FBL-CONCACAF GOLD CUP-CANADA-MARTINIQUE

During the earlier, happier portion of my weekend, I reacquainted myself (yet again) with Wolfgang Petersen’s 1981 German war epic, Das Boot. And, as ever, one particular scene still evoked the same, familiar frisson: after working his crew for 16 hours to repair their U-Boat against all odds, the ship’s captain, exhausted but euphoric from the news his ship has been patched up, declares: “You have to have good men. Good men, all of them.”

The same obviously applies to football teams. And this is the reason, ultimately, that I’m not going to go into a tailspin of anguished self-disgust over Canada’s 1-0 loss to Martinique, a game in which the non-nation nation of 400,000 could have and perhaps should have won 3 or 4 nil.

For one, it came in the Gold Cup. For two, the team is under the guidance of an interim head coach.

But most importantly, it’s important to put this loss in a wider context. Martinique after all holds a special place in recent Canadian soccer history: in 2008 the mens national team took a boat there to play a friendly there that was literally beyond the reach of media (save for Martinique’s local radio station) and statistical monitoring (details were only posted after the game). Dwayne De Rosario scored the winning and only goal.

That friendly is a reminder that the utterly lack-lustre, awful team that lost in extra time yesterday was not conjured up by a call-up, but in decisions or lack thereof made or not made by the Canadian Soccer Association in the years it was run by the provincial associations, who, naturally, cared more about the interests of their soccer associations than the national team. Political energy that could and should have gone into modernizing the Canadian national program to compete with the ascendant United States was instead diverted to petty squabbling over the location of the next meeting and the recipient of the next historical recognition.

And so in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, the Canadian Soccer Association didn’t do the difficult but necessary work of nurturing young talent, providing them with a solid foundational platform, and making a reasoned, visionary case to both government and private interests in the geopolitical and cultural importance of investing in Canadian soccer. It didn’t work to build a professional foundation on the grass-roots leagues in the provinces to give younger players a chance to play together before leaving for brighter pastures. It didn’t establish a national development pathway for young players, or national standards in coaching education to prevent “angry dad” effect on youth soccer pitches throughout the country. It didn’t live up to the standards set by its forebears over a century ago.

It didn’t do it then, but it’s doing some of these things now. I grant you, it has waited far, far too long. But, as Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon yesterday, the first British man to win the trophy in 77 years, better late than never. So don’t judge the state of the national team based on a single humiliating loss to Martinique. Judge it on the work it is doing today, across the country, to help ensure those just born or to be born will have something very real to hope for in playing the Beautiful Game in their home and native land. That work will not come to fruition without your help.

Comments (17)

  1. *yawn* Didn’t Arsenal try to buy Luis Suarez or something this weekend? Isn’t PSG talking publicly about signing Cavani? Didn’t TFC sign Forlan? This is incredibly boring – anybody with a glancing interest in football in Canada realized long ago Canada is not on any sort of path to relevancy and this did not come as a shock. There’s no need to analyze it, nor any need to continue it after they lose their next game to [insert irrelevant footballing island-nation here] in a few days.

    • and this is the type of attitude that has lead to this place. Who cares right?

      Talk about it and fix it.

      but I agree there was a lot of worthy news this weekend.

      • Or don’t talk about it and don’t fix it. DL’s point is that he doesn’t care about Canadian foot ball; he doesn’t want us to get better because he doesn’t care about international football. I’m right there with him.

        That Arsenal bid for Suarez made me confused. Just sign Higuain already!

      • The people who can fix it don’t appear to care, so why should I?

        All for growing the game here, but I don’t expect the Canadians to actually achieve anything whatsoever in my lifetime.

        • I see. Don’t get too bothered by the result. If you expect nothing, you won’t get disappointed. I agree with this.

          No one should be watching the Gold Cup anyway. CONCACAF quality is piss poor at the best of times; this is an exhibition tournament within it. Arsenal reserves vs. Indonesia would be more exciting/relevant, and you shouldn’t watch that either.

          • You shouldn’t watch anything Arsenal ;)

          • Why not go to the dozens of Arsenal pages to get what you want to read about? There are tons of places that will write on the EPL and European football.

            I do appreciate that Canada is far from an important country for soccer but ignoring the sport is not going to make it any better. And I don’t particularly care for the narratives produced by the EPL – “We have American/Russian/Middle East owners and can buy the best team!!! (some bullshit about the hundred year history and generational supporters who cannot afford to see more than one game live in a year)” – and the quality is not the best in the world anyways. If you want entertaining matches we should all be watching the Bundesliga – by your own argument – but I’m sure that sounds stupid to you. Just as its stupid to complain about not getting enough Euro-football news on a Canadian blog that has a post about Canadian soccer.

    • I understand that you, and folks like Truegooner, don’t care about this kind of stuff. It’s your prerogative and right now Canadian soccer isn’t good. There are, however, a lot of people who care about the state of Canadian soccer and want to read about it… And as much as you think it’s a waste of time, that’s just your opinion.. I’m not really sure why you think this blog should cater to your personal taste exclusively. Skip the posts that don’t interest you or head over to ESPN where you can get all the mainstream journalism you want.

      • ^ Exactly.

        Plenty of places where you can go and get news on Arsenal, not too many outlets that cover Canadian Soccer.

        • Well said Matt Hawkins, Canadian Fan, and alex. We could extend the “Canadian soccer isn’t important” theory even further to say that you should only watch the World Cup championship match. That’s the one with the most viewers. Or maybe the EPL, Bundesliga, etc should all be thrown out the window and everything watched and spoken about should be the NFL!

          There are precious few places where fans of Canadian soccer can go to read about the Canadian game, and as a result I appreciate this site doing so. A foundation is being laid down in Canada and that is exciting to me. Hopefully it’s a solid foundation and the results will follow in the medium to long term.

  2. but what of the globe’s Forman to TFC rumours!? are they true?….. and fantastic post as always Bigwords.

  3. The winning goal was in “stoppage time,” not “extra time.”

    I understand your whole argument about the failure of the CSA/Provincial Association development model. In the immediate, we have a real dearth of international talent in the 23 to 28 age grouping and that’s what really kills us.

    It’s funny (sad?) how a guy who was completely written off by many supporters as a no hoper following the disastrous 2007 WYC in Canada, CB Marcus Haber, is our starting striker here.

    • It is a bit disappointing that we try to formulate a team around the target striker model when it clearly hasn’t worked for the team in years. Its disappointing that Jackson -when he was on form for Norwich- was still being played out wide on the national team in favour of strikers who were not playing well and haven’t worked out for Canada. Haber is a young guy, which is good, but his strike rate means that he should not be the sole attacking outlet and to continue to play the constrained structure of the last team that always had trouble getting to the net is just dumb. A traditional 4-4-2 would have given a lot more of attacking options for Canada, while not being attractive would have been less complex and have more redundancy for attacking options. Playing de Guzman and Johnson in the middle in the match where Canada had to score to go forward was too much and seeing Ricketts ahead of players like Osorio is frustrating. I think most people knew Canada was going to fail but to see the lineup setup to be conservative against the possibility of failing is most disappointing.

      • I was hoping for REB and Cavallini before the roster was announced. Then Cavallini was out and I was hoping for REB and Jackson. Then REB was hurt so I was hoping for Haber and Jackson. Then they put out useless Ricketts instead of Jackson, and now REB and Jackson have both left the tournament. Now it’s incredibly likely that Canada doesn’t score a goal this tournament. Ugh.

  4. So, does this make it Cup D’Oro over-o? I would think so. the scenarios make it look like we need to win the next two….against mexico and panama……yeah. bring on the large soprano singer. (but there is hope…)

  5. I think John Molinaro nailed it in his article and in his interview on the fan.

    You can’t get to a result like this without multiple things going wrong.

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