Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Canada-Colombia: A live blog

international friendly
9:15 et / 8:15 ct / 7:15 mt / 6:15 pt (figure it out yourself, Atlantic Canada)
Sportsnet World / sportsnet.ca

Who live blogs a sporting event in 2014? This guy. I'm not being ironic. It's a throwback, which is in, I'm told.

So for the next 3 hours, check this space to watch me watch the action unfold.

The match: Canada signed on to this friendly relatively last minute, as Colombia looked to make the most of their trip to the USA during this international window. Colombia were winners Friday, 3-0 over another CONCACAF punching bag, El Salvador.

The squads: Canada sends a mixed squad to the match that includes veterans Pedro Pacheco, Nik Ledgerwood, Julian de Guzman, and Tosaint Ricketts, among others. The squad is missing first XI calibre players in Jonathan Osorio, Russell Teibert, Atiba Hutchinson and Will Johnson. Colombia brings a few young faces to freshen up a squad that made a splash at Brazil this summer.

The rankings: Colombia sits 3rd in the FIFA rankings, but I could name 7 or 8 teams I rate more highly than them. Canada sits 120th, probably a low water mark, and despite the team's recent ineptitude, worse than they really deserve.

The lineups: As per CSA twitter:

I see your James Rodriguez, and I raise you one Nik Ledgerwood.

The beer: I'll be drinking some homebrew which I had considered dumping, but which is almost drinkable if you cut it with enough lime, perhaps an appropriate metaphor for this match.

The betting lines:  Depends where you look. I saw between 12- and 15-to-1 for a Canada win. One site was paying 2.40x for Colombia -2.5, which seems the smart bet,.

It's been a long time. Does the most recent stuff go on the top or the bottom?

7:58 pm: While waiting for the match to begin I've been updating the Canadian content stats (see sidebar link for details) and I accidentally watched 15 minutes of The Bachelor Canada, which is actually a thing. We're not off to a great start.

8:03 pm: The numbers have been hashed out. Ottawa: 33%, Edmonton 29.7%, Toronto 18.9%, Montreal 13.4%, Vancouver 7.9%. In case you were wondering.

8:04 pm: So El Salvador might suck. In the first match of the doubleheader, they lost 5-1 to Ecuador.

8:06 pm: 9 minutes to kickoff. I voted after work today, so the evening hasn't been a complete write off.

8:09 pm: The live stream is now live. With flags and music. It's on!

8:12 pm: Stream now showing moving pictures. Julian de Guzman, tonight's captain, sporting a recently BIC'd head.

Remember the good ol' days, Julian?

8:18 pm: The start is delayed a few minutes. Which means it's a few minutes more likely that I go to bed before this thing is over. But we'll see. Stream not running the smoothest right now.

8:23 pm: Still waiting. Here's my best guess at an alignment (4-1-4-1) based on the lineup announced.

Henry  - Edgar - Hainault - de Jong
Ledgerwood - de Guzman - Pacheco - Nakajima-Farran

These are the XI that will make history.

8:26 pm: Is this the first we're hearing of a Canada-Cuba friendly that fell through? That would have been a far more useful match for Floro's squad.

Don't forget to keep refreshing for the latest.

8:30 pm: Hainault sings the anthem in English? Pacheco knows the words? A mind is being blown here, folks.

Colombia's anthem is as Sousa-esque as the rest of the continent.

1st minute: And we're off.

2': It looks as though I got the formation largely right (see above).

3': Hey guys, remember vuvuzelas?

4': My stream is shit, and I'm biased, but that's a penalty for Ricketts. Thanks again, Juan Guzman.

6': Maybe it's because the stream is skipping and I've seen each of his good plays twice, but Issey has looked bright so far.

8': Nice little training ground move on that set piece by Colombia. Bonus points to anyone who can come up with a good Cuadrado Equation line.

13': It's too soon to say much about the job Benito Floro's done with Canada, but he seems to have found the right roles for Straith and Henry. Doneil's too much a specimen to be wasted at RB for his club, but he might the be the best Canada has in that role for the next few years. And breaking up attacks in front of the back four seems to be Straith's calling. Expect to see him in that job at this next club, whatever that might be.

16': What this game is missing is a guy with a man-bun.

17': A spell of pressure and passing for Colombia in Canada's 18, and the ball is in the net from Falcao. But it's offside. I still need 3 Colombia goals for by bet to pay out.

19': Nice challenge by de Guzman, who is fouled. He can still do a job very well, and dare I say would be a nice addition to Toronto FC, who need a ball-winner, if the price was right. But he wants to play in Germany.

22': A surprising number of heavy challenges in this friendly. I like it.

And I like that at least one of you is refreshing this thing and reading along. Chime in with the comments, if you like.

And Dichio calls the Colombian on the old "ball hits my hand so I clutch my face" bullshit. His first useful contribution.

25': Canada looked dangerous again on that corner. Edgar got to the ball before the keeper, but couldn't keep his header down.

Possession is 62-38 for Colombia.

27': Rodriguez misses the net on the free kick. What a scrub. Danny Dichio is not a Juan Guzman fan.

29': Nice spell there from Canada, and a sure handball just outside the box isn't called. The nice run ends with a way over-hit cross from Henry.

32': Encouraging so far from Canada. Less encouraging is that some of the nicest surprises are the 30+ guys: Pacheco, de Guzman and Nakajima-Farran.

35': I've really enjoyed the improved hold-up play from Ricketts in the last few matches. He may be able to play as a target forward in CONCACAF. Straith, on the other hand, has not been sharp, and has been on a different page from de Guzman and Pacheco on a few occasions.

37': Strong defensive play from Hainault prevents a likely goal from Falcao.

39': Nakajima-Farran Robbens himself into a good spot for a shot, but hits it wide. This is the best I've seen from him in a while.

41': Ledgerwood, to no one's surprise, is the worst guy out there. Free kick in a dangerous position for Colombia, but we know James will miss it.

42': Great save from Manuel Neuer, I mean Milan Borjan, on the resulting free kick.

44': Jose Pekerman looks like death warmed over, which is perhaps a bit harsh to say of a guy who's mom just died.

HT: Hands up if you thought this one would get to half time at 0-0. Sure, Colombia has dominated possession, but the fact that Canada has largely been able to keep its shape is a credit to Floro, and will stand the team in good stead when they pay important Central American matches.

You can rest assured that the frequency of these updates will tail off if Colombia scores. Or the longer Canada stays level.

Further thoughts: Doneil Henry is a good fit at right back when Canada plays a strong opponent because he is so strong defensively, and any occasional gaffes that TFC fans like to complain about (while overlooking his other contributions) aren't as severely punished away from the middle. But boy, does he need to spend some time with his passing.

And Ledgerwood might be the only player about whom I struggle to find one nice thing to say about his play in the first half.

Just so we don't get carried away in disappointed rage in the 2nd half, can we all agree that Canada will still probably lose 3-nil?

46': No substitutions for Canada at half, although Ledgerwood surely can't be long for this match.

48': I feel badly for de Guzman, who clearly still has much to offer, but wants to play in Germany, where teams no doubt would prefer a midfielder of more imposing physique.

50': De Jong falls down and Falcao shoots just over. And in other news, the off-the-mark homebrew that I imbibed was indeed foul, but has produced the desired effect.

Benito Floro on the bench looks thoroughly unperturbed.

53': David Edgar clearly has a lot of ability. It is surprising he hasn't landed at a higher level professionally.

You will notice that several of my time-stamps aren't particularly close to being correct.

56': Borjan makes a decent save from a long effort by Cuadrado. Canada has prolonged the inevitable longer than one might have reasonably expected. And shortly after, a nice defensive play by Doneil Henry.

58': As I called for earlier, Ledgerwood exits. Marcus Haber enters. I suspect Tosaint Ricketts will be moved to the wing to allow room for Haber in the middle.


59': Colombia has not countered often as Canada has so rarely made its way up the pitch, but on that occasion Pacheco and de Guzman did a great job getting back to prevent a numeric advantage. And Rodriguez just now misses a chance.

62': De Jong is now in no-shits-given mode, much as he was after his goal against Jamaica. This will not end well.

De Guzman also is tiring. I fear for this team's defensive shape when he is withdrawn. He's been immense.

Adam Straith hasn't the first idea what to do with the ball, which is a pity, as he is better than decent at winning it.

69': Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare enters for Pacheco, who to my astonishment has done well. Despite his preternaturally bald head, Jeremy is not experienced. This drop off in ability will be punished on the pitch.

70': Slamming into guys like James Rodriguez with slightly thuggish challenges has to be some kind of career highlight for a lot of these Canada players.

73': Before we get too carried away, let's remind ourselves that this Colombia team is 1) not the third-best in the world, and 2) does not seem particularly concerned about things at the moment.

A good time for the stream to freeze up. I fully expect it to be 1-0 when it returns.

Yup. You will be reading less from me the rest of the way.

Quick free kick, Rodriguez strikes, Borjan inattentive and poorly positioned.

75': Ouimette in for de Jong. Normally a huge drop-off, but de Jong has not had a strong second half.

De Guzman has had a great game and deserves to be on the game sheet. So he goes in late and gets a yellow.

82': Julian de Guzman should send a reel of this match to any prospective employer. Adam Straith should not.

85': Cyle Larin (who?) in for Tosaint Ricketts. Ricketts did well until he was moved over to the wing.

88': I haven't said much about Hainault tonight, which in this case is a good thing. He's been solid. Dichio has also been good in the commentary booth (well, the studio).  He had been terrible calling the Jamaica friendly.

Borjan with a nice save, then de Guzman takes the ball when Borjan should have gobbled it up.

Larin scoring against Colombia would have been the LOLs.

And now Larin with a nice through ball for Haber, who is fouled. FK in a dangerous spot. What the hell am I writing.

More young guys on for Canada, but not Hanson Boakai. Hamilton and Aparicio are in. Aparicio with two cracks off the free kick. Both are blocked. He is 4'6" and those are his first contributions.

FT: And that's how it ends folks. 1-0 on kind of a chintzy quick free kick play which was taken from the wrong spot. Floro will be reasonably happy, I think.

MOTM is surely some Colombian, but Julian de Guzman was in 2007 form for Canada.

That was fun, and I likely won't do it again. Thanks for reading.

Oh yeah, I lost my bet. Those are 90 minutes and $3 I'll never get back.