Friday, October 10, 2008

It sneaks up on you

Maybe it's that Canada's dismal results in the first 3 matches of qualifying have me down, or perhaps it's just that other things in my life seem more important right now (I put sweet new bar tape on my bike last night, only 7 bucks!) Whatever the case may be, the fact that Canada will be playing two World Cup qualifiers over the next 5 days hasn't really hit me.

30 hours from now, it could all be mathematically over, instead of the depressing state of limbo that things are now in. On the other hand, in the unlikely event of a Canada win, the series of events that would lead to qualification for the hex would become significantly less improbable.

There are things to be encouraged about in Canadian soccer, if not in the current qualifying campaign. The Montreal Impact are all but through to the quarterfinals of CONCACAF Champions League play. They could only be derailed by a series of outcomes even more improbable than what is necessary for Canada to advance from this group.

And as good as it was when Canada beat Colombia in the Gold Cup final in 2000, and even though things seem to have gone downhill since then, I can tell you that the quality of Canada's soccer team has vastly improved over the last 8 years (yes, it was that long ago). I watched the match (with some liberal fast-forwarding) this afternoon looking for inspiration but found none in the style and quality of play. A telling sequence in the second half included Martin Nash springing Jeff Clarke into the area, who was fouled by the keeper, and the resulting penalty was put away by Carlo Corazzin. All A-League/USL players who had a brief cup of coffee in the British lower divisions. This was a team that included a CSL (then CPSL) player on the bench, and where missing Davide Xausa and Paul Peschisolido as starters was considered a big hurdle to overcome. Pedigree aside, the play on the pitch was ugly, disjointed, and not near the standard that we've seen from our boys lately, even in their last 3 losses.

What am I trying to say? I don't know. Maybe I'm preemptively looking for upside to console myself tomorrow night. Maybe there still is reason to believe.

It's all a little melancholy, not the kind of sentiment I'd like to have leading up to a match. So in order to change the mood, I'll abide by the title, if not the content, of this blog post.

Prognostications are unwise, but I don't care. Since a draw would probably be the most unsatisfying result, that's probably what it will be.


And I would be remiss if I didn't provide detailed viewing instructions for tomorrow's match, because the way Sportsnet buries their Canada coverage, it can be hard to find.

If you're in eastern Canada, you'll need the digital package. The match is live on Sportsnet West and Pacific at 9:30 pm et / 8:30 ct / 6:30 pt. Be there or be square.


M@ said...

I share your pessimism, but let's not dismiss the Class of 2000 too quickly. Both Corrazin and Pechisolido were important and well-regarded strikers in their English teams, and a lot of the guys who made the Gold Cup run happen -- Clarke, Nash, and yes, even Xausa -- were in the early part of their careers, and still had a lot of potential. And JDV had already become a captain in his SPL team, and would take that leadership ability much further in the coming years.

There's no question that out current squad is head and shoulders above the 2000 squad, in skill and savvy and even raw athleticism. You wouldn't think of comparing, say, Xausa and de Guzman -- one is a journeyman, the other is a pure and beautiful natural.

However, the 2000 team achieved great things in the GC, and failed miserably in the WCQ. By comparison, our current team doesn't give us a hell of a lot to cheer for.

(I'm going to say 2-1 Canada over Honduras though. But I'm a sucker.)

J said...

Thanks for weighing in. In a lot of ways you're right, and I felt bad dismissing the accomplishments of one of only two Canadian teams really to accomplish anything (the other being the team that made it to WC1986).

Your point about JDV is probably the most important one. With the way players like Brennan and De Rosario have been gutlessly pointing fingers at anyone but themselves, it's obvious a real leader is what this team is missing. That leader won't always be your coach, and you can be sure De Vos wouldn't abide that kind of behaviour.