Monday, May 23, 2011

Canada roster for Gold Cup

With the focus of this blog over the last month having largely been on the 2011 edition of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, the 2011 Gold Cup has really snuck up on me. It's only 15 days until the opening clash at Ford Field in Detroit against USA, and a mere 8 days until the warm-up friendly against Ecuador on June 1st at BMO Field.

On this holiday Monday, Stephen Hart announced the 23 selections that will make up his squad for the Gold Cup. Presumably the team that will face Ecuador will be drawn from the same pool.

# Player Pos. Team League Age Caps Goals
1 Lars Hirschfeld GK Vålerenga Fotball Norway 32 33 0
2 Nik Ledgerwood D/M SV Wehen Wiesbaden Germany 26 7 0
3 Mike Klukowski D/M unattached na 30 29 0
4 Kevin McKenna CB FC Köln Germany 31 49 10
5 André Hainault CB Houston Dynamo MLS 24 18 2
6 Julian de Guzman M Toronto FC MLS 30 44 4
7 Terry Dunfield M Vancouver Whitecaps FC MLS 28 2 0
8 Will Johnson M Real Salt Lake MLS 24 15 0
9 Rob Friend F Hertha BSC Germany 30 30 2
10 Ali Gerba F Impact Montréal NASL 29 29 15
11 Josh Simpson M Vestel Manisaspor Turkey 28 32 1
12 Pedro Pacheco M CD Santa Clara Portugal 26 3 0
13 Atiba Hutchinson M PSV Eindhoven Netherlands 28 52 3
14 Dwayne De Rosario F New York Red Bull MLS 33 56 15
15 Dejan Jakovic D DC United MLS 25 10 0
16 Tosaint Ricketts M/F FC Politehnica Timiþoara Romania 23 2 0
17 Simeon Jackson M Norwich City England 24 15 2
18 Milan Borjan GK FK Rad Serbia 23 2 0
19 Marcel de Jong M FC Augsburg Germany 24 15 1
20 Jaime Peters D Ipswich Town FC England 24 25 1
21 Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault M SC Preußen Münster Germany 22 3 0
22 Haidar Al-Shaïbani GK Nîmes Olympique France 27 1 0
23 Issey Nakajima-Farran M AC Horsens Denmark 27 24 1

Averages 26.87 21.57 2.48

At first glance, there seem to be few surprises here. A few posters on the Voyageurs board are bemoaning the absence of David Edgar, but a guy who only made 7 appearances this season doesn't make my team. There is the usual over-the-top criticism of Rob Friend, but as long as Stephen Hart insists on fielding a team that features a target striker Friend is one of the best options for that role. He was effective, without scoring, in recent friendlies against Belarus and Honduras.

What is more interesting with this roster are some of the general trends. The breakdown of which countries and leagues are being drawn upon is always interesting. This time around, we have:
  • North America - 7 players: Hainault, de Guzman, Dunfield, Johnson, De Rosario, Jakovic (MLS) and Ali Gerba (NASL)
  • Germany - 5: Ledgerwood, McKenna, Friend, de Jong, Beaulieu-Bourgault
  • England - 2: Jackson, Peters
  • Turkey - 2: Simpson, Klukowski (I am counting him since his last port of call was Ankaragucu)
  • Norway, France, Denmark, Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia, Romania - 1 each
Quite the contrast with the Gold Cup winning team of 2000, which drew heavily on Scotland and the English lower divisions.

While Canada has always drawn upon North American leagues for depth, this is likely the first time so many of the likely starters have been plying their trade at home.

Fans should be under no illusions that this is a young or developmental squad. It is veteran-laden. The listed average age of 26.87 should really be about half a year higher as I based the calculation on current age in years, not months and days. The core of the team is older, and if they were to qualify for 2014, would be almost entirely composed of 30-somethings. The youngest player on the squad is Beaulieu-Bourgault at 22, but his involvement (along with al-Shaibani and Nakajima-Farran) is likely to be peripheral. Even some of the internationally inexperienced guys like Pacheco (3 caps) and Dunfield (2) are in their late 20s.

All of these players are by now well-known to Hart and to Canadian fans. It is not difficult to imagine how these will be arranged in a 4-5-1 (aka 4-3-3). I wouldn't expect many differences between my starting XI and that which Hart will put out:

Simpson - Friend - Jackson

Hutchinson - de Guzman - Johnson

Klukowski - Jakovic - McKenna - Hainault


The real questions are:
  • Right back. Hainault can do the job there, but he is also one of relatively few options for centre half. Ledgerwood has played there but is not one of the strongest players on the roster. Hart tends to use Peters more in an attacking super-sub role.
  • De Rosario. He is a man of large reputation and ego. He could start at any of the 3 more forward positions, but I don't think he should be first choice for any of them. Can he handle that?
  • Left back. Marcel de Jong likely had the better season. Klukowski quit his team earlier this year because he wasn't being paid. Will he be fit and sharp?
This is always an exciting tournament, and I look forward to watching these players represent the Maple Leaf.


Anonymous said...

"De Rosario. He is a man of large reputation and ego. He could start at any of the 3 more forward positions, but I don't think he should be first choice for any of them. Can he handle that?"

No. If Hart calls him into the squad, he's starting (unless he's nursing a short term injury).


J said...

I think you're probably right. I'm just not convinced that an XI that includes De Rosario is the best options for Canada.