A Gold Cup berth on the line

Piette and Brault-Guillard called up for important game against French Guiana

As Canada Soccer announced its 23-man squad for its last Concacaf Nations League qualifying game against French Guiana, there was never really any doubt that Impact midfielder Samuel Piette would make the cut. The Quebec native already has 40 caps for the national team, including 26 starts, and has become an integral part of the starting 11 in the past few years. 

He’ll be joined by his teammate, Zachary Brault-Guillard, who had first joined the Canadian program in 2016.

“It’s always great to represent your country, especially in an official game,” said Piette, speaking to the media at Centre Nutrilait. “This is our last game before the Gold Cup, so the competition within the group should be intense.”

Piette will have memories of Canada’s last Gold Cup, in 2017, during which he started all four games for the Reds, including the quarterfinal loss to Jamaica that saw them ousted from the tournament. The team will look a little different this time around, most notably with head coach John Herdman now at the helm.

“John has really changed the mentality and the culture within the team,” added Piette. “It’s getting harder and harder to break into the line-up, or to even make the 23-man squad. There are high-quality players here, so every time you give your best to receive another call-up.”

Working with Herdman

Piette made his debut with the senior team when he was just 17 years old, back in 2012. He’s risen through the program’s ranks and worked with many coaches over the years. Having familiarized himself with Herdman’s vision since he took over the senior men’s side a little over a year ago, Piette is excited to see what the future holds for the national team.

“John knows the culture of the program really well,” explained Piette. “He’s extremely disciplined. There’s so much organization at every training. There’s always a follow-up and what seems like 1,000 PowerPoints at every camp. He knows the group really well and he knows how far he can take this team.”

A win against French Guiana would confirm Canada’s spot in the summer’s continental tournament and ensure its promotion to Concacaf Nations League Group A. Canada may still qualify with a loss, although it would depend on other scores, as only the top 10 teams in Concacaf Nations League qualifying make the cut. Canada is currently ranked third, with three wins and nine points through three games.

“With the new players and our new mentality, I don’t think we can aim for anything less than the semifinals. We’re going there to win and I think we have an opportunity to do so. It’s very exciting.”