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  • All we are saying... is give us a blowout


    ccs-3097-14026401072_thumb.jpgIt's been a very strange two months for followers of the men's national team.

    This sextet of World Cup qualifiers was held up as merely ceremonial; Canada would do away with the minnows in style, all the while sharpening their swords for the more difficult battles that lay ahead next summer. That sense of world-beating (or at least, small-Caribbean-island-beating) confidence lasted all of seven minutes. Ever since Tremain Paul unexpectedly grabbed an equalizer for St. Lucia in that first match, supporters have been jittery. Very jittery.

    So while Tuesday night's matchup with St. Kitts and Nevis is, indeed, the victory lap that most assumed it would be (with advancement to the next round already sewn up), the Canadian squad does have one very important task on its plate...

    Calm us the hell down.


    To their credit, the CSA has realized the soup may have already gone cold, and has put together what essentially amounts to a mea culpa for the team's last two stultifying 0-0 draws, and a promise that things will change on Tuesday (I was half-expecting Dan Savage to show up at the end of the video to reassure the Voyageurs that "it gets better"):

    Now, no one should doubt the sincerity of the two players involved in the clip. David Edgar has been to hell and back in his club career and, despite years of being ignored by the senior team, has done his best to make his mark for Canada now that he's been given a chance. Tosaint Ricketts, meanwhile, is a player whose passion just can't be denied, and a man who clearly delights in suiting up for his country.

    But words won't cut it now, and certainly won't cut it next summer. Words got us into this mess, duping us into believing Canada would pull off six victories by a combined score of 143-0. Words are done; it's time for action.

    That's why for us -- the supporters, from coast to coast -- as well as for themselves, the Canadian squad needs a resounding victory on Tuesday night. No one's worried about a clean sheet. A score line of 6-2 is acceptable if it simply means we fell victim to the counterattack while trying to be too brave going forward. Do recall that in Canada's patchwork backline, only Mike Klukowski could be considered a senior-team "regular" at this moment -- and even he was playing out of position in the last game.

    Hell, another 7-0 victory -- to mirror the one in St. Lucia last month -- would be terrific, though hardly realistic given what we saw unfold on Friday evening down in Basseterre.

    Either way, the team needs to thump in some goals. They need to show that the last two games were anomalies, and that there's a realistic chance that they can translate a favourable draw in next summer's round (Cuba, Panama, Honduras) into a long-awaited appearance in "the Hex" come 2013. They need to reassure long-time, long-suffering supporters that, contrary to what they may currently believe, Mission 2014 is not already a lost cause.

    Call me an apologist if you will. Myopic. Rose-coloured glasses. So on and so forth. Maybe you agree that the focus should already be on 2018, or that it's time for Hart to be fired, or that we've seen the best that this group has to offer and, quite simply, it's nowhere near good enough. As long as you've got reasonable arguments to back up those assertions, you're more than entitled to them, as far as I'm concerned.

    And don't get me wrong, I'm worried too. When Paul slipped the ball past Lars Hirschfeld in September, I got the same sinking feeling in my gut as I did watching Andy Williams get a fortuitous equalizer for Jamaica at BMO Field back in 2008. After that game -- a 1-1 draw in Canada's first match of the third round -- I was convinced the 2010 dream was over. A few nights later, after the debacle in Montreal, my fears were more or less confirmed.

    Given that backstory, perhaps I'm naive to give the team the benefit of the doubt this time. Or masochistic. Or an idiot. Again, I'll leave it up to you folks to decide.

    But I can't be the only one. Surely there are others who believe the team still has something with which to wow us on Tuesday night. Alright, wow isn't the word... really, all we need is to be brought back to where we were two months ago: a mental space wherein we believed Brazil 2014 -- or hell, just making it to the hex -- is a conceivable possibility.

    Stupid as it may be, I'm still in that space. But as for where I -- and my fellow supporters -- will be on Wednesday morning?

    That's for the boys in red to decide.


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