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  • Canada v. USA: So much for boosterism


    It would be a cliché to say that even Canada's small yet fervently loyal fan base knew in their hearts that a win against the USA in the opening match of the Gold Cup was unrealistic. I had the sense that many Canada fans truly felt at least a draw was within the team's grasp, given the recent run of positive results in friendlies and the added motivation of the cross-border rivalry.

    Instead, the Canadians were trounced. The fact that the Americans were fairly rusty themselves kept things respectable. Yes, it's only one game, and yes, Canada will play better as the players adapt to each other, but this result leaves me with the sinking feeling that the team will once again be exiting the Gold Cup in the quarterfinal round, and more worryingly, unless some new blood is somehow located between now and next summer, the team will also once again fall short in the second round of World Cup qualifying once it meets Costa Rica, Honduras or hell, even Guatemala.


    What of Tuesday night? Canada was absolutely owned out on the flanks, especially in its own third of the pitch. For a guy I spent all winter hyping as Canada's new up-and-comer in the Bundesliga, Marcel de Jong did not offer much going forward tonight, or going back. More disturbingly, out on the right Nick Ledgerwood offered even less.

    Surprisingly, I thought the central pairing of Andre Hainault and Kevin McKenna did at least OK in repelling the American attacks that came through the middle. I don't think either of them could be blamed for the first goal by Jozy Altidore. In this game, Lars Hirschfeld needs to make that save.

    In midfield, Atiba Hutchinson seemed, well, misused. Other than a few inspired tackles I took note of Terry Dunfield was largely overrun, and ditto for Will Johnson, who seems to get shoved off the ball a lot.

    Dwayne de Rosario had one cracker of a shot in the first half, doing what he regularly does and creating something out of nothing. But that was one instance in a game of 90 minutes. It seemed for a long time that he and Simeon Jackson were interchanging between dropping deeper into the central attacking midfield role and acting as the lone forward, neither with much success at creating genuine scoring chances. Jackson did manage some decent crosses when he found himself out on the wing.

    So much of the attack streams through Josh Simpson on the left side. I don't suppose that's a bad thing, because he's fast and he can dribble the ball and he often makes it look like something is about to happen for Canada. Perhaps it's just me, but I feel that during the course of the Ecuador match and in the game against the USA, there were several un-talked-about occasions in which Simpson slaloms through three or four defenders into the box with maybe one guy left to beat, only for the play to end in a crumple of flailing arms or legs with the ball skidding harmlessly away from danger. Is this a sign of Simpson trying to do too much on his own? Can't necessarily blame him if it is but I wonder if he's always looking for the best option.

    I'm not smart enough to know how Ali Gerba does what exactly it is that he does, or whether he's a liability when he doesn't have the ball, but he probably should have single-handedly tied the match himself after coming on as a sub, forcing one damn good save from Tim Howard and one fucking brilliant one.

    For what it's worth, for the match against Guadalupe I would use Gerba as a lone forward, perhaps with DeRo, Simpson and Jackson behind him. Given Gerba's body frame he probably won't drop deep for the ball as often as Jackson did on Tuesday, but he apparently doesn't need to. Hope Julian de Guzman returns to partner with Atiba Hutchinson deeper in the midfield like they used to in the good ole' days (ie. the 2007 Gold Cup), and maybe even consider switching Ledgerwood out for Jaime Peters at rightback. Everybody has their bad days, but why not bring in Milan Borjan for one match and then make a decision after who gets the go against Panama.

    What about you, readers? Beyond these hastily scribbled post-match thoughts, what do you make of Canada's showing against the Americans and what needs to change going ahead?

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