21 players in total have seen the pitch so far in 2011:
|Dwayne De Rosario||1||90|
|David Edgar||2 ||37|
Atiba Hutchinson is the only player to play every minute of both matches. This should come as no surprise -- he is by now the most accomplished Canadian international and will be the key player in midfield for the upcoming qualifying cycle.
4 other players have started both matches: Josh Simpson, Will Johnson, Simeon Jackson, and Milan Borjan. Simpson is one of Canada's most dynamic attacking players, and should be a part of any Canadian XI in the near future if he is available. Johnson is clearly valued by Hart, and that he was one of 2 MLS players selected for the Belarus match is evidence of that. His work rate and ability to adapt his play to a system are key factors. Simeon Jackson plays a similar role to Simpson on the opposite wing, but reviews for his last match were not good and he has fallen out of favour at Norwich. He will need to improve to remain a key player for Canada.
Newcomer Milan Borjan is the most interesting inclusion among the multiple starters. The consensus among Canadian supporters is that Lars Hirschfeld will not be made available for the Gold Cup, meaning that Borjan will be the de facto #1. What to make, then, of Hart giving both keepers a half vs Belarus? I suppose it sends a message that both are in the picture for the #1 job once WCQ comes around.
Rob Friend, Jaime Peters, Pedro Pacheco, David Edgar, and Tosaint Ricketts all appeared in both matches. It appears that Hart values Friend and I'd suspect he'll be part of rosters for the Gold Cup and subsequent qualifiers. Jaime Peters needs to solidify his club role. Edgar and Ricketts are depth players, but I suspect they would be replaced by North American options when possible (Terry Dunfield can play the defensive midfield role much better than Edgar at this point).
Pedro Pacheco is an interesting player. We've not actually seen much of his play, of course, but he plays a different role than most Canadian players. Hart lined him up in the #10 spot yesterday, playing off of and behind the central striker, Friend. If he can maintain or improve his club level, I'd not be surprised to see him playing significant minutes in this role for the rest of the year. It is my impression that Pacheco, while undoubtedly not as talented as Dwayne De Rosario, would be more willing to adapt his talents to Hart's system, which is beginning to take shape.
Ultimately, we will see what Hart really sees as the core of his team when he selects the roster for the Gold Cup in June.
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Speaking of the Gold Cup, Canada will be preparing for the tournament with a friendly, on home soil, in the week leading up to the tournament. Although the host city has not been announced (Toronto is seen as the likely site), a friendly for June 1st has been confirmed with Ecuador the opponent.
Ecuador are ranked 49th by FIFA. Canada has played Ecuador twice before, a 2-0 loss at the 2002 Gold Cup, and a 2-1 loss as part of the 1999 Canada Cup in Edmonton. It will be good preparation for the Gold Cup, a chance to get a result and improve our FIFA ranking, and most importantly, the 3rd home friendly within 10 months!