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  • Greece 1, Canada 0: The negative spin!


    Since fellow Some Canadian Guys writer Squizz has reminded Canada supporters to look on the bright side of life, it’s only fair shake to remind them of the dark side too.

    Stephen Hart has said 2010 was about testing as many players as possible in a Canada shirt so that by 2011 he would have a clearer vision of his first choice team.

    Well, Canada’s first match of 2011 is in the books, and against Greece Hart used a makeshift defence, a makeshift midfield, a semi-makeshift forward line and a previously unknown goalkeeper that the CSA may or may not have found using Google.


    Selection headaches are part and parcel for national teams the world over. The British media mocked Fabio Capello for recently having to scout Championship players. But at least Capello has 14 to 15 go-to guys in his mind he can count on to show up when England plays a friendly.

    I started throwing a spreadsheet together at the end of 2009 - an arbitrary date chosen as the start of Hart’s reign and Canada's march to the 2014 World Cup - tracking minutes played by those in Canada's talent pool. Hart has called 49 players to the nine friendlies since. This is not unheard of. I believe the Americans dusted through over 50 players in their last World Cup qualifying cycle.

    But the alarming thing for Canada is its inability to get a regular core of its best players together for an extended run of matches. Injuries, clubs chosen over country, and having European- and North American-based players on opposite schedules all wreak havoc with selection.

    Canada has used six keepers in nine matches. Mike Klukowski, widely agreed to be the country’s best leftback, hasn’t played for Canada since May. Dwayne de Rosario has played for Canada three times in the past year and a half, and who knows when he’ll be available next? Remember Julian de Guzman? He’s played in four of the nine friendlies. The only players Canada can count as regulars - at least amongst those who will figure in World Cup qualifying - are Josh Simpson and Atiba Hutchinson. The other nine slots seem to just go to whoever Hart can convince to show up on the day and don a red shirt.

    Encouraging near-results achieved with a rotating cast of players are just that, encouraging. But Canada will need at least rudimentary continuity to get anywhere in World Cup qualifying.

    If we want to really splash on the cynicism here are some other fun bits from the spreadsheet:

    • Canada's number two keeper in terms of minutes is currently taking classes (?) at a university in Iowa and quoting Anchorman on his Facebook wall. So he does have good taste in film.
    • The two defenders with the most minutes logged are both unlikely to play major roles in World Cup qualifying. One because he's too old and one because he's too young.
    • Canada's 12 forwards have scored two goals in 1,443 total minutes, and one of those was a mis-hit cross.

    Look. Wearing futility as a badge of honour has worked quite well for supporters of various teams in various sports over the years. And hey, you didn't get into this Canada supporting thing to feel good about yourself right? Although I bet that secretly, that's exactly the reason you got into it. That because someday when success finally comes, it will feel better than almost anything you've felt before.

    Is it possible to put a timeline on such whimsical hope? Erm, probably not. My best guess would be that by the 2018 World Cup qualifying cycle Canada will have a core of decent players drawn from the country's three MLS clubs that it can integrate with a handful of quality European-based players, kind of like what Honduras has now. But I'd say any happiness you find supporting Canada in the meantime will be pure bonus.

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