FBL-JPN-CAN-FRIENDLY

It’s hard to imagine a time when there has been less interest in the men’s national team in Canada than today.

It will take a long time for the stain of 8-1 to wear off the Nats and even the most loyal of fans is struggling to get up for games as they go through the motions following the end of the county’s (naive) Brazilian dream.

This is the environment in which interim manager Colin Miller is operating in as he put the final touches on a makeshift and exceptionally untested Gold Cup line-up, which was released yesterday.

Eight of the players named to Canada’s 22-man (there is still time to add one additional player) will be making their Gold Cup debut. Additionally, four of those called-up play for that long-standing provider of Canadian talent, Unattached FC.

The Canadian men’s reigning player of the year, Atiba Hutchinson, and the all-time scoring leader, Dwayne DeRosario, will be watching from home.

Combine that with what is likely the toughest group in tournament (hello Mexico and Panama – along with trickier than many imagine Martinique) and, well, it could get ugly.

The question is, then, does it matter?

Considering that the general level of interest is so low and that this Gold Cup features mostly second choice line-ups and factoring in that we are still two years away from the games that really matter (and three from when CONCACAF qualifying gets tricky for Canada), maybe a weak three matches and out should be expected and accepted for Canada.

It’s defeatist thinking, but one can appreciate how someone might entertain the idea.

Except the truth is Canada cannot afford to embarrass itself again. That 8-1 loss is too fresh and the punch lines cut too close to the bone.

The Canadian national team risks becoming irrelevant to fans if it goes down to the tournament and bombs out. All of the gains that were made over the last four years in terms of home support will be go away. The new fans that came to the program will likely abandon it, their suspicions about this country’s place in world football confirmed. And, besides, this is our confederation championship. That alone should be enough to motivate both players and fans alike.

It will not be easy, but most understand that the challenge is great. In announcing the roster, Miller suggested that a quarterfinal appearance would be an acceptable building block for the program.

He’s right, with one caveat. Regardless of the final standing, one would hope that this group of young Canadians will win or lose with a bit of pride.

Pride was something that was desperately needed in Honduras and Panama when the heat, fans and pressure caused players that were supposed to represent this country’s best chance at a World Cup birth in a generation to wilt.

So, maybe it isn’t such a bad thing that so few of that crew is part of this Gold Cup roster. It’s a fresh start and it can’t possibly be worse than if was the last time they played a meaningful game.

Comments (5)

  1. Sorry, I think I realize that Canada’s latest generation is done. The next generation is far from even being able to demonstrate they have what it takes. While it would be great if they did well, I think it would be stupid for people to expect them to do well. ‘Relevance’ would be showcasing some potential talent but I think most supporters know how bad Canada is, and they came back after the last Gold Cup. More useful attention would be given to the young players, future potential and stop giving the last generation a ‘last chance’. If we cannot move on as supporters then of course the team will be irrelevant.

  2. I thought this tourney was going to be Lucas Cavallini’s breakout for the senior squad…but he turned down the invite…awesome.

  3. Honest assessment of this squad and this program. Hopefully they can score a few goals, and play some lively soccer; I don’t think they can do worse than our previous GoldCup performance.

  4. If you think the CMNT is more irrelevant than it has ever been, you have an incredibly short memory. If you think that Canada should sacrifice giving young players international experience in favor of letting some old players, that have proven to be not good enough, another chance, then you are also impatient.

    I’ll be watching this Gold Cup with great interest, hoping to seem some positive signs from some young talent. I really hope that includes some goals, which haven’t been scored at all for Miller as coach this year in his 3 previous games if I recall correctly.

  5. Don’t know what to expect from this tourney nor what to read into any results. All I can tell from the current pool of players at our disposal and the tactics of Fonseca/Miller is that we lack the ability to score from open play. Our best result this year was a bus parking tie vs the US in Houston and apart from some set piece threat we have looked pretty much offensively challenged. We have too many players who specialize in peripheral passing.

    On the bright side, Will Johnson is currently on the top of his game and should really be allowed to skipper this side ahead of Julian de Guzman. Osorio has been more than a pleasant surprise at TFC this year, especially with his recent string of starts and performances. Tiebert has also been coming into his own with the Caps. These guys need to be featured.

    Too bad Cavalini declined. However, he’s cap-tied so we won’t have to worry about him playing for a regional rival (unless Fifa decides to loosen the rules).

    The only thing I’m curious about is who will be the whipping boy (or boys) du jour for this tourney when things fall flat. Last time round it was Dunfield (following in the steps of Nash and Hastings), so this time I think I’ll go with Ledgerwood as the favourite scapegoat.

    Also, if you want to generate a modicum of interest in the MNT, how about putting the matches on one of the Sportsnet main channels (even tape delayed) or Sportsnet One and not having people shell out significant extra $ for Sportsnet World? Stupid move.

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