Lukas MacNaughton's memorable 2022 has just become even better. A year which started with him being transferred to Toronto FC and making his MLS debut has now seen him earn another first.
As per Canada Soccer's official Twitter account, MacNaughton has earned his first ever call-up to their senior men's national team. They will be playing Baharin in a friendly game on November 11.
It is considered a long shot by many for MacNaughton to make the squad for the World Cup in Quatar. However, he at least has a chance to make an impression versus Bahrain and that's all you can really ask for.
In this respect, it is worth noting centre-back Scott Kennedy will not be going to the World Cup after suffering a shoulder injury last weekend for his club, Jahn Regensburg. As per Sportnet's Peter Galindo, Derek Cornelius and Joel Waterman have the edge, so it is up to MacNaughton to make his case.
Defender Lukas MacNaughton is one of seven Toronto FC players who have been called up by the Canadian men's national team for a pre-World Cup friendly
The 27-year-old has just completed his first season with Toronto FC. He started 20 of his 25 regular season appearances and is expected to remain part of a rebuilt back line next year.
Another factor in MacNaughton's call-up is due to the commitments of players who ply their trade abroad. Of the 21 players making the trip to Baharin, 20 are with MLS clubs.
Significant Toronto FC presence
Technically, MacNaughton is one of seven Toronto FC players called up by Canada. However, Doneil Henry will not be returning to Southern Ontario once his contract expires at the end of this year.
The other five TFC players travelling to Baharin include Richie Laryea, Jonathan Osorio, Ayo Akinola, Jayden Nelson and Ismael Kone, MacNaughton is the only one yet to be capped by Canada.
MacNaughton has been on a steady rise since he left the University of Toronto, where he played for the Toronto Varsity Blues. Now we wait to find out if he can continue his ascent by being named as one of the 26 players who will go to Quatar.
As per Times Colonist's Cleve Dheensaw, Canada head coach John Herdman dicussed the makeup of his roster on Tuesday. He said:
"Normally, 17 players will get the massive amount of playing time. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who those 16-17 guys are. The next level (below that) will contribute to the team in other ways. We used 39 players in qualifying, but the World Cup is a very different cadence, with three-to-four-day turnarounds, and you are not travelling 7,000 kilometres from hot to cold."
How do you think MacNaughton performed during his first year with Toronto FC? Do you see him being an integral part of a defence aiming to improve from two poor seasons? Let us know in the comments section below.