Swope Park Rangers defender Amer Didic and forward Mark Anthony Gonzalez have been called in to the Canada Under-23 National Team for a tournament later this month in Qatar. The Canada U-23s will play pair of games against Uzbekistan and Qatar on March 25 and 28, respectively, meaning the duo will miss the opening two games of the SPR season.
It’s the first-ever inclusion in a Canada youth national team for both second-year Rangers players and follows a season where Didic was a USL All-League First Team selection and a finalist for Defender of the Year, while Gonzalez tallied a team-best 12 goals.
Didic, 22, made 32 appearances in his rookie year for the Rangers in 2016, scoring one goal – the game-winner in the regular-season finale against Seattle Sounders FC 2 on Sept. 24, 2016. He was the first SPR player to be called up to Sporting KC and started three games in the CONCACAF Champions League last year before spending significant time training with the side in 2017, scoring a goal in the Desert Diamond Cup against the Colorado Rapids.
Gonzalez, 22, played in 31 games as a rookie last year, adding a team-best 12 goals. Last June, Gonzalez led the league in goals scored by one individual player that month with five. His three goals in the USL Cup Playoffs were tied for the team-lead after scoring twice in the Western Conference Quarterfinal against LA Galaxy II and once in the Western Conference Semifinal against Orange County SC.
Didic and Gonzalez were named Swope Park Rangers Defensive and Offensive Players of the Year during Sporting KC’s annual Pitch Black awards night on Oct. 8, 2016.