Canada's soccer team can dare to dream | Soccer | CBC Sports

SoccerCanada's soccer team can dare to dream

Posted: Monday, March 26, 2012 | 10:27 AM

Back to accessibility links
Canada's Lucas Cavallini (13) celebrates with Samuel Piette (8) and Randy Edwini-Bonsu (19) after Cavallini scored a goal against the United States in the second half of a CONCACAF Olympic qualifying soccer match on Saturday in Nashville, Tenn. Canada won 2-0. (Mark Humphrey/Associated Press) Canada's Lucas Cavallini (13) celebrates with Samuel Piette (8) and Randy Edwini-Bonsu (19) after Cavallini scored a goal against the United States in the second half of a CONCACAF Olympic qualifying soccer match on Saturday in Nashville, Tenn. Canada won 2-0. (Mark Humphrey/Associated Press)

Beginning of Story Content

It was a weekend for winners. Tiger Woods dominated the field at Arnie's place to register his first proper PGA victory since his world went up in smoke. Thomas Mulcair outlasted his rivals to become Jack Layton's successor as leader of the NDP and Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.
It was a weekend for winners.
 
Tiger Woods dominated the field at Arnie's place to register his first proper PGA victory since his world went up in smoke. Thomas Mulcair outlasted his rivals to become Jack Layton's successor as leader of the NDP and Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.
 
Then there were Canada's aspiring Olympians. Not, with all due respect, the women - they're already going to London and good luck to them. l'm talking about the men's Under-23 soccer team, which hasn't tasted the Olympic experience in a generation. To refresh your memory it was 1984 when Canada forced Brazil into extra time before losing the quarter-final in a penalty shootout.
 
Six Summer Games have come and gone without Canada's involvement and 2012 may be no different, and the world will not miss them if they fail to make the cut again this time round.
 
But for the first time in a long time we have permission to dream.
 
Canada's stunning 2-nil victory over the United States was nothing if not deserved.
 
Unexpected, certainly, but this was no fluke result. Coach Tony Fonseca's team rolled up its sleeves, went to work with a plan, stuck to its guns and reaped the reward.
 
Not all the names will be familiar, even to followers of Canadian soccer, and that's no bad thing for this was a consummate team effort in which every member pulled his weight. The Americans had no complaints and nothing to crow about. For once the U.S. was beaten fair and square by the better team.
 
Let's put this in context: Canadian soccer successes against the United States are rare gems. It is almost 20 years since Canada last beat the U.S. during the Olympic qualifying process. In May 1992 the Canadians topped their Americans cousins 2-1, but by that stage the U.S. had already booked its berth in Barcelona.
 
Enough with the history lesson. What about the present - why now, after all these years, did the Canucks manage to get the better of the noisy neighbours? Is it merely the law of averages or something more deep and meaningful? Even good teams lose games once in a while.
 
Did this Canadian dog have its day and will it now retreat politely and obediently back to its kennel?
 
Maybe - maybe not. As Fonseca himself put it, there is a long way to go before his group of young professionals can start thinking about having their photos taken in front of Big Ben. I would suggest the surest way to prevent that happening is to allow minds to wander on the back of one outstanding performance.
 
Any professional athlete will give you the same advice. One of the secrets of success is to stay in the moment and focus, solely, on the job at hand. Harvest the positives and move on. If this Canadian team does not believe in itself after defeating a full strength American side, it never will.
 
I had the dubious pleasure of watching two Canadian teams play on the weekend. First I was present to witness the Canadian champions flop in front of their own fans. Inept and lethargic are two of the more printable words which spring to mind when reflecting on Toronto FC's home opener.
 
My overriding sense that Season 6 is already starting to look a lot like Season 5 was overridden events 1,200 kilometres to the south. Having weathered the early storm, Canada's U23s grew in confidence and stature as realization dawned they were not in Nashville, Tenn., simply to make up the numbers.
 
All the ingredients which had been missing earlier in the day were suddenly on display. Determination, organization, and timing, not to mention a little flair from time to time, were all hallmarks of this famous Canadian success story.
 
On another day Doneil Henry might well have been warming the bench at BMO Field. A life saving tackle at one end and a towering header at the other guaranteed an exceptional day at the office.
 
On another day Nana Attakora might have been doing likewise had San Jose not decided he was surplus to requirements. He captained his country with pride, passion and whole hearted commitment but apparently he's not good enough to earn an MLS contract.
 
By year's end I hope Canada's win over the U.S. is not among the highlights of 2012. If it is, it will mean the Canadians failed to finish the job and, once again, were absent from the Olympic Games. A joyous but isolated triumph over the old enemy will be just that with no end product.
 
Walking disconsolately back to the car along the blustery Toronto lakeshore I couldn't help but smile sarcastically at a sign which read simply: "Canada Blooms." Only later was the prophecy revealed.

End of Story Content

Back to accessibility links

Story Social Media

End of Story Social Media

Comments are closed.