Saturday, November 05, 2011

WCQ week: 5 things to watch

Canada has two matches remaining in its round 2 preliminary group stage of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. Both matches are against St Kitts & Nevis: this Friday, November 11th, in Basseterre, and the return fixture on Tuesday, November 15th at BMO Field in Toronto.

Here are 5 things to watch for during these upcoming matches.

1. Will we be able to watch the match in St Kitts?

October's 7-0 win in St Lucia was not broadcast on Sportsnet, nor on TV anywhere in the world. Canadian fans had make do with an improvised audio broadcast by CSA media man Max Bell and Red Nation's Gavin Iday. According to a Voyageurs thread on the matter, Sportsnet, represented by Gerry Dobson and John Molinaro, are investigating whether the local internet infrastracture could support a web stream of the match. If not, expect a repeat performance from Max and Gavin which, in all fairness, was pretty good last time.

2. Can De Rosario finally break Dale Mitchell's goals record?

Dwayne De Rosario has 18 goals in a Canada shirt. Dale Mitchell's record is 19. I get the feeling that this number has become a bit of a distraction for all involved. As much as I am ambivalent about De Ro's play for Canada, it would be a great achievement for the man and some much deserved recognition.

I'd much rather see him do the job now instead of have the chase for 20 linger into the next round of WCQs where turning into Me Ro would be a bit more damaging to the team.

3. Is there an answer to Canada's right back woes?

In this round of qualifying both David Edgar, a centre back, and Nik Ledgerwood, a defensive midfielder, have been used at the right back spot. Neither covered themselves in glory, though Edgar arguably had the better performances. This is a weak spot for Canada and as long as coach Stephen Hart insists that his best option for right back, Andre Hainault (who has not called for these matches), is a central defender, the question marks will remain. Youngster Matt Stinson played a few times on the right side of defense for Toronto this year but I don't expect him to feature in either match as anything other than a midfield substitute.

4. How many goals will Canada score?

This might be primarily of interest to me and a few others with whom I corresponded via this blog and twitter. Before this round began I solicited predictions of Canada's total goals scored over the 6 matches, then weighed the results.

So far this round Canada has managed 14 goals; the median from my 20 or so predictors was 14.5, the median 15.4. The most optimistic fan predicted 25 goals, which seems unlikely at this point.

5. Oh yeah. Will we qualify for the next round?

This is kind of the whole point, and while it would be nothing less than what fans should expect of Canada, nobody should be feeling 100% confident after the team failed to take maximum points from Puerto Rico at BMO Field last month. A single point is all that is required. We all hope this will be secured in Basseterre so Stephen Hart can have the flexibility to consider all his lineup options for the last match of the group on the 15th.

Will you be watching?


Anonymous said...

I don't think we are going to get a good grasp of the RB spot until we play some better quality opposition in spring friendlies, especially against a team with some good attacking threat down the left. The problem with these matches is that they have tendency to lead people to overrate individual player performances more often than underrate them. We have to get the formula right especially against Honduras and their talented left wingback Izaguirre.


jonathan said...

I don't think these matches will provide a clear answer for RB, but even against weaker opponents it's pretty clear Ledgerwood isn't the man for the job. Hopefully there are no further issues with Hainault being made available in the future and he makes the right back spot his own.