The world must be on its head.
The Canadian men's national soccer
team was in a game where they deserved to win and then, gasp, they did.
A strange occurrence, which few wandering through the wilderness of
Canadian soccer has ever seen. Call it a Bigfoot moment. Call it a UFO
Call it what you want. But, for a squad which managed a 1-0 win at home
over Panama and then ripped top place in the group from its opponent's
hands, the narrative of a Canadian team that chronically underperforms
is starting to be played out.
For long suffering national team
followers, Friday night had been years in the making - a game where the
Canadians lived up to the expectations, in a game where they had to. Too
many bad memories of Canada getting a sniff at what could have been
have bubbled up through the ether over the years. Watching the sweaty
masses stumble around in their daze following the victory - it was clear
they have been left alone in the woods too long.
secure the full three points at home would have meant travelling to
Panama next week to seek out a must-win. Now it's more of an
it-would-be-nice if they won.Canada in comfortable position
a comfortable position and one that now leaves Canada very much in
control of where it goes from here. And much like head coach Stephen
Hart's players did on this night, they can dictate how they want to play
out the rest of the group.
Looking at the matchups the rest of
the way, and prognosticating how they will likely go for their
opponents, you can see that for Canada to qualify for the next round, it
will likely mean taking a measly three points over its final three
That means seeing Panama and Honduras away and then a
single remaining home game against Cuba. As measly as the points may
seem, none of those games will be easy if Canada doesn't find ways to
improve its weak offensive game. The Canadians simply aren't imposing
themselves on the backline of their opponents as they are capable of.
for as well as it played through midfield against Panama - it was the
most organized the Canucks have been in recent memory - is still
struggling to pull the trigger when it comes to taking shots on goal.
Yes, chances glanced wide. Posts were hit. And when you look at how few
shots Panama put on net it would be easy to conclude that Canada
dominated in its respective offensive third.
Time and again
however, after a thrilling build up, Canadian strikers would go begging
for the final shot - opting, instead to lay off to more wing play. It's
one part refreshing to see the domestic side not rushing to force a
chance. It's one part frustrating to see their strikers turn down
obvious opportunities. And it's two parts concerning to think that
despite not allowing a single goal over their first three games of this
round, they've managed to only pot two goals in the opposing team's net.Canada playing dangerous games
might be working for them now but that's a dangerous game to play when
you too often turn down viable opportunities. Of course, the irony in
that statement is that their lone goal Friday night was all about
Following a foul against Simeon Jackson, Atiba
Hutchinson - who if you haven't been paying attention is a major reason
for Canada's return to form in the midfield - calmly strolled up to the
dead ball and delivered a fantastic cross to the foot of Dwayne De
Rosario. It was absolutely cut throat.
The goal made DeRo
Canada's all-time leading scorer with 20 goals and harkened back to
memories of a similar dead ball cleverness that led to a tying goal
against Ecuador last year.
That's exactly what Canada needs to
find in itself over the next three games - a willingness to take those
unapologetic chances when they present themselves. Their road to the
next round is certainly wider now, but that's no reason to ease off the
pedal and nurse the corners in those Panamanian hills.
Playing it safe might be the smart move, but Canada playing to win? Now that really would be turning the world on its head.
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