Needing only a draw to progress to the next round of World Cup qualifying, Canada were second-best to an energized Honduras team from the very start and what followed was one of the most disheartening losses in Canadian football history—a 8-1 defeat that disgraced the country’s men’s program and will almost certainly cost Stephen Hart his job as manager.
- From the opening whistle Canada appeared dispassionate, ill-prepared and in over their heads and trailed after only six minutes when captain Kevin McKenna failed to deal with a routine cross into the box, allowing Jerry Bengston to pounce on the ball and score his third goal of the campaign. At halftime McKenna told Canadian broadcaster Sportsnet that “right from the get-go we weren’t in the game.” It showed, and the reasons as to why they weren’t will no doubt be the subject of much discussion over the next few days.
- Their opponent might not have been up for it, but take nothing away from Honduras. The hosts lived up to the carnival atmosphere and got meaningful performances from their best players. Estadio Olimpico was in full voice as the home supporters sang Tu bandera es un lampo de cielo, and when the anthems were finished and the first ball was kicked Honduras went about dismantling their guests with impressive vigour.
- Canada’s only real goalscoring chances came early and, not surprisingly, were squandered. Toisant Ricketts should have put the ball in the back of the net after just two minutes following Nik Ledgerwood’s cross from the edge of the box but was let down by dreadful control. And only five minutes after Bengston’s opener Ricketts once again found himself in scoring position after Julian De Guzman’s drive from distance hit the post, but he could only bundle the ball into the grasp of Honduras goalkeeper Donis Escober.
- Lack of finishing, along with inadequate measures of passion, concentration and preparedness, has long been a hallmark of Stephen Hart’s Canada, and on Tuesday you just knew after Bengston got his second in the 17th minute that there would be no way back for the Reds. This, after all, is a side that was kept scoreless in back-to-back games last autumn against Puerto Rico and Saint Kitts and Nevis. They were never going to score twice in San Pedro Sula, especially considering a record in Central America that has seen them win just once since 1996.
- Honduras doubled their lead before the break through Carlos Costly and the brilliant Mario Martinez, who nutmegged Andrew Hainault before sliding the ball past a helpless Lars Hirschfeld, who was so often hung out to dry over the 90 minutes. By the halftime whistle the home support were giddily cheering every Honduran pass as the Canadians scampered about the pitch without an idea in their heads.
- Honduras picked up right where they left off after the restart, with Costly scoring his second of the night from a searching Martinez header that should have been dealt with by the Canadian defense. The hosts then went 13 minutes without a goal until Martinez bagged his second—a delightful, arching, left-footed effort from 22 yards that was easily the most impressive of the home side’s eight goals.
- Simeon Jackson was withdrawn midway through the second half in favour of Lucas Cavallini, who plays his club football in Uruguay. Jackson, it must be said, was once again profoundly disappointing and has now gone more than a year without a goal for Canada—his last three coming against Saint Lucia last October. Perhaps Hart never found a way to use him, but then again the national side has never been much of an attacking threat since Hart’s appointment in 2009.
- Honduras swapped goalkeepers just for chuckles in the 74th minute, and two minutes later Iain Hume produced the only moment of Canadian quality on the night when he curled a free-kick around the wall and just inside the far post from 24 yards. Bengston and Costly completed their hat-tricks to round out the scoring in the final seven minutes.
- Canada was always going to be up against it in San Pedro Sula, what with the injury to all-time leading goalscorer Dwayne De Rosario, Olivier Occean’s suspension and a virus that knocked Ante Jazic out of the match and also infected McKenna. But the performance (if you can call it that) given by the players was nothing short of shameful—a national disgrace—and changes are no doubt required among both the coaching staff and playing roster moving forward. There is no blaming officials or CONCACAF as a whole for what happened on Tuesday.
- This result is an examination of the Canadian Soccer Association’s vision and decisiveness in implementing that vision. If he does not resign of his own accord, the CSA must move to sack Hart at the first opportunity (as in tomorrow) and begin a wide-reaching, creative search for a new manager. Nick Dasovic and Tony Fonseca are good company men, but neither is the answer. Canada’s best choice as manager does not currently work for the CSA. It may take some new thinking for them to realize that. The 2013 Gold Cup will be a good opportunity to test the sort of renewal that must take place in the coming months.
Follow Jerrad Peters on Twitter @peterssoccer