TORONTO — Cyle Larin’s absence from the Canadian soccer team could be a short one.
Coach Octavio Zambrano said Wednesday that he plans to recall the Orlando City star striker for the knockout stage of the Gold Cup.
The 22-year-old from Brampton, Ont., arrested June 15 for drunk-driving in Florida, was not part of Zambrano’s 23-man roster released Tuesday. But teams are allowed to make six changes after the group phrase of the CONCACAF championship, providing the players involved were named to the squad’s 40-man preliminary roster — as Larin was.
Zambrano said Larin will be one of those changes, should the team progress.
“We communicated that to Cyle at the onset of this unfortunate incident,” Zambrano said. “We gave him our support, obviously. He made a mistake but we want to help our guys, to help our athletes overcome this type of situation.”
Zambrano said he told Larin he would give him the qualifying round “to sort things out.”
Eight of the 12 Gold Cup teams qualify for the knockout quarter-finals — the top two teams in each of the three groups and the two best third-place teams.
On Monday, MLS cleared Larin to return to action following an assessment by the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program as mandated in the collective bargaining agreement.
Larin has five goals in 14 appearances for Canada. A former MLS rookie of the year, he 39 goals in 74 regular season appearances.
Orlando has gone 0-1-2 in Larin’s absence.
Zambrano said Simeon Jackson was another candidate to be added to the roster if Canada advances.
The coach also said Orlando midfielder Will Johnson was initially on the 23-man roster.
“But we had a very frank, honest conversation. He feels that he needs to rest his knee a little bit. He has had some discomfort. Nothing major but he felt he needed to get some therapy.”
Given the travel involved with the tournament, the decision was made not to include the 43-cap veteran.
“He will be, obviously, called up in the future,” said Zambrano. “He’s very much part of the program.”
Zambrano said he left FC Dallas forward Tesho Akindele off the roster with an idea to calling him up for the Jamaica friendly in Toronto on Sept. 2.
“We need to rotate our players,” he said. “We can’t get right now locked in a group of players. We are bringing in different players at different times in order to see everyone. Because once (2022 World Cup) qualifiers come, we will have to have a pretty good inventory of what we’ve got on our hands.”
“Tesho is part of that,” he added. “Him, Marcus Haber, Nik Ledgerwood and other players that haven’t been part of these early activities, so to speak, (they) will see activity once we start to play other games.”
Zambrano said he elected not to pick midfielder Kianz Froese (Fortuna Dusseldorf, Germany) and fullback Juan Cordova (Huachipato, Chile) to allow them to consolidate their club positions.
“They need to earn themselves a starting position so that they can keep on growing as a player and then eventually return to us.”
The Canadian team heads to Florida on Sunday and will scrimmage against Nicaragua on Monday before heading to New Jersey on Tuesday for its July 7 tournament opener against French Guiana at Red Bull Arena.
Canada, ranked 109th in the world, will then play No. 19 Costa Rica on July 11 in Houston and No. 69 Honduras on July 14 in Frisco, Texas.
French Guiana is not a member of FIFA so is unranked.