in Vancouver who do not want see Dunfield leaving the Whitecaps for a month and join Canada’s national team. While it is a loss for the midfield, if it wasn’t for Stephen Hart and his talk to Dunfield about playing at a higher level, the Vancouverite may not have seen leaving his club in England and eventually join the Whitecaps.