Sunday, February 06, 2011

Roster changes for Canada-Greece (and other news)

The curse of the German-based Canadian national team defenders continues. News that Kevin McKenna had been ruled out of action for this Wednesday's friendly in Greece came down mere hours after the roster had been released. Now, more bad news: Nik Ledgerwood and Marcel de Jong, possible candidates for the RB and LB spots respectively, are both not making the trip.

As a replacement, Stephen Hart was forced to call up Paul Stalteri, a man who hasn't played for his club in over a year. This is what Hart said about Stalteri on the conference call after the original lineup for this friendly was released:
I did speak with Paul at length about his situation and what he is trying to do. In the discussion, I told him that I wouldn't be bringing him in for this game and he understands the situation completely. He has not been playing and he's trying to rectify his situation. Once he gets playing again we will keep an on eye on him to see how he is progressing. [rednation]
While Hart likely had few players he could have called at the last minute, I'm a little disappointed that Paul will be flying in. As long as Stalteri is content to collect a paycheque instead of fight for a starting job elsewhere, he is not a realistic option for any of Canada's important matches in the next year or two. We need to see what else we have.

At the very least, I'd like Hart to do his best to keep Stalteri out of the starting XI, though that becomes more difficult with De Jong's absence (I hadn't expected him to start). This was my preferred starting group that I posted yesterday:

Straith - Edgar - Jakovic - de Jong
Johnson - Pacheco - Hutchinson
Jackson - Friend - Simpson

There are no obvious candidates to replace de Jong at left back, which is why I worry Stalteri might start there. He has filled in at that spot before. Jaime Peters might have played a few games there for Ipswich. But here's my proposed back four:

Peters - Straith - Jakovic - Edgar

David Edgar would like to be a centre back, but he has so far been mostly played at other positions by Newcastle and Burnley. I believe he was starting at left back when he scored his EPL goal against United. I'd rather have Peters start than Stalteri, though I have little confidence in either. Alternatively, if Adrian Cann shows he has the legs, Hart could send out this group.

Straith - Cann - Jakovic - Edgar.

Needless to say, I've revised my prediction from 1-0 to 2-0 for Greece.

* * * * *

Other news in brief:

Canada will play Belarus in an international friendly to be played at a neutral site in Turkey on March 29th. This is a two-match window, so Canada could still possibly line up another opponent for the 25th or 26th, but my guess is they won't.

Canada moved up 4 spots in the most recent FIFA rankings, but more importantly, remain 8th among CONCACAF teams.

Greece has also named its roster for the Canada match.

Hey, I said brief, right?


Jamie said...

I'm in agreement with your revised prediction: weak Cdn backline = loss 2-0.
That said though, I dream of Simpson and Ricketts using their East Europeaness and pot one each (Hutch sets up both) in a 2-1 victory.
Here in Sweden, Svenskaspel is paying 6.70 for a Canada win. Despite my better judgement, I've taken the odds.

jonathan said...

I made an emotional hedge, betting (and winning) a 3-way parlay with Greece, Netherlands, and Spain. I was sweating a bit because Spain left it late. Still, I'm too much of a chicken to lay more than 5 euros at a time.

I guess I should have stuck with my original prediction. I saw some of the match and the team has promise. A sturdier backline would really have helped.

BearcatSA said...

BearcatSA from the Vs here! You have a good blog!

I see that Pacheco didn't play until the latter stages of the match, being passed over by Edgar as the the d-mid bolstering option after the Greeks went one up. Do you think that Hart sees him as a viable starting option in his midfield three?

J said...

BearcatSA: Thanks for reading, I hope you keep checking in.

re: Pacheco. The guy is somewhat of a mystery, as you well know, but I'd be surprised if he becomes a midfield fixture. As much as injuries and lack of depth make it difficult, Hart (rightly) seems to put a lot of stock into a player's league pedigree and quantity of minutes. Barely getting time in the Portuguese 2nd division doesn't impress. I suspect he'll be kept around as depth, but de Guzman will take his spot when healthy. I suspect also it will become more difficult to select him when matches shift to North America (GC and WCQ).

BearcatSA said...

I never saw the Venezuela match where Pacheco made his debut, so I can't rate him either way. I thought it was telling that Hart chose to go with Edgar (a fullback and CB at club level) to bolster the middle of the park when things began to go a little pear shaped in the first part of the second half.

As much as I like the terrier like defensive energy Johnson (or even Dunfield) brings, I still feel a midfield configuration of he/Bernier, De Guzman and Hutchinson is a little lightweight. I'm still waiting for that bigger defensive presence to block up and shield the back four from a holding position just in front of them. That would make us harder to break down, especially in away ties.

J said...

I don't know if the big destroyer midfielder is necessarily required against (generally) smaller Central American opposition, but it would certainly be a nice option to have. Not sure who we have in our player pool that would fit that bill.

As to Pacheco, he apparently prefers, and more often plays, a more attacking central midfield role, which might help explain Hart's choice of Edgar.