Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A dire situation?

Sometimes a blog is a blog. Other times, it's a place to re-hash message board posts, only by providing a little more detail, it's almost like you're writing something new. This is one of those times.

There's a thread right now at the Voyageurs forums about Lars Hirschfeld's club situation at CFR Cluj in Romania. It looks like he might be on the way out. For the time being, he's getting paid rather handsomely to warm the bench. His lack of play (over a year without breaking a sweat, and counting) is well documented.

While people were taking turns lamenting his stagnating career and touting his folk-hero status (he bought a tray of shooters for some Voyageurs after Canada-Mexico in Edmonton, so the story goes), I waded in and pissed in everybody's cornflakes by pointing to the inactivity of Canada's goalkeepers generally. (Does that mean that I was wading in a bowl of cornflakes mixed with piss?)

In case you hadn't noticed, the keepers that are on Canada's depth charts aren't doing a whole lot professionally these days. Here's a rundown:
  • Lars Hirschfeld. Getting paid to ride the pine in Romania
  • Greg Sutton. Supplanted by younger and better looking Stefan Frei at TFC.
  • Pat Onstad. Still getting it done in MLS, but he's as old as the hills.
  • Josh Wagenaar. He's been called up to back for Canada few times, so he's in the mix. Unfortunately, he's not in the mix for his club, Yeovil Town FC, right now, as he's been supplanted by a new signing.
  • Asmir Begovic. He's the backup right now for Portsmouth, but I think we all know he's not EPL quality quite yet. So he doesn't play (except with the reserves).
  • Kenny Stamatopoulos. He's playing in Norway somewhere. Or not playing. I can't fake understanding Norwegian well enough to navigate the Tromso site.
If Canada was playing important matches right now, or at any time in the near future, I'd be worried. Thank goodness 2012 is still some ways away.

Ultimately, I think Hirschfeld is still the guy. I'm not going to rag on the guy for clocking his dollars in Transylvania. Plus I like his attitude:

The situation with Wagenaar and Begovic is more worrisome. They are the best of the 'next generation' of keepers right now, and it is disappointing to see their careers on hold.

Not helping matters is the fact that none of Canada's professional teams fields a Canadian starting goalkeeper.

We'll see if all of this has anything to do with performance when the Gold Cup rolls around this summer. It's not as if most other CONCACAF sides besides USA and Mexico have good goalkeeping, at least on paper.


ted said...

Then it's settled. We go to the next WCQ with Lars between the sticks backed up by Begovic (who'll only be 24). I don't care who plays in this year's Gold Cup (or any Gold Cup). Stick Sutton in there--give him something to do because he's not doing much at TFC, nor is he likely to be as long as Frei's around.

J said...


Welcome to the blog. I'm largely inclined to agree with you: inactive or not, Lars is our best goalkeeping option for the next several years. From the sounds of it I value the Gold Cup a little more than you do, but I'm fine with Sutton getting a shot for the tournament.

I haven't given up on Begovic or Wagenaar or any other keeper coming up through the ranks. However old they are currently, Josh and Asmir are both pups in keeper years. I think Begovic, with his size, has a bright future. Still, sometimes I'd rather be fully in the light than simply looking at the light at the end of the tunnel.

We should remember that our best goalkeeping performances in recent memory have come from Forrest who was a back up at the time as well.