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CP: Canada's Back Against the Wall


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Canada's back against the wall at Gold Cup, but coach won't change style

SEATTLE (CP) - Canada is facing elimination at the Gold Cup, but all coach Frank Yallop can do is preach patience and perseverance. Losses in their first two games of the tournament - including a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the U.S. Saturday - means Canada must beat Cuba for any chance to advance to the second round of the tournament.

A win would give Canada three points and third place in Group B of the 12-team tournament. Even then, the Canadians must hope they have one of the two best third-place records to move on.

"We don't have it in our hands," said goalkeeper Greg Sutton before boarding a plane Sunday to Boston, where Canada plays Cuba on Tuesday night.

"We have to go out and win and just hope things work out and we get a break. I think we're bound to get some breaks. That's the way football goes."

Yallop's young team, ranked 85th in the world, hasn't scored a goal in the tournament. It's been over a year since the team has scored more than one goal in a game.

Yallop chose his Gold Cup squad with the hope of laying the foundation to build a team that can qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

So far the team has shown impressive grit, a strong work ethic and good shape on defensive.

Offensively, they move the ball well with crisp passing.

What the side lacks is a reliable scorer - someone with a touch around the net and the offensive flair to score the big goal when its needed.

"That final piece of the puzzle is missing now," Yallop admitted.

Knowing what he needs is one thing. Finding that player is another.

"There's not some guy playing for Chelsea that's a Canadian and is a forward," said Yallop. "These guys are the best we've got."

What Yallop doesn't want is for his players to become frustrated. He's convinced Canada is playing a style that will eventually produce results.

"What I want these guys to do is not give up on what we are doing," he said. "We could change it (the style) and start smashing it long and hoping we get a break. That's not what we're about.

"I want to build a program where we learn how to play soccer and we know how to compete in this region."

Striker Dwayne de Rosario is convinced that despite some stumbles, the Canadians are walking the right path. He thinks the answer is more time playing together.

"We're still trying to get accustomed to each other and knowing each other's style of playing and reading each other," said de Rosario, who plays for the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer.

"The only way we can do that is playing the games. This tournament was kind of early for us as a rebuilding stage. We've created chances. That final pass wasn't there but I feel that's because we haven't played enough games together."

Sutton, who has played five games with the national team, said the moulding into shape has begun.

"I think the composure is a lot better over the last few games," said the keeper, who helped the Montreal Impact win the United Soccer League championship last season.

"It's tough when you have a bunch of young guys with very little international experience. We're starting to build on what we came here to do, to try to jell as a unit and look forward to the future.

"We can't be too disappointed."

Fate also hasn't been kind to the Canadians this tournament.

They opened with a 1-0 loss to Costa Rica in a game decided with a penalty kick from a questionable call by the referee. In that game, de Rosario and midfielder Jim Brennan both missed golden scoring chances.

Against the U.S., Canada was holding its own against the 10th-ranked team in the world, until an own goal in the 48th minute put Yallop's squad on their heels. The Americans didn't put the match away until Landon Donovan scored off a header in injury time.

Young defenceman Gabriel Gervais said it's up to Canada to start creating its own luck.

"We can't say we're cursed," said Gervais. "We have to get this monkey off our back and keep going and qualify for the second round with a good result against Cuba."

The U.S. and Costa Rica are tied on top of Group B with 2-0-0 records and six points in the standings, where a win is worth three points and tie one. Canada and Cuba, ranked 70th in the world, are both 0-2-0 for no points.

The U.S. and Costa Rica also play Tuesday.

The Gold Cup determines the championship of CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Canada will be without Adrian Serioux for the Cuba game. Serioux was sent off from Saturday's game after taking two yellow cards and must sit out the next match.

The Gold Cup championship game will be July 24 at Giants Stadium.

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