Game in a sentence
Dwayne De Rosario’s record setting goal lifts Canada past Panama in a chippy, yet exhilarating affair at a raucous BMO field.
- Stephen Hart chose not to tinker with a defensive quartet that was effective in Canada’s match against Honduras two months ago. Simeon Jackson was favoured over Tosaint Rickets on the right flank and Lars Hirschfeld returned to the starting lineup after serving a one match ban due to his red card in Cuba. Surprisingly Patrice Bernier – August MLS player of the month – was left on the bench to begin.
- Canada were the dominant side in the first half. The combination of Jackson and Olivier Occean was impressive throughout with the Norwich City man carrying over his strong club performance to the national team. Atiba Hutchinson – when healthy – is a dynamo. The high tempo game suited the PSV midfielder well- Hutchinson won the ball and moved forward consistently.
- Canada should’ve been ahead after the first 45. Captain Kevin McKenna came agonizingly close to opening the scoring in 37th minute, hitting the post with a header off of an excellent delivery from Will Johnson. Panama’s inability to adequately defend set pieces was glaring.
- Referee Jeffrey Solis had his hands full all night. While it’s become common place to bemoan CONCACAF officiating – it’s still quite terrible – neither side made it easy for Solis. A total of five cautions were given in the first half. A dust up between Dwayne De Rosario and Alberto Quintero late in the half could’ve been devastating for Canada if this game was played in Panama – you know what I mean. Quintero’s histrionics rightfully drew the ire of an excellent crowd at BMO. The chippy play towards the end of the half effectively killed any momentum Canada may have gained from a strong beginning.
- Panama’s first chances of the match came early in the second half. Lax defending compounded by a crater sized hole in the Canadian midfield allowed the Panamanians numerous opportunities – with FC Dallas striker Blas Perez the most threatening amongst them.
- Canada stemmed the tide. After an agonizing 15 minutes, the game began to settle down. Memories of the 0-0 draw against Honduras began reemerge as neither side looked liked they had a goal in them. Panama was content to play for the draw – a strategy fraught with danger.
- In the 76th minute the futility of said strategy was proven once again. A probing run from Jackson down the right flank drew a free kick just inches away from the touchline. The ensuing free kick was taken without hesitation by Hutchinson, who found an unmarked De Rosario in the box. 1-0 Canada. That’s the stuff you cannot teach. While Panama’s defenders slowly jogged into position Hutchinson caught them napping. It was the type of goal jaded Canadian supporters expected to concede.
- 14 minutes away from a disastrous result, Canada comes away with a crucial three points in their quest for the Hex. The contributions of Hutchinson, Jackson and De Rosario were enormous. Was this the biggest game in Canadian Men’s soccer history? Frankly, it doesn’t matter. Each game moving forward becomes the biggest. While this result is fantastic it will mean little if Canada fails to play a quality game in Panama on Tuesday night. There will be time to contemplate that fixture in the days ahead. For Canadian supporters, this is a night to savour.
1. Atiba Hutchinson
2. Simeon Jackson
3. Dwayne De Rosario