International Friendly Preview: Czech Republic - Canada

The 27th-ranked Europeans will be without some of their stars, but they still expect to handily defeat a Canadian side that has yet to taste victory in 2013.
The learning curve will continue to be a steep one for Benito Floro's Canada side.

The struggling men's national team - down to 111th in the FIFA world ranking - travels to Olomouc to meet the Czech Republic in a friendly on Friday, and Floro will be missing some of his most familiar faces. Among those who will not be in attendance are Portland Timbers captain Will Johnson, Burnley's David Edgar, Julian de Guzman, and Turkish-based midfielder Atiba Hutchinson.

The absences hamper a team already under a transformation under the Spanish head coach, who will have to work with nearly an entire midfield of youngsters and out-of-contract veterans. Former Toronto FC player Terry Dunfield has been summoned to help fill in the gaps, despite not having played a competitive match since parting ways with the MLS side several months ago.

Called into the squad late along with Dunfield is Vancouver Whitecaps prospect Caleb Clarke, who is currently on loan at FC Augsburg and spending time with the Bundesliga side's second team. Clarke will be looking to earn his first cap at the full national team level, and Canada will be hoping that he can translate his scoring form from club football to the international game.

On the other side of the field, the 27th-ranked Czech Republic is undergoing a bit of a transition of its own after failing to qualify for next year's World Cup. The Czechs will be looking ahead to Euro 2016 qualification, and the Canadians represent a first step toward that goal.

The home side will be missing a few key pieces on Friday, however. Arsenal's Tomas Rosicky and Vladimir Darida pf SC Freiburg have both dropped out of the squad after originally being named to the Czech roster, with the pair replaced by domestic-based Thomas Hořava and Josef Šural.

The Czechs last played on Oct. 15, when they defeated Bulgaria 1-0 in a meaningless World Cup qualifier. Canada's most recent game was a 3-0 loss to Australia in London on the same date.