Pacific FC’s Kadin Chung was one of the eight CPL players named to last year’s 50-man provisional shortlist for Canada’s Olympic qualifying team. A year later, and his name is on the new list, after the previous one was scrapped thanks to COVID-19.
And yet somehow, it feels different this time around. The 22-year-old fullback’s place on the list — in his mind, at least — was perhaps more convincingly earned this year, with his nine-game showing at the CPL’s Island Games putting him squarely on the map in Canada Soccer’s player pool. Chung suggested that, for him personally, the postponement of the 2020 Concacaf Olympic qualifiers last March was something of a blessing in disguise.
“It’s always an honour, especially something as big as the Olympics — that’s something that you don’t really consider growing up, it’s just kind of a dream that’s out there,” Chung told CanPL.ca of his reaction to making the 50-man roster. “I know the list changed a bit, so just to be on there for the second time it’s more of a reassurance that I did some things right last year, and that they were looking.”
He added: “I feel like my chances last year were a bit less than right now, just the fact that I think last season I had a much better year. If anything, obviously it’s always on my mind, but I think having it postponed actually worked a little bit in my favour.”
Chung was one of the most well-rounded fullbacks in the CPL during the season in PEI, forming a devastating one-two punch up the right flank with Marco Bustos during Pacific’s run to the second round. At the end of it all, he ranked among the league’s elite in tackles, recoveries, successful crosses, and line-breaking passes. He had the fourth-most touches at the tournament, which is rare for a fullback. And beyond the numbers, Chung was fantastic on both sides of the ball in 2020, rarely beaten one-on-one and always capable of springing an attack.
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On the face of it, all that should add up to a no-brainer for Mauro Biello when the coach picks his final 20-man Olympic qualifying squad. Chung, one of the most consistent CPLers over two years with Pacific, has probably earned the right to an opportunity with the way he played in 2020.
It’s not that simple, though. Unfortunately for Chung, the players he’s up against for a spot on the team are some of the most experienced at the international level on the 50-man list. Two fellow right-backs in the group — Marcus Godinho and Zachary Brault-Guillard — have been legitimate options for Canada’s senior national team in the past, and they have five and four international caps, respectively.
“You always want to be optimistic, but I know in my position specifically there’s a lot of good talent,” Chung admitted. “Fullbacks wise, I think three of the fullbacks in that list have all made senior appearances, two at right-back.”
Godinho, recently recovered from a long-term injury, played two 90-minute shifts for FSV Zwickau in the German third tier in February, although his health is not necessarily a sure thing at the moment — nor is it certain that all of Canada’s Europe-based players are available. Brault-Guillard, meanwhile, played almost every minute in MLS for CF Montréal last year (most recently, 90 minutes in the Concacaf Champions League against CD Olimpia in December).
It’s a very competitive position, but Chung is still satisfied that he’s done as much as he could with the games he was able to play last year for Pacific.
“I’m trying to be optimistic, I know it’s a good group so just being able to be considered with them is already very honouring for me,” Chung said. “Whatever happens is out of my hands, I feel like last year I put in performances to try to help my case, and at the end of the day if for them that’s not enough then at least I don’t have too many regrets, as opposed to if it was the year before.”
Regardless of whether Chung does end up making Canada’s 20-man final roster (due to be released no less than 10 days before the tournament kicks off on March 18), he pointed out that it’s good news for Pacific FC to have three players named to the shortlist. Alongside himself, defender Thomas Meilleur-Giguère and striker Terran Campbell earned nods, and both of them could well be in contention for spots in the final cut.
“I think it’s, first of all, great for our team that we had the number of players we had — and one from last year as well with Noah (Verhoeven) — but I think Tommy had a great year last year as well, and Terran over the past two seasons has been very good, so they’re very deserving. I’m not too familiar with some of the guys that they’re up against, but I know that they have good chances as well.”