Canada - Honduras goes tomorrow afternoon in Philadelphia in the Gold Cup quarterfinals, and I couldn't be more excited. At least there is no way I could get more excited about a team that flopped out of World Cup qualifying and doesn't have a permanent coach.
There's a nice article on the Gold Cup site which profiles Will Johnson and the attitude he and his teammates have towards the tournament:
"Ever since I started playing for Canada, no one ever expects us to win anything so there's never any expectations or things like that," Johnson said. "I don't think winning the group is enough to make a statement. We need to go, and continue our run in order to make a big statement for this association."Amen. However, I am tired of reading lines like this:
While Canada is without regulars Dwayne De Rosario and Jim Brennan, who remained with Toronto FC, the younger players are getting experience training with the likes of Julian de Guzman, Atiba Hutchinson and Patrice Bernier.I'm not the biggest Dwayne De Rosario fan and I don't think he makes this team any better if he's here (you can ask me why), but I'll grant that he is still an important player for the NT. But reporters that assume that Brennan is both a) a regular, and b) an important omission, are nothing short of reprehensibly lazy.
How far out of the picture is Brennan? Let me count the ways:
- He basically told the CSA, under the last coach, to go fuck themselves. I think the feeling is likely mutual, and he hasn't even been called since.
- He is at best second choice for the left back spot for Canada, but I have him ranked third best. Mike Klukowski is miles ahead, and Marcel de Jong is a more useful player as well.
- He's not even the best Canadian defender on his own team (hey there Adrian Serioux!)
- He's too old to be called for any more meaningful matches. His career is on the decline, and he has no future with Canada.
Canada soccer all Hart: Some interesting hints about whether Stephen will throw his hat in the ring the next time the permanent job is open, which I guess is now.
Canadian soccer fans also can appreciate that whenever Hart has been named interim head coach, he gets results.
In 2007, Hart led Canada to an impressive run to the Gold Cup semifinals, where a brutal officiating mistake by Mexican referee Benito Archundia cost the Canucks a tying goal against eventual tournament champion, the United States.
When Dale Mitchell took over as coach, Canada's World Cup qualifying campaign fizzled. Now, Hart is back and Canada is undefeated at the Gold Cup, despite MLS all-star Dwayne De Rosario staying with TFC this time around.
But will Hart make a push to drop the interim tag?
"It's no secret, I applied the last time. But the upcoming scenario is different," he said.
Hart said that, after the Gold Cup, the coach of Canada must embark on a three-year plan to get ready for World Cup 2014 qualifying.
"(The job) is something I am going to take into consideration," he said.
On an unrelated note, if you're from South Africa, and you've come to this site searching for a preview or history of Canada-Honduras matchups, welcome. Care to explain the sudden spike in attention from the 2010 WC host nation, which has accounted for about 20% of my traffic over the last two days?
If you're keen to make some money, most online bookies have Canada as underdogs, paying as much as 3 to 1. Honduras were underdogs earlier in the week.
USL: Something in the water?
The 2009 season hasn't been kind to the USL's Canadian entries. Both Montreal and Vancouver finished well in last year's campaign and into the playoffs, and the Whitecaps ended up champions. This year, both teams are struggling.
Vancouver's struggles are understandable: they've gone to a younger team in order to lay the foundation for their 2011 MLS squad. Even with a young squad, they nearly won the Voyageurs Cup until the debacle at Saputo.
Montreal has stunk, before and after that unfortunate evening. But that's when things started to get crazy.
First it was Vancouver. 30+ year old players Wesley Charles and Charles Gbeke got into it, and were suspended for two games:
Then the troubles shifted east. To wit:
In a match in Minnesota, underperforming Impact veterans Sandro Grande and Mauro Biello got into it. Sandro has since been suspended.
Now the problems have gone right to the top. Impact coach Marc dos Santos has been suspended for pushing a Rochester player on the neck after the Rhino tried to retrieve the ball from dos Santos for a throw-in.
This shitstorm will get worse before it gets better.