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Floro calls up Clarke for friendly saying he's keen to work with youngster

11/14/2013 05:54 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
Benito Floro sees Caleb Clarke as one of Canada's most promising young strikers, and didn't want to waste any time before working with him.

So Canada's men's soccer coach summoned the 20-year-old for Friday's friendly against the Czech Republic in Olomouc, saying the sooner he could get his figurative hands on Clarke the better.

"I knew about Caleb because people close to me showed me a match when he was very young," Floro said after Thursday's training session. "I understand that a striker is always a striker. I think he's a typical striker. At this moment I think it's necessary to form this player as soon as possible because he's tall, he's fast, has power, and he plays well.

"Maybe he needs some technical (improvements) but I need to form this player because I think he's an excellent striker for us."

The six-foot-one Clarke, a Vancouver Whitecaps striker who is on loan with FC Augsburg II in Germany, was added to the 22-player roster earlier this week, earning his first senior team call-up along with Montreal Impact defender Karl W. Ouimette.

Midfielder Terry Dunfield, who has been without a club since he was waived by Toronto FC in June, was also added to the roster this week. Floro said his decision was based on that three veteran midfielders — Atiba Hutchinson, Julian de Guzman and David Edgar — are unavailable due to injury, and Samuel Piette, who plays for Fortuna Dusseldorf, has club commitments.

"So we're speaking about four central midfielders and I think Terry is a good professional. He's training very hard," Floro said.

The Canadians, currently ranked a career-low No. 111 by FIFA, face a stiff test against the No. 27 Czechs. Canada plays No. 30 Slovenia in Celje on Tuesday to wrap up Floro's third camp since he took over as coach in August.

Canada is coming off a 3-0 loss to 57th-ranked Australia earlier this month in London, a result that stretched Canada's winless streak to 12 games (0-9-3). The Canadians were outscored 24-2 in that stretch, and haven't scored in their last eight games, spanning 12 hours 32 minutes.

The Canadians played Mauritania in two games prior to the Australia friendly, resulting in a scoreless draw and a 1-0 loss.

"You need to create the scoring chance and to finish it," Floro said. "But at this moment the first matches against Mauritania we created a lot of scoring chances but we didn't finish correctly. It was the same in the first half against Australia but we made a lot of chances. It was enough to score two or three goals."

Floro was asked whether Canada would be better off playing lower-ranked teams in an effort to regain some confidence.

"For me there are three ways to improve our level," Floro said." One of them is to prepare not only the first team (but also) the Olympic team because it is the base in a year or two. They will be the base of the men's national team.

"The other way is to make a lot of camps and a lot of friendly matches. The last is thinking about going up in our FIFA ranking because it is very important to think about the next (World Cup) qualifications. At the same time we need to test our level with teams that are above us."

Floro has been tasked with turning around the Canadian team ahead of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, and much of his time with his new squad has been teaching team tactics.

The coach said it may take a few more games before there is noticeable improvement.

"There are collective actions, and individual ones, that we need to improve. Normally a player understands how to mark man-to-man but we are speaking about collective defending and how to press collectively or how to drop off," he said. "At this moment we can say that our plan, it's necessary that we need two or three more months with three or four matches more so that the players can understand perfectly."

Floro said he would play his first team Friday versus the Czechs, then change up the roster to insert some of the younger players against Slovenia.

The Czechs missed out on World Cup qualifying, finishing third in their group behind Italy and Denmark with a 4-3-3 record. Slovenia (5-5-0) also failed to qualify, playing third in its pool behind Switzerland and Iceland.

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