Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Enter the vortex

Coverage of the Brazil friendly wasn't great. Today's friendly with Panama will take place in a media-free vortex. And I'll be at work anyway, so there will be no live blog.

Best bets to catch a score or some updates are the Voyageurs forums, and the CSA fixture page and match tracker.

The Footie Fool has some good links regarding the De Guzman injury, tonight's match and the upcoming qualification. By the way, the match begins at 5 pm ET.

Quickie update: Starting lineup for Canada: Sutton, Stalteri, Serioux, Hastings, Klukowski, Nakajima-Farran, Bernier, Hutchinson, de Jong, Radzinski, Friend


With nothing else to write about, here are my ratings for the Brazil match. I watched the Sportsnet broadcast (torrent) which added some clarity, literal and otherwise, to my initial thoughts.

Ratings (out of 10)

Pat Onstad - 6: Pat made a few good saves, but after getting a second look, I wasn't too impressed with his efforts on the first two goals. Hastings was part of the problem on the Diego strike, but Pat didn't cover a lot of ground on the attempted save. And he really should have been able to knock the Fabiano header over the bar.

Paul Stalteri - 6: Robinho abused Stalteri on the first goal, and Paul was caught out a few other times. He did get forward well on a few occasions, but hit a poor cross more than once. For a player in the EPL, he needs to show more for Canada.

Adrian Serioux - 8: Serioux played above my expectations, for sure. He was composed, usually in good position, and played the ball out of the back instead of thumping it forward. Perhaps took too many risks with the ball, but he was successful so he gets a good rating.

Richard Hastings - 6.5: Was partly to blame on at least one of the goals, but also made some vital tackles. He is solid at this position for a natural LB, and showed it last year at the GC as well. I'm comfortable with him playing at CB.

Mike Klukowski - 8.5: Klukowski was great. Defended well, got forward well, and has a great left foot. The revelation of the match.

Tomasz Radzinski - 6.5: Radz got back to defend well, but didn't get involved in the offense enough for my liking. I don't know if he'll be good for more than 45 minutes once the WCQ matches start.

Julian de Guzman - 8*: The asterisk is because he'd get a 9 were it not for the back pass. Great goal, lots of tackling and running, and obviously the leader of this team. Hopefully his injury isn't serious.

Atiba Hutchinson - 7: Hutchinson had a quiet first half, but it wasn't a bad quiet. He was in good positions defensively, and really worked his way into the offense later on.

Dwayne De Rosario - 8.5: In the live blog I was critical of Dwayne for giving up possession, but he snapped out of that after 20 minutes and was involved in some great buildup including the play leading to the de Guzman strike at about 31 minutes.

Issey Nakajima-Farran - 7: Missing the breakaway was criminal, but he got himself into good positions often. It was interesting that he was the only midfielder not subbed off.

Rob Friend - 8.5: I knew he was big. I knew he was good in the air. But Rob showed a lot more. When Canada did resort to a long-ish ball forward, Friend invariably laid it off with a well-placed header or chested ball. He also has more speed than I had given him credit for.

No ratings for the subs, though Nsaliwa and De Jong showed more than the rest.

Please disagree and tell me.


Update: The cone of silence that had descended while the match took place has been lifted. The final score was 2-2, with a lot of players seeing the pitch. Ante Jazic and Jaime Peters scored their first goals for Canada.

Tomasz Radzinski picked up a minor foot injury early and was replaced by Peters. 3 of the back 4 were replaced at half (Klukowski stayed on. It's interesting to see Nsaliwa being given a long look, which leaves me hopeful that his passport issues will soon be sorted out.

The starting lineup was as above, but here it is with substitutions.

CANADA: Sutton, Stalteri (Nsaliwa 45), Serioux (Cann 45), Hastings (Hainault 45), Klukowski, Nakajima-Farran, Bernier (Brennan 45), Hutchinson, de Jong (Jazic 45), Radzinski (Peters 9), Friend (Gerba 45)

The match report very helpfully explains how the substitutions affected the formation:
Ali Gerba came on up front for Rob Friend while Jim Brennan came on for Patrice Bernier and was slotted into the left back position. Ante Jazic came on for Marcel De Jong and played wide left while Adrian Cann and Andre Hainault replaced Adrian Serioux and Richard Hastings at centre back. Mike Klukowski moved into centre midfield alongside Atiba Hutchinson with Issey Nakajima-Farran playing wide right. Peters stayed on underneath Gerba.
Brennan could easily have slid into midfield instead of Klukowski, but Mitchell probably wants to give him a look at his preferred position. Still, I don't think Brennan sees the pitch much at left back this qualifying cycle; if he plays much it will be because he is versatile.

Nakajima-Farran and Klukowski are the only players to play every minute of both matches (Panama and Brazil).

It's too bad De Rosario and Onstad left the squad for their MLS side, because Houston's match with DC United was rained out. (Rain outs in soccer? WTF?!)

Whoever is responsible for the CSA writeup seems to have a strained relationship with the facts:
Canada's Jaime Peters opened the scoring in the 20th minute as he headed home from close range following a corner kick from Patrice Bernier. Teenager Peters had replaced Tomasz Radzinski in the ninth minute after the veteran suffered a foot injury.
Peters was a teenager when Yallop first called him, but he's born 4 May 1987 which makes him 21. He hasn't been a teener for a while.
Jaime Peters, not a teenager, celebrates his first ever goal for Canada

Fit to be tied . . . Perhaps it's appropriate that Canada and Panama played to a draw, as the countries are tied at 60th in the latest edition of the FIFA rankings. Take a look at the CONCACAF table, which will undoubtedly be the subject of a future post.


And Footie Fool nails it in the comments:
Interesting to see Radz role on the team change. I thought he did a good job pulling back and leaving the attacking to DeRo and deGuzman. And Issy and Friend were also attaching, so to see Radz pulling back is not a bad thing.

I'm beginning to think Hutch is one of those invisible players who, if he were gone, would drastically change the midfield. He's not as flashy as DeRo and deGuzman, but his control and ability to move the ball around were in evidence.

1 comment:

Footie Fool said...

Klukowski was also a revelation for me, not having seen him before this game. His ball into Rob Friend was well placed...perfectly positioned to pull the keeper off the line.

Overall, I think our fefence was better than I expected it to be. I'm not sure how much Onstad had in settling the back line, but certainly Serioux was great in the center.

Interesting to see Radz role on the team change. I thought he did a good job pulling back and leaving the attacking to DeRo and deGuzman. And Issy and Friend were also attaching, so to see Radz pulling back is not a bad thing.

I'm beginning to think Hutch is one of those invisible players who, if he were gone, would drastically change the midfield. He's not as flashy as DeRo and deGuzman, but his control and ability to move the ball around were in evidence.