His nightmares are becoming less frequent.
Every now and then, some insensitive journalist like me reminds him of the living hell which was Honduras.
Suffice to say Andre Hainault would rather not reminisce about the utter humiliation, that embarrassing 'nutmeg' or any of the other seven goals he and his fellow Canadians conceded in San Pedro Sula -- a result which ended their collective dream of World Cup qualification in cataclysmic fashion.
The meltdown allowed the critics to seize the Canadian carcass. Inevitably, the head coach paid with his job. But Hainault, while not defending the performance, believes there were positives.
"We did make some progress" he insisted, reflecting on the campaign as a whole, which saw Canada come within one game of reaching the final qualifying round for the first time in 15 years.
Less than a month removed from his biggest letdown in the professional game, Hainault has moved on. The flame-haired defender from the Montreal suburbs is enjoying the ride. He's in the thick of Major League Soccer's playoff action and likely heading to a second straight MLS Cup final.
If it is, indeed, a soccer truism that you're only as good as your last result, Hainault's recovery has been rapid. He has been busy at the back and, just for good measure, scored a vital goal to set Houston Dynamo on their way against D.C. United.
Not that we should be surprised at his goal scoring prowess. Hainault's been this way before. The 26-year-old netted twice in last year's playoffs. But it was all to no avail as Hainault and Houston ultimately finished runners-up to the L.A. Galaxy in an uninspiring finale.
There's a good chance the 2012 showpiece will feature the same opponents. Houston take a 3-1 advantage to RFK Stadium on Sunday, the same day the Galaxy will start with a three-goal cushion in Seattle. Since this is knockout soccer, anything is possible. But having made best use of home advantage, both the defending champions and the Dynamo will travel in confident mood.
Hainault is relishing the challenge. In truth, he's somewhat fortunate to be involved. Another referee would have shown him a straight red card for his tussle with United's Raphael Augusto in the opening leg. The Canadian international was given the benefit of considerable doubt, thus sparing him from the automatic suspension which would have followed.
Date with DeRo?
Hainault has grabbed his opportunity and is keen to finish the job. A knee injury to fellow defender Jermaine Taylor reinforced Houston's need for strength in depth and Hainault stepped in to resume his central defensive partnership with Bobby Boswell. He has not disappointed, showing bravery and commitment at one end and providing a nuisance factor at the other, particularly on set pieces.
Among Hainault's duties in the decider may be guarding a familiar foe. Against all expectations and to the delight of United fans, Dwayne De Rosario of Scarborough, Ont., is ready to ride to the rescue. The reigning MLS MVP hasn't kicked a ball in anger since spraining knee ligaments during Canada's defeat in Panama more than two months ago and 'DeRo' is not expected to start. But his very presence will be a huge fillip for the home team.
The knowledge that De Rosario could come off the bench for perhaps the final 30 minutes has the potential to change the equation. Few players in MLS history can match the Canadian's record when it comes to clutch playoff performances.
Hainault may have his work cut out. He is well aware a two-goal cushion is a "dangerous lead." It is not big enough to set out on the road with a defensive mindset. But the temptation to push forward in search of the 'killer' goal could leave gaps at the back which D.C. will seek to exploit.
He has even joked with his Houston teammates on how to cope under severe defensive pressure.
"I play for Canada, I'm used to this. Just follow my lead, I know what to do!" said Hainault, with a chuckle in his voice.
Many a true word spoken in jest. No joking on the weekend. Hainault means business. He doesn't need any more bad dreams this year.
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