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Gold Cup soccer schedule is kind to American and M


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WALTHAM, Mass. (CP) — When you're ranked 78th in the world, it's hard garnering respect.

That's the case at the Gold Cup once again for Canada.

The tournament schedule is stacked in favour of the co-host Mexicans and Americans. The Mexicans, for example, could go the entire tournament without having to pack a bag and leave Mexico City.

The Americans are guaranteed to stay at home, either Foxboro, Mass., or Miami, until the final.

Canada, meanwhile, could go from Foxboro to Miami to Mexico City or even Foxboro to Mexico City to Miami if they were to play in the third-place game.

Canadian captain Jason deVos wondered if that kind of schedule would happen anywhere else in the world.

``If UEFA were to say to Germany, `You can play all your games at home' and to England `you can play all your games at home and everybody else has to travel.' Something like that just would never happen,'' said deVos. ``But for some reason that seems to be the case in CONCACAF.

``It's unfortunate, it's frustrating. But you have to pick your fights and fight the ones you can win. If we were to make a fuss about it, it would just be falling on deaf ears. We just get on with it. They're not doing us any favours but they never have.''

Added coach Holger Osieck:

``It's no secret that we are not in the driver's seat in CONCACAF considerations. But all that whining wouldn't help us at all. We're going to be there and the games will be decided on the pitch.''

Canada's practice pitch Friday looked like it had been hit by a bomb at midfield. With rain forcing cancellation of a planned practice at Gillette Stadium, the Canadians worked out on a pitch attached to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society grounds.

Tournament organizers are guided by ticket sales in their approach to the tournament, so keeping the U.S. and Mexico at home makes fiscal sense.

The Boston Globe noted that in a story this week, saying a ``worse-case scenario'' would have Canada and Jamaica advancing to the final.

Still, even FIFA's assessment of the Canadians is somewhat lukewarm. Here is FIFA's capsule on Canada on its official Web site:

``The side from the Great White North, led by ultra-experienced boss Holger Osieck, feature a group of foreign and domestic journeymen that will prove no pushover. A recent 4-1 loss to Germany will have the boys down in the mouth as their title-winning heroics of 2000 — they beat Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago and Colombia along the way — become more of a fading memory than a spur.''


Ticos Update: Costa Rica will be missing two top players for Saturday's game: Paulo Wanchope (Manchester City, England) and Ronald Gomez (OFI Crete, Greece). Both are recovering from injury.

Names to watch on the Ticos are Mauricio Wright (AEK Athens, Greece), Gilberto Martinez (Brescia, Italy), Mauricio Solis (OFI Crete), Walter Centeno (formerly with AEK Athens and now Costa Rican side Saprissa) and Winston Parks (Lokomotiv Russia)


Tripleheader: Canada's game at Gillette Stadium on Saturday is the first of a three-game card. The New England Revolution play the New York-New Jersey MetroStars before the U.S. tackles El Salvador.


Missed practice: The Gold Cup is cutting into pre-season training for the European-based Canadian players. Captain Jason deVos attended one day of training with Wigan Athletic in England before jumping on a plane to North America.

``They weren't too pleased about me leaving,'' he said. ``But I said to them I'll be training three times a day with the national team and playing some very difficult international matches as a sort of warm-up to my season with Wigan.

``I can't think of any better preparation for me than to be here with Canada. In the end they were OK with it and they wished me well and hoped I returned injury-free.''

"A pretty move, for the love of God."

Eduardo Galeano

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