Saturday, March 19, 2011

Canada roster for Belarus friendly

The Belarus friendly is a little over a week away and Stephen Hart has released a largely European-based roster for the match, to be played in Antalya, Turkey on March 29th. Only 2 MLS players, Will Johnson and Andre Hainault, will be making the trip.

The roster:

Player Pos. Team League
Lars Hirschfeld GK Vålerenga Oslo Norway
Jaime Peters D Ipswich Town England
Mike Klukowski M Ankaragücü Turkey
Kevin McKenna CB FC Köln Germany
André Hainault D Houston Dynamo MLS
Pedro Pacheco M CD Santa Clara Portugal
Paul Stalteri D Borussia Monchengladbach Germany
Will Johnson M Real Salt Lake MLS
Rob Friend F Hertha Berlin Germany
Simeon Jackson M Norwich City England
Josh Simpson M Manisaspor Turkey
Adam Straith CB Energie Cottbus Germany
Atiba Hutchinson M PSV Eindhoven Germany
David Edgar D Burnley England
Nik Ledgerwood D SV Wehen Wiesbaden Germany
Tosaint Ricketts M/F FC Politehnica Timiþoara Romania
Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault D/M Tottenham Hotspur England
Milan Borjan GK FK Rad Serbia

Goals and caps

Player Caps Goals
Lars Hirschfeld 32 0
Jaime Peters 24 1
Mike Klukowski 28 0
Kevin McKenna 48 10
André Hainault 17 1
Pedro Pacheco 2 0
Paul Stalteri 84 7
Will Johnson 14 0
Rob Friend 29 2
Simeon Jackson 14 2
Josh Simpson 31 1
Adam Straith 6 0
Atiba Hutchinson 51 3
David Edgar 1 0
Nik Ledgerwood 6 0
Tosaint Ricketts 1 0
Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault 3 0
Milan Borjan 1 0
Total 392 27
Average 23 1.59

A few thoughts, in point form:
  • Again, we see the depth of Canadian players currently plying their trade in Germany. 6 of the 18 players selected are based in the country.
  • Paul Stalteri is again included. What to make of this? Last game, against Greece, Stalteri was left off initially, but then called in due to injury. We saw in that match the lack of the depth at the outside back spots. I'm ok with the selection as long as he doesn't start.
  • Good to see Mike Klukowski back after being left off of previous rosters for undisclosed 'personal reasons'. Strange to see him listed by the CSA as a midfielder.
  • Weird not to see Marcel de Jong among the 18. He was selected for Greece but had to withdraw due to injury. He's been playing 90 minutes weekly for his club since then. I know he plays a similar role to Klukowski, but surely there's a role for both in the squad.
  • Some debate on the Voyageurs that Iain Hume and Olivier Occean should have been called, and Rob Friend left off. Personally, I don't think any get near the starting XI when the North American contingent is also available, so it hardly matters.
  • Expect to see Tosaint Ricketts or Josh Simpson get at least a half playing as the lone striker in the 4-5-1.
  • It seems Pedro Pacheco has established himself as a regular selection, at least for European games. And why not? He's now starting regularly at a decent level, while most of Canada's midfield depth is playing in the USA and Canada.
  • Does it seem strange to you that Will Johnson only has 14 caps?
It's not the strongest possible Canada roster, of course, but under the circumstances I think it's fine. It should be enough to do the job against a poor Belarus side. Your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Here are a few of my thoughts, Jono:

-Ricketts appears to have jumped above Nakajima-Farran on the depth chart. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do.
-I wonder if Edgar will be deployed as a d-mid instead of central defense. Hainault's inclusion makes me think it may be either a McKenna-Hainault or a McKenna-Straith partnership at CB. With no De Jong, Klukowski will certainly be the LB (good to see him back).
-With Hainault's inclusion and Pozniak's exclusion can we finally put to rest any notion of a return of the Poz to MNT duty? Frankly, I'm happy with that: to me, Hainault is the better utility guy to have in all the back four positions.
-Johnson is clearly building an important role within Hart's starting 11 and I can see why: a good team guy, tactically aware (especially with his defensive responsibilities). I wonder if he and Pacheco will start in centre mid in support of Hutchinson?
-I like Hume. I admire his strength in returning from serious injury. I like his commitment to Canada. I like having him come off the bench as a latter game offensive spark (could have helped vs Greece?). Don't like/Never liked him as a starter at the international level, regardless of what he does at PNE. Too much of a tactically and technically undisciplined run around guy.
-JBB, a central mid starter vs the Ukraine, and Ledgerwood (competing with Peters at RB?) are in the side. "Ghost of Xmas Past" Paul Stalteri is strictly cover at LB, IMO.
-Finally, I think fans should accept the fact that in order for this team to be successful against comparable or superior opposition it has to be built on a stocked and compact midfield, capitalizing on a pressing opponent's turnovers in that area of the field and creating counterstrikes. I think there is this romantic notion that if we play two up top or a true 4-3-3 we are going to be some offensive juggernaut in CONCACAF and that just isn't going to happen. We need a tight, organized side and I believe is on the right track with that.


J said...

That's a pretty thorough analysis and your last point is key. While it would always be nice to find a few more goals in the squad, Canada's undoing in qualifying last time was being opened up too easily on the defensive end.

A one way player like Hume, who lacks a bit for passing ability and tactical awareness, won't help much in that regard.