I'm finally emerging to break the bloggerly silence that descended on this space over the last 5 days. The long and short of it is that work has been kicking my ass for the last 3 days (2 jobs, and about 4 waking hours at home total during that span), and I have been neglectful of my faithful readers (which, much to my surprise, have been increasing lately in number).
I can't offer much insight or analysis that you couldn't find in greater quantity and quality over at the Voyageurs forums.
So I'll pull a lazy blogger's trick and give a one sentence summary of news articles in the leadup to tonight's match:
- Canadian players fall in love with Montreal pitch: A possibly contentious stand-off by players who are digging Montreal's new digs, making a pitch for their pitch, and are taking digs at the artifical surface at the digs in Toronto.
- Canada looks to match 1986 team by qualifying for 2010 World Cup: A preview of qualifying generally, with reference to stadium issues, injuries to Richard Hastings and Rob Friend, and sense of optimism surrounding the squad. Julian de Guzman provides the money quote: "Right now, the quality is totally different from what Canada's used to. . . We're more attacking, more confident on the ball and those are the qualities you need to qualify for a World Cup."
The relatively interesting news for the short term is that Hastings and Friend are both out and that nobody has been called in to replace them. That Canada is entering the match with a 16 man squad is regrettable, but it is also likely that any last minute replacements wouldn't see the pitch in any case, so why bring them in? It's not like Canada is playing Mexico or the Yanks; they should be just fine with what they have against Randolph "Sticky" Williams and the Vincy Heat.
There will obviously be changes to the starting lineup from Sunday's edition. One assumes Gerba will replace Friend, just as he did in the early stages in Kingstown. I'd guess that hometown boy Andre Hainault will step in for Hastings at CB, although Jim Brennan would be a (less-attractive) option in that space. I wouldn't be surprised by a goaltending swap, though I see no reason for it.
What this all means is that Ali Gerba has a very good chance to improve upon his already impressive strike rate for Canada. Hopefully he does so; it will be a good chance to ease the pain of being cut by his professional side, FC Ingolstadt. Gerba seems to have little luck professionally, and I hope he lands somewhere decent soon, or he will be forced to slide out of the MNT picture, strike tally notwithstanding.
Predictions are the lazy man's form of prognostication, which means it's right up my alley. You'll notice the poll in the top right corner of this page (if you're not reading the RSS feed) is nearing its best before date. For those of you who aren't clicking through to increase my immense AdSense revenue, the question reads: "How many goals will Canada score in their [sic] 2-legged series against St. Vincent and the Grenadines?"
I don't know if I originally voted for 8-10 or 5-7, but eventually I settled on the latter. Current results echo a similar sentiment. And I foresee a scoreline tonight that makes geniuses of us all:
PREDICTION: Canada 4 (De Rosario, Gerba x 2, Hutchinson), Vincy Heat 0
Another prediction I have is that the supporters section at the one end of Stade Saputo that has seats will be raucous, and somewhere I'd rather be than at work, which is where I will be tonight. Certain Voyageurs have been working hard at making sure the section behind the net is packed with die hard Canadian support, and I'm looking forward to the results.