Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Louisville City FC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye said he was pleased for the opportunity after being named on Saturday as part of an 18-man Canada U23 National Team squad that will head to Qatar this week for a pair of games against Uzbekistan and Qatar, the hosts of the Aspire U-23 Tournament.
“It’s always nice to get called up to a national team camp,” Kaye said. “I’m pleased with the selection, and hopefully I can go there and perform well again. I think these camps mean a lot. I’ve got to go in there with the right mentality and mindset.”
Kaye made his first two appearances for the Canada U23’s last May when he was selected for a trip to the Caribbean and appeared in victories against Guyana and Grenada. A former member of Toronto FC II, Kaye quickly fit into Louisville’s lineup in his first season with the club, recording 24 appearances and notching a goal and three assists.
Louisville Head Coach James O’Connor said Kaye’s work, particularly to continue growing his game this offseason, had paid off with the selection.
“We are delighted for Mark-Anthony, as it’s such a prestigious honor to represent your country,” said O’Connor. “He has worked hard in the offseason, and this is a nice reward for that work.”
Kaye’s selection will leave O’Connor with one fewer player to work with as City kicks off its regular season campaign. With the contests against Uzbekistan next Saturday and against Qatar on March 28, Kaye is set to be unavailable for Louisville’s opening two games of the season at home to Saint Louis FC and on the road against Orlando City B.
With the opportunity to make a strong impression – alongside the other nine current and former USL players named in the U23 squad – in front of new Canada Head Coach Octavio Zambrano, who will join up with the side after Canada’s game on Wednesday in Scotland, Kaye believes the experience will benefit him when he returns to Louisville ahead of three key games to start the month of April.
“It definitely does help you improve, because you’re playing with the top players from your age group,” the 22-year-old said. “They’ll bring a lot of experiences from different places – MLS, abroad in Europe – so it’s a different environment. The international level definitely gives you can extra push when you come back to your domestic league.”