Monday, October 06, 2008

Who will replace thee, JDG

There's news, and it's bad, regarding one of Mitchell's selections for Honduras and Mexico. From the Footie Fool:
Well, as if this WCQ campaign could stink anymore, it has now completely gone from crap to shite. Reports from the Deportivo website (via squizz) say Julian De Guzman is injured and out for 2 weeks. No DeRo, no Serioux, no De Guzman.
Ok, I was trying to soften the blow a little above by referring to our best player as merely "one of Mitchell's selections". This sucks. If it was a different player, I would be giving a cynical spiel about the club trying to protect their man from getting hurt in a pair of no-hope international matches. But I'm willing to give this de Guzman the benefit of the doubt. (The other de Guzman, on the other hand . . .)

Now, call me crazy, but of the three absences that the Fool is lamenting, Serioux might be the most important. De Guzman was brilliant against Jamaica, but was indifferent at best (a less generous soul might choose a different descriptor) against Honduras and Mexico. Dwayne De Rosario has been invisible since padding his national team stats against St. Vincent. Serioux has, among other things, scored a goal, put the hurt on a few opponents, and been one of the best players for Canada.

(It pains me to be agreeing with a coach who by all rights should be out the door, but he thinks Klukowski has been the man so far, which means Jim Brennan can stay home where he belongs:
"Mike Klukowski for me has been one of our better players, if not our best player over the three games," Mitchell said. "For those guys (Brennan and Jazic), they've got matches with their teams and I felt it was better they stayed with their teams and played -- rather than come away for 10 days and maybe be not be involved as much as they would like with us."

The de Guzman injury sucks, but the real tragedy would be if Mitchell doesn't call somebody up to replace him. With Julian scratched, there are now only 17 bodies for the Honduras match, and even though DDR has been poor, he's a warm body that plays midfield. Remaining midfielders include Atiba Hutchinson, Patrice Bernier, Chris Pozniak (umm...), and Kevin Harmse (gulp!), and wide players Tomasz Radzinski, Marcel de Jong, and maybe Iain Hume.

There are two reasonable options and I mentioned these recently: Will Johnson and Sandro Grande.

Sandro Grande
Pros: He's played for Canada before (12 caps, 1 goals); he's on a good run of form at the moment for the Montreal Impact
Cons: He's likely exhausted, although Montreal's schedule has opened up a little bit with the Impact losing out to the Whitecaps (nice 'impact' pun in the headline, hack) in the USL semifinals. Also, his defensive midfield role is the one spot where Canada's roster has depth (Bernier, Harmse and Poz all play or have played in this role for club and country).

Will, getting sliced down, on the right.

Will Johnson

Pros: Also seemingly on a good run of form, he is an automatic 90 minute player for awkwardly named Real Salt Lake of MLS. In addition, he has the box-to-box skills and high work rate that Julian brings to the table when he's in the mood. He's made his commitment to Canada clear with numerous performances at various levels, most recently the Olympic qualifiers with the U23s.
Cons: We've never really had a chance to see if he can perform at the full international level. He has played a total of 38 minutes over 4 caps, without making much of an impression.

You've probably already guessed that I favour Johnson. The 'unknown' factor might actually work in his favour, given the less than awesome performances we've come to expect from some of the known quantities.

Really, though, I'll be pleased if Mitchell and the CSA have the cojones to be make any sort of supplemental selection. Johnson, Grande, heck, even Martin Nash would have been a decent choice if the 'Caps weren't playing the next day.

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