Allez Les Rouges

After last week’s contribution, I figured that I’d stick with another patriotic subject. Although this subject was mentioned only in passing by Dave about six weeks ago, I figured that it needed a full post.

The Canadian Men’s Soccer Team has not qualified for a World Cup since 1986, where they were eliminated from group play without having scored a goal. Since then, it’s been frustrating loss after frustrating loss leaving the Canucks on the outside looking in. Whether it’s a lack of skill, extremely poor officiating or incredibly bad luck, Canada has failed to be represented on soccer’s biggest stage in over 20 years. A frustrating time for those of us who were too young to watch that campaign in 1986. Sure there was the Gold Cup win in 2000, but I’m not sure how many people realize that Canada was once champion of CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) or could identify Carlo Corazzin and Craig Forrest as national heroes.

This time around was supposed to be different. Canada was supposed to qualify for 2010 in South Africa. They had a talent level previously unseen in Canadian history with players representing large clubs in England, Spain, and Germany. Unfortunately, it’s never that easy for Canadian soccer. After easily dispatching St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Canada was drawn into an incredibly tough group with Mexico, Honduras and Jamaica, where only the top two teams advance. I know what you’re thinking, “It shouldn’t be that bad. Second place should be attainable. After Mexico, the Canadians should be able to beat everyone else.” Well, unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. The group really features the strongest teams in CONCACAF aside from the United States. But like any good Canadian, optimism reigned. These teams had never seen the talent of Julian De Guzman and Dwayne DeRosario.

We should’ve known something was up when one of the most promising Canadian talents in Jonathan De Guzman acquired Dutch citizenship and offered to ply his trade in Orange rather than red and white. It was all downhill from there. It started off with an embarrassing 1-1 draw with Jamaica before a raucous crowd in Toronto. I say embarrassing not because Canada was outplayed by Jamaica (which they weren’t), or because Jamaican ex-pats in Toronto outcheered the Canadian home support (for the first time in a while in Toronto, this wasn’t true) but because of a miscue on a corner kick where an innocuous kick by Toronto-born Andy Williams wound up in the back of the Canadian net. Whether it was a misplay by goalkeeper Pat Onstad or if he was fouled on the play, it really doesn’t matter as Canada was unable to recover and settled for the 1-1 draw.

Although there was this set back, there was still hope. Canada carried the play against Jamaica and this set them up really well for the next match against Honduras in Montreal. Unfortunately, this would be as good as it got. Canada lost 2-1 to Honduras and then went on to lose 2-1 in Mexico where the score line indicated a much closer game than what actually happened.

So as we stand at the halfway point, we have Mexico with 9 points, Honduras with 6 and Canada and Jamaica with 1 point each.

As you can see, Canada isn’t out of it yet. If they can win out, they still have a chance to finish second. But this means winning in Honduras on Saturday while missing two players to suspension (De Rosario and Adrian Serioux) while their best player, Julian De Guzman, watches from the sidelines with an injury. It’s still possible but even if it does happen, there’s still beating a much superior Mexican team in Edmonton (although they’ll have already clinched a spot and have nothing to play for) and beating a tightly-knit Jamaican squad on their island. While not impossible, it’s definitely daunting and there’s no room for error.

So if you’re finding yourself with nothing to do at 9:30 pm on Saturday night, flick over to Sportsnet and cheer on the boys in red. They’ll need all the support they can get.

Oh yeah, and if my last post didn’t scare you off, get out and vote on Tuesday. Despite what I said, your voice needs to be heard and voting is the easiest way to do that. Unless of course you end up dating a cabinet minister and he leaves sensitive documents lying around the house.

-Jared-

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