Tag Archives: Canada

Canada loses Bunbury

Teal Bunbury plays for the Kansas City Wizards

Perhaps “lose” is the wrong term, since Canada never really had him in the first place. Like Jonathan de Guzman and Asmir Begović (and, to a lesser extent, Owen Hargreaves) before him, Teal Bunbury – a young, promising striker currently playing for the Kansas City Wizards – chose his other nationality. In this case, that means the United States. Make no mistake, this is a serious problem for the Canadian Soccer Association, and it doesn’t look like it’s being taken seriously.

I realize that de Guzman, for instance, never really wanted to play for Canada. He was going to choose Holland (unlike his brother) from the beginning, assuming Holland wanted him. The same is true of Hargreaves, who was always going to choose England (and, really, choosing England over Canada, esp. when you were good enough to start for England in the World Cup, is a no brainer). I have no issue with them for that. I do have issues with both Begović and Bunbury because they both suited up for Canada at various points. They both waffled (esp. Begović), and, in the end, they both set Canada back.

Begović, for example, would be Canada’s starting keeper today. Bunbury, although only 20, would certainly be in the game day roster, and likely see a lot of action (Ali Gerba, Olivier Occean, and Iain Hume [though I’m a huge Hume fan] aren’t getting any younger or better). Bunbury’s father, Alex, played for Canada and scored 16 goals. I know fathers want their sons to make their own decisions (and I can respect the fact that Bunbury has spent half his life in the US), but from a playing perspective, Teal’s path is not blocked the way it is in the US (Jozy Altidore is the starting striker for the foreseeable future). Of course, the US will likely make it to a few more World Cups before Canada, and playing a World Cup is every player’s dream.

On the other hand, this is good for the US. Bob Bradley needs to attract dual-nationality players to (a) improve the team and (b) increase the team’s depth at all positions. He does have the US’s standing as one of the two best teams in CONCACAF (and therefore all but guaranteed to go to the World Cup) as a positive. On the other hand, he is very stuck in his ways and finds it difficult to work in new blood. Thus, while Bunbury may or may not get to play in a World Cup (depending on injuries, skill development, etc.), he definitely would have played more with Canada and could have been, with Will Johnson and David Edgar, the foundation of the Canadian national team for the next decade. However, assuming he fights his way on to the US national team, he probably made the right choice for him.

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Stephen Hart named full-time coach of Canada’s national team

Finally, the CSA got one right. Stephen Hart had the “interim” label removed from his title and signed a deal to guide Canada through the qualification process for the 2014 World Cup. Granted, it might be a futile process until the team improves sharpish but, hey, having a good coach is a step in the right direction. I, for one, am quite pleased with the hire. I’m now on pins and needles waiting to see how the CSA will screw this up.

On another note, what’s up with Asmir Begovic? Has he made a decision yet?

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On Iain Hume

Iain Hume (Ian Hodgson)

Iain Hume (Ian Hodgson)

There’s an excellent article here about Canadian international Iain Hume and his recovery from a horrific head injury. I’m really not sure what to write because while there are lessons to be learned here – the instigator, Chris Morgan, was hardly punished at all and an example probably needed to be made of him – the point really is to show how Hume has recovered and the outlook he’s taken toward his recovery. Thus, while he has some anger toward Morgan, he has, for the most part, adopted a live and let live attitude. He comes across as a humble guy who realizes his gifts – to play soccer for a living – and is grateful for them. And he’s right when he says the FA need to take care of all players, not just those in the Premiership.

I remember when I was younger and Hume was lauded in the Canadian press as the great hope for Canada’s national team. Obviously that hasn’t quite worked out – yet. It’s worth it to remember that he’s only 25 and he’s proven to be quite the goalscorer in England and Scotland, which puts him miles ahead of other Canadian strikers. The upshot is that there’s still time for him to make a splash on the international scene, if only the CSA would remove its head from its own ass and hire a decent coach already. With Asmir Begovic, David Edgar, Will Johnson, Julian de Guzman, Dwayne De Rosario, and Iain Hume, Canada has the makings of a decent team. But I digress.

Hume seems to be a true professional: hard-working and grateful for his gifts. I guess my point is that his story should be told and he should be held up as an example for Canadian kids to follow.

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Gold Cup 2009: Thanks, Mr. Referee… can we have another?

The most important person on the pitch in Canada’s 1-0 loss to Honduras today was wearing neither red nor white; he was wearing black. That person was, in fact, the referee.

He was terribly inconsistent from the start which resulted in a choppy game. Neither team really got going but that wasn’t helped by Honduras’s persistent fouling; though only about 50% of those fouls were called. The crucial call came near the end of the half, when the referee awarded Honduras an undeserved penalty shot.

The play itself was clearly not a penalty. If the ball touched anything, it touched Kevin McKenna’s head; it most certainly did not touch his hand or arm. It is not an overstatement to say that that call cost Canada the game (though their anemic offense didn’t help).

In the end, it wasn’t the referee that cost Canada the game (though he didn’t help); it was their lack of offense. In 3 group games, they only managed 3 goals. That’s unacceptable. Canada needs to find a way to open up space in their attack. Perhaps using Julian de Guzman as an anchorman/midfield distributor and putting 3 attacking midfielders behind Gerba would be a better option.

Another option is to give more kids a chance. In that, I’m speaking specifically of David Edgar and Asmir Begovic. Edgar has the makings of a quality central defender while Begovic may already be better than Greg Sutton.

Canada plays a defensive game out of necessity. What they need is an offensive game to work off the counter-attack. Only then will they stop losing games they should win.

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Gold Cup 2009: Canada exhales

For about 70 of the 90 minutes, Canada kept its shape and maintained its defensive discipline. For an underdog, discipline is the key to success: an underdog can’t take stupid penalties nor can it be carded. It must stay in front of the opposing attackers and it must capitalize on its opportunities. In its first two games, Canada did exactly that and it won both games, assuring itself of a place in the quarter-finals.

For the other 20 minutes of tonight’s game against Costa Rica, Canada played alternately beautiful and brutal soccer. In those 20 minutes, 4 goals were scored and the end result was a 2-2 draw. Which is fine, because Canada won the group. But it’s not fine because it will, in all likelihood, have to play a rather good Honduas team in the next round.

I realize that Canada played mostly second-stringers tonight in an effort to get them playing time. I also understand that they played pretty well against a reasonably decent team. I was, however, confused when coach Stephen Hart brought Ali Gerba on in the 75th minute. That seemed to signal, to me, that he was going for the win. Why else bring on your first choice striker? That move was countered by Hart himself in the 81st minute when he brought on Adrian Cann, a defender.

Though I don’t know what’s going on in Stephen Hart’s head, I do know that Canada plays somebody on July 28. Even with the long time off, they should go in to the game well-rested and confident.

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Gold Cup 2009: Coffee is for closers!

Ali Gerba scores v. El Salvador

Ali Gerba scores v. El Salvador

Team Canada had it’s Glengarry Glen Ross moment today against El Salvador. In striking first, once again off the foot of Ali Gerba, Canada had to hold its 1-0 lead against a really quite good Salvadoran side. It must be noted that the El Salvador side that showed up tonight was clearly not the side that gave the United States a run for its money only a couple of months ago. That said, Canada played very well and, after taking the lead, shut El Salvador down with very good ball possession and very good defense.

I was really impressed with Gerba. He was a constant threat against the Salvadoran defenders. I was also impressed by Will Johnson, except when he made an exceptionally poor decision to shoot rather than pass to a streaking Julian de Guzman. In reality, the final score should have been 3-0 or 4-0 but for Canada having the inability to finish effectively. Although the Canadian back four were solid, the team will still rue those missed opportunities.

I like that Canada didn’t let up; they kept attacking the Salvadoran goal, resulting in 6 (usually poorly taken) corner kicks. I really like what Stephen Hart is doing with the team: they’re hustling and playing very disciplined soccer. I don’t recall any Canadian player being caught out of position, which is a sign of a well-coached team.

El Salvador, for its part, looked very average. There was no urgency, even after they went down 1-0. It was as if they felt they could score any time. I really hope El Salvador isn’t going down Mexico’s path: trying only against the “good” teams.

For the time being, Canada is the first team through to the quarter-finals with 6 points. And that’s a good thing if you’re a Canadian soccer fan.

Team Canada deserves it coffee tonight.

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Gold Cup 2009: Canada’s roster and first game v. Jamaica

I’m a bit late on this, but that’s not really a problem since most people don’t care about the Gold Cup. So I guess this makes me Don Quixote charging the windmills. Oh, well.

Here’s Canada’s roster:

  • 1. Greg Sutton, goalkeeper (Unattached)
  • 2. Adrian Cann, defence (Esbjerg fB/Denmark)
  • 3. Mike Klukowski, defence/midfielder (Club Brugge KV/Belgium)
  • 4. André Hainault, defence (Houston Dynamo/MLS)
  • 5. Kevin McKenna, defence/midfielder (FC Köln/Germany)
  • 6. Julian de Guzman, midfielder (Deportivo La Coruna/Spain)
  • 7. Paul Stalteri, defence, midfielder (Borussia Mönchengladbach/Germany)
  • 8. Marcel de Jong, midfielder (Roda JC/Netherlands)
  • 9. Ali Gerba, forward (Unattached)
  • 10. Will Johnson, midfielder/forward (Real Salt Lake, MLS)
  • 11. Richard Hastings, defence (Inverness CT/Scotland)
  • 12. Issey Nakjima-Farran, midfielder (FC Nordsjælland/Denmark)
  • 13. Atiba Hutchinson, midfielder (FC København)
  • 14. Dejan Jakovic, defence (DC United/MLS)
  • 15. Josh Simpson, midfielder/forward (FC Kaiserslautern/Germany)
  • 16. Simeon Jackson, forward (Gillingham FC/England)
  • 17. Jaime Peters, defence/midfielder (Ipswich Town FC/England)
  • 18. Joshua Wagenaar, goalkeeper (Yeovil Town FC/England)
  • 19. Kevin Harmse, defence/midfielder (Toronto FC/MLS)
  • 20. Patrice Bernier midfielder (FC Nordsjaelland/Denmark)
  • 21. Chris Pozniak, midfielder (Dundee FC/Scotland)
  • 22. Kenny Stamatopoulos, goalkeeper (FC Lyn Oslo/Norway)
  • 23. Charles Gbeke, forward (Vancouver Whitecaps FC/USL)

I’m very pleased that Will Johnson is on the team. I’m completely and utterly shocked that David Edgar and Asmir Begovic were left off the roster. That pisses me off more than words can express at the moment.

Also, even though Ali Gerba is listed as unattached, he’s actually signed with Toronto FC, but can’t join until 1 July (though, in practice, that means after the Gold Cup).

That said, the match against Jamaica has started well. I’ll give an update when the match is over.

UPDATE – 9:07 PM CST

Ali Gerba celebrates his goal (Lori Shepler/AP)

Ali Gerba celebrates his goal (Lori Shepler/AP)

Canada just defeated Jamaica 1-0 on a goal by Ali Gerba. Canada played rather well, if a bit defensively. Ricardo Gardner was virtually non-existant. The Canadian offense came off of counter-attacks which is how a weaker side needs to work. The move itself, a pass to Gerba’s feet by Mike Klukowski, was good. It seemed to take the Jamaicans by surprise, much like the entire Canadian counter-attack.

Canada faces two tough games versus El Salvador and Costa Rica next. Hopefully, they’ll play as good as they did against Jamaica.

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