Monday, May 28, 2012

Canada roster updates

It is not uncommon for there to be changes to a Canada roster after the team has been announced. Niggling injuries, stubborn clubs, even players deciding to play for other countries often prevent all of the first choice team from getting together.

Never, though, have I seen an injury as serious as the one that has taken Josh Simpson out of the lineup for June's qualifiers, and the rest of 2012's matches as well.

Josh suffered a fracture to his leg and is expected to take at least 8 months to recover.  The tweet below was typical of the reaction of many fans:

I'm heartbroken for Josh, who must be crushed to be missing out on WCQ, possibly the last chance for him in his career.  But I'm not ready to take part in the collective wailing and gnashing of teeth, nor am I ready to admit that Canada's chances are well and truly fucked now, or at least no more than they were already.

Simpson is an attacking wide player.  He has some speed, though not as much as he once did.  He sometimes links well with those around him.  He has scored 4 goals for Canada, but only one against a quality opponent.  I thought he was ineffective at times in Canada's matches last fall.

His absence creates a whole in attack, but Stephen Hart should take this opportunity to consider fielding a more defensive lineup. Canada scored in all but its last match the last time they reached this round, but failed to keep a clean sheet in any of them.  If they can tighten things up defensively their chances will be greatly improved.

In any case, Simpson's injury has necessitated the following change:

Player Pos. Team League Age Caps Gls

Dejan Jakovic D DC United MLS 26 11 0

Josh Simpson M Young Boys Bern Switzerland 29 43 4

This is clearly not a like-for-like swap.  Word is that Adam Straith was originally called to a 23-man squad, but was left off the list due to a late injury.  Dejan Jakovic's return to health came at an opportune time for Stephen Hart; his selection had nothing to do with Simpson's injury.  It's not all bad news for Straith -- he has signed a new deal with his current club FC Saarbruecken.

It remains to be seen what Hart will do to fill the void left by the Simpson injury.  It's possible he'll select another player and run with a 23-man squad for now, though the only men that could adequately fill Simpson's spot on the field are either too old (Tomasz Radzinski) or intransigent (Junior Hoilett).  Another option would to be consider adding a player in a slightly different position.  Patrice Bernier had a great game for Montreal on the weekend, and could add some offense out of midfield.

I'll be sure to keep you updated (no more than 5 days late, I promise!) on any other roster moves.

If you haven't already, see my thoughts on the original 22-man roster.

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