Canada defeats Guatemala in Gold Cup warmup
Ali Gerba scored two goals as Canada's men's soccer team defeated Guatemala 3-0 in California on Tuesday in a tuneup for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Patrice Bernier added the other goal for Canada, which used the game to prepare ahead of Friday's Gold Cup opener against Jamaica.
Despite playing without veterans Dwayne De Rosario, Jim Brennan and Lars Hirschfeld, interim coach Stephen Hart was pleased with the Canadian lineup, which included nine players making their Gold Cup debuts.
"Things came together quite well. Could have been a little more efficient in front of goal, but we tried out some combinations in terms of people playing together, and it seemed to go very well in both halves," Hart said.
"The young players are pushing. They're not here to make up numbers. I think that's very, very healthy. They want to start, they want to play. And it's been very competitive in training, so I'm really happy with that."
Gerba opened the scoring just four minutes into the match, heading a cross from midfielder Marcel de Jong into the Guatemalan goal.
Canada kept pressing throughout the half, resulting in several close chances. Will Johnson fired a shot just wide of the net on one opportunity and de Jong hit the crossbar on another.
Late in the half, Guatemala's Fredy Thompson took down midfielder Julian de Guzman. The play brought both teams to the centre of the pitch. As it was a friendly match, both Thompson and de Guzman were replaced by substitutions.
Bernier scores his 1st
In the second half, Bernier scored his first international goal for Canada at 55 minutes after gathering a pass from Johnson at the top of the box and firing a low shot past the diving keeper.
Ten minutes later, Simeon Jackson was brought down by Guatemala captain Gustavo Cabrera inside the box. Canada was awarded a penalty shot and Gerba made it 3-0, scoring his 13th international goal and moving to fifth on the squad's all-time scoring list.
"We defended well as a whole team," said Canada defender and man of the match Kevin McKenna. "When we score goals, we score goals as a team. When we keep a clean sheet, we keep a clean sheet as a team. We were just a hard unit to beat."
Hart started rookie goalkeeper Joshua Wagenaar in the first half before Greg Sutton came in to start the second. The duo shared the clean sheet, Wagenaar's first at the international level, and Hart said he's unsure which keeper he'll start against Jamaica.
"At this point right now, I couldn't tell you which one is a starter," Hart said. "They've both trained very, very well. They've pushed each other to the max, and the staff is going to have to sit down and discuss it."
Hart said the game plan for Canada on Friday is to stay focused against a talented Jamaican squad.
"They're a very good team physically. They're quick, strong, they have a way of playing that they keep you under pressure. So we know what to expect.
"I think we have to go into the game composed and not give them the ball carelessly and just take care of our own game."