• Daniel Squizzato

      As a kid, Squizz spent a lot of time playing soccer, writing and getting overly excited about frivolous things. Not much has changed: he still plays (badly), he still writes (having been published in outlets such as Maclean's and The Globe & Mail) and still has plenty of irrational passion (just wait until the next time the men's national team plays against Honduras).

    • Grant Surridge

      Grant has no soccer playing career to speak of, and probably hasn't been following Canadian soccer as long as you have, but he does spend vast amounts of time reading about soccer online. A proud, self-loathing ex-Winnipeger, Grant also supports Chelsea FC. He writes about the Canadian mens' national team, as well as Canada's rivals in Central America and the Caribbean.
    • Canada 0 USA 0: Say what you will, you still couldn't beat us

      It's safe to say that unless you're a friend or family member of Matt Stinson or Frank Jonke -- both of whom made their senior national-team debuts for Canada on the night -- Tuesday's scoreless draw between the cross-border rivals will quickly and irretrievably fade from your memory banks.

      Yes, the (insert letter other than "A" here) team of Canada holding the (insert letter other than "A" here) team of the USA didn't realistically tell us much about the short- or long-term prospects for either nation. But the USA -- supposedly an "MLS all-star squad", supposedly a group from which coach Jurgen Klinsmann would draw players for World Cup qualifying -- was, on the night, held goalless by the fringe members of a national program that had lost its last two games by a total of 12-1.

      Say what you will about the squad, Yanks. But however bad you may think this Canadian side was, you still couldn't beat us.

      Now, that may sound pathetic and parochial. But for the fragile psyche of a Canadian soccer fan, results such as this -- ultimately meaningless as they may be -- are a nice little boost now and again. Sure, it'd be even nicer if unexpectedly positive results occurred when things actually mattered, but hey, let's walk before we can run, shall we?

      And yeah, it's definitely pathetic and parochial to revel in the schadenfreude of watching American pundits and fans collectively melt down as the game went along. But what the hell; based on my anecdotal Twitter analysis, the mindset of the American fanbase broke down roughly as follows:

      Pre-game: "We're going to smoke these Canadian nobody losers! They'll be lucky if it's only 5-0!"

      30th minute: "Canada is bunkering! And I'm going to use 'bunker' as a pejorative right now because the team I like is unable to break one down!

      45th minute: "Man, that first half was soooooo boring. This game really is pointless, isn't it?"

      65th minute:
      "Gee, these Canadian nobodies sure are holding their own, for now!" (nervous laughter)

      80th minute: "Oh, whatever, good job, Canada, you're holding our D-team to a scoreless draw! Big deal!"

      Full time: "That game was so dumb and pointless. Canada is still crappy. They only got a result because our guys were crap. Did I mention that game was dumb? We shouldn't even talk about it, which is totally the same attitude I'd be taking if that blowout scoreline I predicted actually came to fruition."

      Now, in fairness (a well-beloved Canadian virtue), the Americans were, by and large, crap. Despite holding a lot of possession, they never seemed especially well-placed to do much of anything with it. A neutral (clearly, your author does not fall into this category, but still) would likely say the game's best chance on goal was Dwayne DeRosario's left-footed strike in the sixth minute, parried away by Sean Johnson.

      But as I said after Saturday's friendly against Denmark, anyone expecting something other than what we got -- a pair of largely experimental and therefore largely disjointed squads, comprised of players being put on audition for future roles -- was kidding themselves. We should, of course, be happy with the draw insofar as it wasn't a loss (particularly a lopsided one), but to place undue importance on the scoreline in games like these ones (or Canada's next match, against Japan in March) would be to miss the point entirely.

      The idea, of course, is to get an idea of what we've got going forward. And the lineup fielded against the States was largely incomplete -- it was a Western Hemisphere-based team, to start, and didn't even include some players who will surely play a role with the CanMNT going forward, such as Will Johnson and Lucas Cavallini.

      Still, a number of players acquitted themselves well. Kyle Bekker once again looked largely comfortable in the midfield (though there's still work to be done), Nik Ledgerwood was surprisingly effective at right back (given that he's had some troubles there with the national team before), Dejan Jakovic and Nana Attakora stood tall in the centre of defence, and Simon Thomas earned the clean sheet in his first start with the senior national team.

      Will this game be remember for its epic importance in terms of world rankings? Nope.

      How about its aesthetic beauty? Definitely not.

      Or for the way that one player definitely stamped their name onto the roster of their senior national team for years to come? Nope, not that either.

      As I said, this game will quickly be lost to the sands of time as the Americans jump back into World Cup qualifying and the Canadians continue the long, painful road of rebuilding.

      But still, for one night, we frustrated and antagonized our arrogant pals to the south. And as pathetic and parochial as it may be, given the circumstances, that makes this evening a success in my books.

      .
      Comments 62 Comments
      1. socceronly's Avatar
        socceronly -
        Whoever coaches Canada in the future, they damn well better be able to fly a helicopter.

        I require this.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        As an American, the only thing that annoyed me about the match was watching us once again struggle to break down a bunker. I don't know if it's just a lack of creative players or an unfamiliarity with the style required to get behind packed defenses (bunker/counterattack is our usual mode of play). Although I'm sure Jurgen is pleased we were able to maintain possession (another struggle of ours), the players still have trouble scoring from that possession. Overall, it was a boring game, but all will be forgiven if we win or tie in Honduras.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Maybe the US should have had the foresight to hire a Norwegian ref next time around.
      1. Registrado's Avatar
        Registrado -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        As an American, the only thing that annoyed me about the match was watching us once again struggle to break down a bunker. I don't know if it's just a lack of creative players or an unfamiliarity with the style required to get behind packed defenses (bunker/counterattack is our usual mode of play). Although I'm sure Jurgen is pleased we were able to maintain possession (another struggle of ours), the players still have trouble scoring from that possession. Overall, it was a boring game, but all will be forgiven if we win or tie in Honduras.
        Well said. I've actually been pleasantly surprised with what Klinsy has instilled in both Euro- and Ameri-based U.S. players in terms of possession and ball control in such a short time. With the more talented players, the A Team if you will, and a more open game, this can turn into results, be they wins or draws, as we've seen in the recent past, even against stronger opponents.

        Tonight, with an unfamiliar, less clever squad, they just couldn't both control the flow of the game and come up with the extra creativity and confidence to crack Canada's final third. The young and learning Reds probably felt they learned enough about playing an open game with Denmark and decided to go man-to-man, with a lot of double-teaming and partnering, as opposed to watching the ball pass you by with consecutive give and go plays made by the opponent.

        Anyway, for U.S. fans, the game sucked. For Canuck fans, the game was solid and fun enough to watch.

        p.s. for Toronto FC fans, any bets that this style of play may be adopted for the majority of games this MLS season? Especially after seeing QPR's result with Man City today (and other top EPL squads recently) too.

        p.p.s. for Yank fans, this reaffirms that many MLS-based national team players, outside of a select few (Donovan, sometimes Beckerman, what happened to Eddie Johnson tonight?), have trouble playing holding, creative, link-up play outside of practice, i.e. getting dangerous with it when it counts.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        p.s. for Toronto FC fans, any bets that this style of play may be adopted for the majority of games this MLS season? Especially after seeing QPR's result with Man City today

        ...Registrado-this is an interesting point (above)..I too was wondering the same thing in reference to TFC, after the QPR match yesterday...LOL...jmo
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        p.s. for Toronto FC fans, any bets that this style of play may be adopted for the majority of games this MLS season? Especially after seeing QPR's result with Man City today

        ...Registrado-this is an interesting point (above)..I too was wondering the same thing in reference to TFC, after the QPR match yesterday...LOL...jmo
        HOOFBALL. Fuckin Mariner.
      1. MrTuktoyaktuk's Avatar
        MrTuktoyaktuk -
        We don't have a clue as to what Ryan Nelsen will try to do tactically. But it's fair to assume that whatever that is, he'll demand a lot from the defensive line and will let them know if he's not getting it.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        Maybe the US should have had the foresight to hire a Norwegian ref next time around.
        LOL. Love this.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        I thought actually the best chance was when the ball went just over Attakora (I think) and to DeRosario, but he wasn't quick enough to react and direct it into the net. He was alone and at about the 6 yard box. His shot on goal early in the game looked good, but realistically it would've taken a lot to score from that angle. I don't think it troubled the keeper.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by MrTuktoyaktuk View Post
        We don't have a clue as to what Ryan Nelsen will try to do tactically. But it's fair to assume that whatever that is, he'll demand a lot from the defensive line and will let them know if he's not getting it.
        It was talked about by a lot of players at media day, that they were going to play a high pressure game and try to win the ball back in the opposition's end.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        It was talked about by a lot of players at media day, that they were going to play a high pressure game and try to win the ball back in the opposition's end.
        Haha, sort like what happened to Astone Morgan at 1:07 here?


        But in all seriousness, that is a flaw afterall that needs to be fixed. Morgan should not have gotten himself into that position and even when he does, the other players can't hang him out to dry there. They've got to get their asses out there and provide him with a pass option.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        They've got to get their asses out there and provide him with a pass option.
        Yes my biggest beef with Canada (and TFC) is how bad our players are without the ball. They are way too static and not moving into space to receive the ball.
      1. nlsanand's Avatar
        nlsanand -
        What formation did we nominally use? I think it's at least worth noting. To limit the US to such weak opportunities has to be something of a victory. Real problem right now is our limited upside as DeRo ages.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by nlsanand View Post
        What formation did we nominally use? I think it's at least worth noting. To limit the US to such weak opportunities has to be something of a victory. Real problem right now is our limited upside as DeRo ages.
        It is troubling that our only true flare player is DeRo and that he'll be 37-38 during the next qualifying campaign. I do think, however, that he might still be useful then.

        DeRo is actually getting better as he gets older (partly because he's a more mature player) and he does take care of himself. So long as the knees hold out I suspect he'll play for at least 3-4 years and will still be an international at the end.

        The hope is that he is a situational sub by then and he's helped bridge the gap until some then 22-year old currently playing at a MLS academy is providing most of the offensive spark...
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        What was the point of sitting back and defending for 90 minutes in a friendly game against a U.S. 'C' team with a bunch of players (other than Beckerman)who have no chance of making the US squad for a competitive game? 5 of the U.S. players were getting their first cap. Seeing the Canadian coaches high fiving after that awful performance tells you how low expectations are. the point of friendlies is to give players a chance to show what they can do. So why select players to just sit back and try not to lose? - in a friendly!!!What does that prove other than that the coach is clueless as to what his job is? The style and quality of play should be more important than the result. No Canadian player (other than 34 year old DeRo) showed confidence on the ball or the ability to take on an opposing player or play an incisive forward pass. USA's Beckerman is a fringe US player and dominated the midfield. Jakovic is the only Canadian player who stood out. No one else in this squad is a potential impact player. Look for technically gifted players and a technically and tactically astute coach or the next 10 years are going to be as awful as the present. How have we gone backward so much? Don't use youth as an excuse. Remember when DeRo, Bent, Hume, Atiba, DeGuzman, Staltieri, Aristodemeo, Martin Nash, McKenna, DeVosetc. debuted for Canada as 20 plus year olds in competitive games? - those were impact players. No one in this current group is anywhere near that class at the same age.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        Yes my biggest beef with Canada (and TFC) is how bad our players are without the ball. They are way too static and not moving into space to receive the ball.
        I'm equally concerned with how bad our players were with the ball. No one showed any confidence or technical ability - other than DeRo. The players never moved into space because the coach was more interested in not losing (in a friendly!!) than in trying to play so the palyers could show what they could do. Not sure what we've learned from this game other than the coach is clueless.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        What was the point of sitting back and defending for 90 minutes in a friendly game against a U.S. 'C' team with a bunch of players (other than Beckerman)who have no chance of making the US squad for a competitive game?

        You want to put money on that?
      1. Registrado's Avatar
        Registrado -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        What was the point of sitting back and defending for 90 minutes in a friendly game against a U.S. 'C' team with a bunch of players (other than Beckerman)who have no chance of making the US squad for a competitive game? 5 of the U.S. players were getting their first cap. Seeing the Canadian coaches high fiving after that awful performance tells you how low expectations are. the point of friendlies is to give players a chance to show what they can do. So why select players to just sit back and try not to lose? - in a friendly!!!What does that prove other than that the coach is clueless as to what his job is? The style and quality of play should be more important than the result. No Canadian player (other than 34 year old DeRo) showed confidence on the ball or the ability to take on an opposing player or play an incisive forward pass. USA's Beckerman is a fringe US player and dominated the midfield. Jakovic is the only Canadian player who stood out. No one else in this squad is a potential impact player. Look for technically gifted players and a technically and tactically astute coach or the next 10 years are going to be as awful as the present. How have we gone backward so much? Don't use youth as an excuse. Remember when DeRo, Bent, Hume, Atiba, DeGuzman, Staltieri, Aristodemeo, Martin Nash, McKenna, DeVosetc. debuted for Canada as 20 plus year olds in competitive games? - those were impact players. No one in this current group is anywhere near that class at the same age.
        It sounds like you've answered your own question; expectations are low and the kids are getting their first caps. I'd say it's equally as important to get them familiar with the program and get a result, to see them respond to the coach's vision. Saying that "the style and quality of play should be more important than the result" does not make full sense; there are two separate issues there. For the CMNT, style was not present last night, a managed type of quality was.

        Speaking of managing, as we know, Miller is interim, the CSA obviously still does need a long term vision that isn't there yet and that's why this strategy made sense to me. I'd rather watch them bunker (the inexperienced defense held and covered each other well) and build through the midfield here and there (both DeRo and Bekker were decent, the latter will need to carry more as he learns, but his passes were mostly quality) than play an open game and have their asses handed to them by an American B or C team. It's a start.

        BTW, it was more than just trying not to lose; yes, it was based on that, with some counterattack play, especially sporadically in the first half and consistently in the last 20 minutes.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        What was the point of sitting back and defending for 90 minutes in a friendly game against a U.S. 'C' team with a bunch of players (other than Beckerman)who have no chance of making the US squad for a competitive game? 5 of the U.S. players were getting their first cap. Seeing the Canadian coaches high fiving after that awful performance tells you how low expectations are. the point of friendlies is to give players a chance to show what they can do. So why select players to just sit back and try not to lose? - in a friendly!!!What does that prove other than that the coach is clueless as to what his job is? The style and quality of play should be more important than the result. No Canadian player (other than 34 year old DeRo) showed confidence on the ball or the ability to take on an opposing player or play an incisive forward pass. USA's Beckerman is a fringe US player and dominated the midfield. Jakovic is the only Canadian player who stood out. No one else in this squad is a potential impact player. Look for technically gifted players and a technically and tactically astute coach or the next 10 years are going to be as awful as the present. How have we gone backward so much? Don't use youth as an excuse. Remember when DeRo, Bent, Hume, Atiba, DeGuzman, Staltieri, Aristodemeo, Martin Nash, McKenna, DeVosetc. debuted for Canada as 20 plus year olds in competitive games? - those were impact players. No one in this current group is anywhere near that class at the same age.
        The defence was given a chance to show what they can do. As for attacking, we don't need DeRo or arguably Ricketts to show what they can do. The guys we need longer term offensively were largely absent from this camp. And Teibert had his chances to show what he could do, but he largely was just losing possession every chance he got to touch the ball (usually before even really controlling the ball). I'd also like to point out that being able to play a game like this on the road would've come in quite handy in Panama or Honduras last year. A similar result would have gotten us into the Hex.

        In conclusion, soccer isn't all bicycle kicks.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        The defence was given a chance to show what they can do. As for attacking, we don't need DeRo or arguably Ricketts to show what they can do. The guys we need longer term offensively were largely absent from this camp. And Teibert had his chances to show what he could do, but he largely was just losing possession every chance he got to touch the ball (usually before even really controlling the ball). I'd also like to point out that being able to play a game like this on the road would've come in quite handy in Panama or Honduras last year. A similar result would have gotten us into the Hex.

        In conclusion, soccer isn't all bicycle kicks.
        Teibert has long ago fallen from being the promising attacking winger of his youth and his likely role going forward is as a competent speedy wing back as he played for Canada in Olympic qualifying. Your last comment makes my point exactly - if this was an important tournament game where a 0-0 draw and not losing something meant something, then hunkering down for 90 minutes makes sense. It makes no sense in a meaningless friendly game! You are right that we don't need DeRo to show what he can do. But Ricketts is a different case - I would argue that he does indeed need to prove that he can be a quality attacking player at the national team level. Scoring goals is Canada's biggest problem and has been for years. We know we can sit back and watch other quality teams knock the ball around while we chase shadows. We've proven that for years. We even won a Gold Cup once with great goalkeeping and resolute defending. WC qualifying where you actually have to score goals at home is a different ball game. The most important thing we need to develop is attacking players for the next round of qualifying or we have no chance to get to the 2018 WC. No player on the squad showed anything near the quality required. Bekker who is getting plaudits and was among the best Canadian players was average at best, making only a handful of forward passes and none more than 10 yards away. I'm not looking for bicycle kicks, but more than 2 corners in 90 minutes would be nice. Or a striker or midfielder who was a genuine attacking threat or actually had the confidence and ability to take someone on.
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