The Canada men’s national soccer team had a dreadful year, going winless in 13 games and scoring only once, but hope is on the horizon and it might just come in the form of a Winnipegger.
FC Northwest alumnus Dylan Carreiro was named the 2013 Canadian U20 men’s player of the year on Dec. 11.
The 18-year-old West End product is currently in his second season of professional soccer, playing for London’s Queens Park Rangers’ U21 squad. Carreiro said he’s very happy for the recognition and is having a blast playing the beautiful game in England.
"There are lots of opportunities to show yourself on the pitch and what you can do," said Carreiro of playing for QPR.
"Technically, it’s a lot like playing in Canada, it’s just the mentality is a bit different here. I think players want it more because they’re living and breathing football every day. It motivates them and makes them want to get to the next level and I think that’s one of the things I’ve picked up the most playing here."
Carreiro said he’s totally focused on football and hopes to make QPR’s first team next year. Earlier this year, he represented Canada at the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Men’s U20 Championship and in late September, he was called up to Canada’s senior squad, although he didn’t get any game time.
An attacking midfielder, if Carreiro does make an appearance at the senior level, Canadian soccer fans can expect to see a very aggressive footballer.
"I’m a player that likes to get on the ball a lot, likes to run at people and beat people and also create chances and score chances," Carreiro said.
"Mesut Özil (Arsenal) and David Silva (Manchester City), those are the two main guys I like watching play and I like to kind of imitate the way they play. I just like the way they get on the ball and the way they make things happen. They’re game changers. That’s what I like to be, a game changer."
Carreiro — who attended Clifton School as a boy and spent a year at Garden City Collegiate before moving at age 16 to play for Toronto FC — knows he’s still got a ways to go if he wants to be big-time soccer star.
"You can always improve on a lot of things, you’re learning day by day, and I’m learning to be more aware defensively," Carreiro said.
With players like himself and QPR teammate Michael Petrasso, Carreiro believes Canada’s football future is bright.
"There are a lot of great players coming out of Canada, and we’re showing it step by step, in every age group," Carreiro said. "The U17 World Cup, Canada made it to that. Age by age we’re going to start getting better and better."