International call-ups are back and the Columbus Crew will have at least one player wearing his country colors in September. Midfielder Liam Fraser has been called up to the Canada squad for the start of the third round of CONCACAF FIFA World Cup qualifiers, otherwise known as the CONCACAF Octagonal. The Canucks will play three matches in September as they begin their journey to its first FIFA World Cup since 1986.
The only other Columbus Crew player expected to leave for World Cup qualifiers is defender and captain Jonathan Mensah who was selected for the Ghana provisional roster. Winger Luis Diaz was not called up to the Costa Rica roster and American striker Gyasi Zardes is currently injured.
The 23-year old Fraser, a loanee from Toronto FC, has had a busy season with the Black & Gold playing in 12 games amassing 690 minutes of play. He has had to step in as a regular starter for the Columbus Crew after injuries to nearly every other central midfielder: Aidan Morris, Artur, Perry Kitchen, and Marlon Hairston.
Fraser is a staple of the Canadian national team and has already played five games in 2021 for his national team. He was a part of Canada’s World Cup qualifying roster earlier this year to defeat Haiti to advance to the final round along with the Gold Cup squad that lost in the semifinals to Mexico in July. In total, Fraser has made nine caps for the Canucks since his debut in 2019.
With Fraser gone from the Columbus Crew during the September international window, he will be unavailable for a Sep. 4 match at Orlando City, leaving the Crew with few options for central midfielders. Darlington Nagbe and Isaiah Parente will be the only two natural center midfielders on the roster for next week’s match but it is possible head coach Caleb Porter slots utility man Pedro Santos into the position in Florida.
The Canada squad for September’s qualifiers is strong with superstars Alphonso Davies of Bayern Munich and Jonathan David of Lille back from missing the Gold Cup. Fraser is also joined alongside New England Revolution right back and new Club Brugge signing Tajon Buchanon, Vancouver Whitecaps striker Lucas Cavallini, Reading winger Junior Hoillett and more. The Canucks roster makes them a favorite to finish in the top three in the CONCACAF Octagonal and qualify for the FIFA World Cup.
Canada begins its journey to Qatar on Thursday, Sept. 2 at BMO Field in Toronto against Honduras, a nation that has qualified for two of the last three World Cups. Les Rouges will then head south to Nashville for an anticipated Sunday night match against the United States at Nissan Stadium. The two sides met in the Gold Cup group stage with the Americans defeating Canada 1-0 in Kansas City.
The Canucks final match of this September slate will be on the 8th back home in Toronto against El Salvador, the second-lowest ranked team in the group. The expectation for Liam Fraser and Canada will be to win at least two of these matches before its three October games against Jamaica, Panama, and Costa Rica. Those games will be played from Oct. 7-13 and it's highly likely Fraser will leave Columbus during that period as well.