The results may not all have been what we're looking for, but Dale Mitchell knows how to please with his player selections. For the first time, at least since the beginning of the Osieck era, there aren't any important players constantly being overlooked, and Canada's best are answering the call.
And not only is he calling the right players, Mitchell and the CSA are doing the right thing by bringing together a bigger group of 22 from which to choose for the next 2 qualifiers: 6 September in Montreal, and 10 September in Mexico. With nearly a full week to train together, the squad should gain some familiarity, but the extra bodies could come in handy in the event that one of the five Canadians on a yellow (Serioux, De Rosario, Hutchinson, Radzinski, and de Guzman) is punished on Saturday against Honduras.
The CSA published the squad yesterday; here's the list with a few corrections (Belgrade is in Serbia, not Croatia; Radzinski is now with Lierse of the Belgian 2nd division rather than Skoda Xanthi)
|Lars Hirschfeld||GK||CFR Cluj||Romania|
|Pat Onstad||GK||Houston Dynamo||MLS|
|Greg Sutton||GK||Toronto FC||MLS|
|Patrice Bernier||M||FC Nordsjælland||Denmark|
|Jim Brennan||D||Toronto FC||MLS|
|Julian de Guzman||M||Deportivo La Coruna||Spain|
|Dwayne De Rosario||M/F||Houston Dynamo||MLS|
|Rob Friend||F||Borussia Mönchengladbach||Germany|
|Ali Gerba||F||Milton Keynes Dons||England|
|Richard Hastings||D||Inverness CT||Scotland|
|Atiba Hutchinson||M||FC København||Denmark|
|Daniel Imhof||D/M||VfL Bochum||Germany|
|Dejan Jakovic||D||Red Star Belgrade||Serbia|
|Ante Jazic||D||LA Galaxy||MLS|
|Mike Klukowski||D||Club Brugge||Belgium|
|Kevin McKenna||D||1. FC Köln||Germany|
|Issey Nakajima-Farran||M||FC Nordsjælland||Denmark|
|Olivier Occean||F||Lillestrøm SK||Norway|
|Adrian Serioux||D/M||FC Dallas||MLS|
The same 18 players that were called for the Jamaica match are back. The four additions are Lars Hirschfeld, Olivier Occean, Ante Jazic, and Dejan Jakovic. Bringing in the extra keeper (Hirsch) and forward (Occean) are pretty logical moves considering the risk for injury in the first match. Ante Jazic provides more depth to the back line, although Marcel de Jong might also have been called. Dejan Jakovic, who was solid during the olympic qualifying tournament, is in his second senior camp. He played a handful of minutes with a 'B' team against Martinique earlier this year.
Some more numbers:
|Julian de Guzman||33||4|
|Dwayne De Rosario||50||15|
The extra players probably shouldn't have much impact on the starting lineup, at least for the Honduras match when all the players are expected to be available. If cards or injuries come into play, it will be interesting to see what happens.
Lars Hirschfeld may only have been invited as injury cover for Sutton or Onstad, but given Onstad's gaffe against Jamaica, and Sutton's inconsistent play for the national teams, I'd love for there to be a 3-way battle for the starting 'keeper position during the next week in Montreal.
Kluka is there, of course. We have reason to live.
My excitement level has been mounting for the last week or two, in anticipation of the Honduras match. So much so that I had forgotten that the clash with Mexico followed so closely after.
Maybe I'm stealing the thunder a bit from our special correspondent, but let's learn a bit more about those two countries: