Game in a sentence
- Despite playing with a man advantage for 86 minutes, Canada produce a dull performance against minnows in Tampa, securing three points through a fortunate penalty at the start of the second half.
- The game will be remembered for two major decisions by the referee so lets address them first, starting with the red card. Concacaf referees are often as useful as a chocolate fireguard but it has to be pointed out that tonight’s official Trevor Taylor got it absolutely right when he brought out the red card inside four minutes. Not many referees would have had the guts to send Jean-Luc Lambourde off for his reckless challenge on Will Johnson so early in the match but thankfully he did and fortunately the Canadian was able to continue.
- Four minutes into the second half, Taylor was in the spotlight again and this time he got it wrong. Dwayne De Rosario’s cross into the box was aimed at Ali Gerba who fell to the ground when he collided with centre-back Stephane Zubar. Taylor adjudged that Zubar fouled the Montreal striker when, in fact, he hardly touched him. De Rosario stepped up and scored his 16th international goal. Thankfully he didn’t break out the shake and bake celebration.
- It was the only positive thing the New York Red Bulls man did in the game. This was the kind of game that needed a superstar to step up and take over and De Rosario proved why he never has been that in his career. His distribution from corners and free-kicks was poor as was his passing that all too often brought a premature end to possession for Canada. He may well have done better in a central role but on the right for 57 minutes, until he was substituted, he was nowhere near the player his coaching staff expect him to be.
- It will be interesting to see if De Rosario is picked to start Tuesday’s game against Panama because after this display it is clear that more changes will be coming.
- Canada actually made four changes from the match against USA and all four of the players coming in made a difference. The most notable absentee was Atiba Hutchinson who missed out through injury. Julian De Guzman replaced him, returning to the team after missing the game in Detroit with a calf injury and played very well, taking advantage of the space to often start many of his team’s attacks.
- Marcel De Jong also missed out through injury and based on the way his replacement, Mike Klukowski, played he may not start another game at the Gold Cup. Klukowski connected really well down the left with his club team-mate Josh Simpson and put in a number of excellent crosses.
- Ali Gerba, who was preferred over Simeon Jackson, had a decent hour before the Norwich City striker replaced him but wasn’t clinical with the few chances he was provided with.
- The fourth and final change came in goal where Milan Borjan replaced Lars Hirschfeld and had an excellent match. Borjan, as you can imagine against 10-men for 86 minutes, wasn’t overly busy but produced two brilliant saves, either side of half-time, to deny Guadeloupe when it was still scoreless. Borjan also wasn’t shy to (rightfully) give his defenders the riot act after allowing a team to break them open playing 4-3-1-1, showing some much-needed leadership qualities in goal.
- All-in-all it was a night of very few positives for Canada’s coaching staff when thinking about the big picture, but narrowing the focus means it is three points inside of Group C of the Gold Cup as they head to Kansas City to play Panama on Tuesday. Stephen Hart and his staff have three days to find more creativity and pace in attack down the middle. Hopefully Hutchinson and De Guzman can play together for the first time in the Gold Cup, a tournament that the Canadians have yet to get out of first gear in.
- Julian De Guzman
- Milan Borjan
- Mike Klukowski