Richmond's Caleb Clarke has joined the national team in Mexico City for a week long training camp leading up to the 2013 CONCACAF U20 Championships which take place Feb. 18 to March 2.
The Vancouver Whitecaps forward had an impressive previous stint for Canada back in November when he scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Costa Rica to conclude a training camp in Florida. Whitecaps midfielder Bryce Alderson and Residency member Yassin Essa are also among the 23 players in Mexico City.
Up for grabs at the CONCACAF Championships will be four spots for the confederation at the FIFA U20 World Cup Turkey 2013 in June. The event is taking place in Puebla, Mexico.
"It will be a difficult tournament," predicts U20 head coach Nick Dasovic. "Our goal for now is to make it to the quarter-final match which will give us a one-off chance to qualify for the FIFA U20 World Cup.
"Whether we enter the match as a first or second seed from our group, we will deal with that."
Clarke, 19, is a product of the Richmond Youth Soccer Association and one of the original members of the Whitecaps Residency Program. He signed his first professional contract last April and made his Major Soccer League debut in August against Dallas.
To qualify for the FIFA U20 World Cup, Canada will need to finish in either first or second place in Group B that also includes Cuba and Nicaragua. If the Canadians are successful in qualifying for the knock-out stages, they will have a quarter-final match against a team from Group A with a spot at Turkey 2013 on the line.
Dasovic stated that his team will be buoyed by an increased number of players playing in professional environments both at home and abroad, but also cautioned that in the same way that Canada has improved its player development structure in recent years - the same can be said about many of the competing nations.