I’m not sure if you remember my last post for Dave’s blog but I summarized Canada’s latest World Cup Qualifying campaign at the halfway point. Needless to say, the second half of the campaign continued the trend started in the first half and Canada failed to advance. So once again, in 2010, I will be reduced to cheering for a country with whom I have no ties beyond a shared ethnic background that has little impact on my day-to-day life.
But not all is lost in the world of Canadian soccer. The CONCACAF Gold Cup has just started and once again, Canada is poised to make a decent run in the tournament. But wait, you say, aren’t these just the same teams that have defeated Canada over and over again in World Cup Qualifying? How can Canada hope to have an impact when it has struggled continuously on the International scene?
Well, it’s pretty simple. No one cares about the Gold Cup, especially in years when its champion does not qualify for the FIFA Confederations Cup. That’s right. Most countries have not sent their stars to this tournament and although Canada is missing some of it’s key players (Dwayne De Rosario, Lars Hirschfeld and Rob Friend to name a few), Canada has done pretty well in the tournament the last few times and is off to a good start, having beaten Jamaica on Friday, thanks to a nice goal by recent Toronto FC signing Ali Gerba.
Canada have won the tournament twice. Once in 1985 (just before making its only appearance at the World Cup) and again in 2000. They also would’ve reached the final in 2007 if not for a very questionable offside call that nullified a late potential tying goal against the US.
Just like in World Cup Qualifying, Canada have been placed in the toughest group, but, as mentioned above, they started off strong with a 1-0 win over Jamaica. Next is El Salvador (you can catch the game at 9pm Eastern tonight on Sportsnet) and if they can win, they will qualify for the knock-out round. Rounding out the group is a Costa Rican team, which has already lost to El Salvador.
I’ve already mentioned who’s not on the team but there’s still plenty of talent and some talented new faces who have an opportunity to impress. The squad will be led by Julian De Guzman and Atiba Hutchison in the midfield and Ali Gerba up front. Be sure to keep an eye on Simeon Jackson, who recently scored a last minute goal to give his team, Gillingham, promotion to England’s third level, and defender’s Dejan Jankovic and Andre Hainault, who are both having great first years in MLS.