Victoria's Adam Straith returns to national soccer side

A familiar face and set of feet will return to patrol the back line for Canada in soccer.

After a noticeable absence, Adam Straith of Victoria has drawn back in for the national team.

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The defender out of Oak Bay, who plays pro for Hansa Rostock in Germany’s third division, was named Wednesday to the Canadian team for two games against Cuba.

Straith has 43 caps for Canada, but has not proven a favourite call-up option since John Herdman took over the national team in January of 2018. In fact, this is Straith’s first call to the national side under Herdman.

Herdman’s team has not played since blowing a 2-0 lead in a 3-2 loss to No. 83 Haiti in June at the Gold Cup.

The first game of the Canada-Cuba home-and-away series, in the 2019-20 CONCACAF Nations League competition, is Sept. 7 at BMO Field in Toronto and the second game Sept. 10 in George Town, Grand Cayman. The series is part of a four-game set that includes a home game against the U.S. at a site to be decided on Oct. 15 and an away game against the U.S. on Nov. 15.

The winner of the Canada-Cuba-U.S. group will advance to the CONCACAF League A’s Final Four playoff next June.

Straith rejoins a youthful national team led by the likes of Alphonso Davies of Bayern Munich.

“This squad of players are hungry for success and want to qualify for the Final Four,” said Herdman.

“We’ve put down some strong roots over the last 18 months in our cultural and tactical approaches, and we will be doing everything in this series of games to take our country to the next level.”

Six players will earn their first caps against Cuba, so Straith will be asked to provide stability and experience on the back line. The 28-year-old was left off this summer’s team for the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup after playing in the previous two Gold Cups. The Bays United and Lower Island Metro product was also part of the Canadian World Cup qualifying campaigns for Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018. The Islander brings a depth of practicality and understanding, including his more than 40 caps for Canada, which was obviously hard even for Herdman to ignore.

Before joining Hansa Rostock this season, Straith played 66 games and scored four goals for German third-division team Sportfreunde Lotte from 2017 to 2019.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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