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  • Canada fans can expect a solid year in 2015, or an absolute disaster


    Grant
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    The 2016 100th anniversary Copa America and whether Canada can qualify for it have raised the stakes for our nation’s soccer fandom. (The men's side is what we're focused on here.) Not to mention the oft-rumoured changes to Concacaf WC qualifying that could offer more difficult matches at an earlier stage.

    Sure, losing by seven goals in Honduras was shattering. But how about gassing July’s Gold Cup and thus missing the hemisphere's biggest soccer party ever. And then come September, suffering early elimination from Russia 2018 at the hands of, say, Guatemala.

    Narrowly missing out on the Hex for the first time since 1997 while getting slaughtered by a hated rival is certainly bad, but elimination from WC qualifying before the good Concacaf teams have even started would be a more insidious failure. Imagine suffering the months-long hype around a suddenly Canada-free 2016 Copa America. It would be existential-crisis stuff all over again for Canada fans.

    At that point it might be time to order genetic testing kits to shake out some long-lost Latin American ancestry. At least it would be a team to cheer for.

    It’s hard to know what long-term damage such rapid-succession setbacks would provoke. Some of you may be screaming right now, “After all we’ve come through, WHY WOULD WE STOP NOW?” Fair enough. But consider this. It’s not the incorrigible addicts we have to worry about. Elimination from World Cup qualifying in 2015 would mean three more years without meaningful games for the senior men’s team. Goodwill engendered from a respectable second half in 2014? Wasted. An entire summer of hot North and South American soccer action for Canada-haters to revel in on social media.

    We could lose a mini-generation of Canada soccer fans currently feeling okay about themselves, maybe on account of U20 success or perhaps the fact a former Real Madrid manager has wrangled the national side into playing solid-yet-uninspiring soccer.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’ve outlined the absolute worst-case scenario. It’s also completely reasonable to expect Canada to turn in a solid Gold Cup and then comfortably dispatch its opening opponent in qualifying, favourable draw or not. But if there’s anything my relatively short stint as a supporter of Canada’s men’s team has taught me, it’s that a whole bunch of bad shit always seems to happen. I've learned to mentally prepare for the worst.

    And you know what? Maybe three long years of nothing to get excited about (over and above the numerous long years of nothing to get excited about already in the books) would simply solidify support among Canada’s base. Long simmering resentments given more time to stew. Chips on shoulders given more time to fester. It would just make the long-awaited Holy Grail of World Cup qualification that much sweeter and more savoury, wouldn’t it? We’ll wait for genuine success until we die, or at until Canada ceases to exist as a Fifa recognized nation.

    Now go buy yourself a new Canada kit. We’ve got some soccer to watch this year.

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