Thursday, June 12, 2008

Canada roster for SVG part 1

The final roster for the first leg of the St. Vincent and Grenadines series was released yesterday, and only one player, third-string keeper Josh Wagenaar, was dropped from the 20 named earlier in the week. That means there are 19 Canadian players now on the island and only 18 can dress, but given our luck, it would be nice to have some injury cover.

The CBC has an article with the headline "Canada names roster for World Cup qualifier", which is nice, but there are several problems:
  • An article about a 19-man roster only lists 7 players (Brennan, Sutton, De Rosario, Stalteri, Friend, de Guzman and de Jong)
  • Brennan and Sutton are included among the "big names". These are players who aren't in my first 11, and probably not my first 18 if everybody is healthy
  • The article fails to mention the surprise inclusion of Ugo Ihemelu
  • That's it, I guess. At least some of the readers, in the comments section, have added some balance to the thing.
A better look at the upcoming match is provided by the excellent MLS/American soccer blog Climbing the Ladder. It can be difficult to find information about CONCACAF matchups at the best of times, but in these early stages where island minnows abound, his analysis is damn-near remarkable. For example, in part 1 of the two part series, he explains that Antigua and Barbuda will be missing their starting keeper because he injured his eye with a weed-whacker doing his full-time gardening gig.

He previews Canada-SVG in part 2:
Canada - Saint Vincent & the Grenadines

6/15-St. Vincent / Grenadines vs. Canada - Kingstown - 3 p.m.
6/20-Canada vs. St. Vincent / Grenadines - Montreal - 8:30 p.m.

I was pretty surprised to see Canada's roster for the series, and not because for once all their top European stars are going to be in the same place at the same time. No, the surprise is because Colorado Rapids defender Ugo Ihemelu is there. Yes, the same Ihemelu who was capped by the United States against Norway in January 2006. Friendlies apparently don't cap tie players, or else Jeff Cunningham wouldn't have been able to play for the US (he made one appearance in a friendly for Jamaica before becoming a citizen). Interesting quotes from coach Dale Mitchell here.

That article is also notable for mentioning something that I've noticed recently. This time, Canada does have expectations. After reaching the semifinals in last year's Gold Cup, hosting the U-20 World Cup, and the off the field mania over Toronto FC, Canadian soccer is coming alive and results are now expected. Especially after the firepower shown in the recent loss to Brazil, where they showed no fear and should've earned a draw. The tough thing is, they've received a brutal semifinal draw for the second straight cycle and will likely compete with Honduras and Jamaica for second place behind Mexico. But that's in the future; St. Vincent is on the menu now.

"Vincy Heat" no longer features Ezra Hendrickson; he retired from international soccer earlier this year. Wouldn't have mattered, since he's injured anyway. They don't really have any notable players, though many of them play for professional teams all over the world. Definitely not pushovers, but they're not going to get destroyed either. They just lack the game changing players that the top Caribbean teams feature. The warmups have resulted in two away losses: 5-1 in Jamaica and 1-0 in Cuba. They actually haven't won in any of their last 8 matches going back to January of 2007. Canada shouldn't break too much of a sweat. Sorry Wesley John, you're not "that good."
I think he pretty much nails it. Bonus marks for mentioning Ihemelu, the ridiculous semi-final group, and SVG's "Vincy Heat" moniker (I can't wait to unleash a "Canada beats Vincy Heat" title on Sunday evening). From the sounds of it, he may even have watched the Canada - Brazil friendly, which was darn near impossible to do for most Canadian fans.

No comments: