Archive for the ‘Honduras’ Category


Yea. That’s pretty good. Juan Garcia’s ridiculous bicycle kick has leveled proceedings in San Pedro Sula. Clint Dempsey scored for the Americans. 1-1 at halftime.

Gif via BuzzFeed

 

James and KJ delve into Canada’s 8-1 loss in Honduras as the World Cup dream dies yet again for the Canucks.

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It lasted 131 days. It began with great joy on a hot afternoon in Cuba and ended in utter disgrace on a hot afternoon in Honduras.

What happened in between was unprecedented in Canada. More and more people began to care what the national team was doing. Three home games in Toronto built momentum and each attracted between 16,000 and 18,000 fans with the majority, unusually, supporting the men in red.

After all, 2012 has been a year of great celebration – led by the women’s team winning bronze in London and of course the centennial celebrations highlighted by a friendly against USA in June. When the dust settles, what cannot be forgotten is Canada’s qualifying campaign, despite the humiliating 8-1 loss to Honduras at the final hurdle.

History will be a lot kinder to this men’s team than what today and tomorrow will bring. You see, they’ve been around a while, rolled with the punches and failed before when far less people cared. The problem they have right now is the spotlight is bigger than ever on them and on the biggest of stages they reached a new low for even the most loyal long-serving Canadian soccer fan (who have been through a lot with this team).

That being said, falling flat on one’s face at the sixth hurdle after getting through five is an achievement for this bunch of players. It was called the team’s biggest game in a decade for a reason, they’d simply achieved something they had not got close to in the past three World Cup qualifying campaigns and that should not be forgotten. Losing 8-1 to Honduras was pathetic but going into the final match in the group with qualification in their own hands is something this side should not simply be expected to do. They are not good enough. Yet expectations were higher than ever for some reason.

Perhaps, it was the ten points they’d achieved in the five games up to this, the four clean sheets along the way and the defensive solidity as a team that they’d shown. However, beneath the layer of such evidence lay massive cracks in their armour. An inability to score goals (5 in 5 games) and convert chances that weren’t laid on a plate for a player. A lack of width that could stretch good teams not called Cuba. And most importantly a constant problem taking over games and controlling them away from home. Against Panama they were accused of ‘not showing up’ and showing a ‘lack of heart’, yet to throw such charges their way must mean there has been evidence in the past of the contrary, away from home against technically better Concacaf sides.

The same allegations have been said by the media once again following the 8-1 thrashing.

It is easy to jump on players for the lack of urgency, heart or desire when they are down 4-0 after 32 minutes and equally easy to destroy their coach. However, it was not Stephen Hart on the pitch for the first 32 minutes when the team collectively defended poorly on all four goals. It was not Stephen Hart who failed to put away a great scoring chance in the box after 71 seconds when the score was 0-0. Yet it was Stephen Hart who offered this comment immediately following the match.

“I don’t want to blame the players. It was my responsibility.”

Hart must take some responsibility for this loss, of course, but to castigate him after this not only takes away what he did with an average bunch of players to get here but also allows the players off the hook. Ultimately, eleven players went out on that field in Honduras and didn’t perform. Football coaches get too much praise when their team succeeds and too much blame when their team fails. Hart may ultimately be sacrificed and needs to be asked about certain personnel and tactical decisions but he is not the reason Canada’s 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign ended today.

If they’d been drawn away to Honduras earlier in the campaign it would have been over before now. Be thankful, Canada, for three meaningful home games at this stage and for the small signs of progress this team has shown up to now. October 16th, 2012 will go down as a painful day in the history of this side but until a long-term plan is put in place for player development, get used to watching this side struggle away from home against teams like Honduras and Panama. Get used to being outplayed by the likes of Mario Martinez, Arnold Peralta, Emilio Izaguirre, Armando Cooper and Amilcar Henriquez. Technical, skillful young players Canada can only dream of producing.

It’s okay to be disappointed, even despondent, at an 8-1 crushing, but at least now people have a better idea of the talent pool available to Canada compared to teams they must bypass to reach the promise land.

Kristian Jack

Honduras 8-1 Canada

Game in a sentence

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.

 

Observations

  • 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.

Three Stars

Mario Martinez

Gerry Bengston

Oscar Garcia

 

Follow Jerrad Peters on Twitter @peterssoccer

Mid afternoon survey of the soccer news.

There are several international games today, and some of them have major consequences. It’s hard for me to ignore the one that will determine my mood for the next 24 months, so I will start there.

Canada.

As there is little else left to say, the blogs up right now have a last rites feel to them. Daniel Squizzato nails the zeitgeist:

Our role, right now, is not to pretend that we can predict what is going to happen down in San Pedro Sula. No matter what anyone says or does, there are three possible outcomes to this game, any of which could realistically take place.

Our role is to hold our breath, bite our nails and stare at a screen for 90 minutes of the most excruciating sporting event most of us have ever witnessed.

And then, when it’s all over, to come back to this site, to the other CanSoc sites, to the online discussions, to the pub discussions, and to bandy around our answers to the question “Can you believe that happened?”

This day is all we would have wanted, and all that we would have feared.

The only positive I can see out of a loss other than that crushing feeling of familiarity is the fact that a) Jonathan De Guzman will never play for Canada and b) all eyes will focus on reforming the national program. The former is a dead certainty; the latter is a pipe dream, but there are plans afoot at the CSA to cement recent progress over the long term, so stay tuned.

On that whole annoying De Guzman drama, Ben Massey should have the final word:

Maybe you want to do whatever it takes to win. But if you have no loyalty to the players or to the integrity of the colours, then why the hell are you cheering for Canada in the first place? If all you want is the thrill of victory no matter what the cost then go cheer for Spain because you’re missing the point completely. Jonathan de Guzman refused to be Canadian when times were tough and we needed him most. If he wants to wear the Maple Leaf now that we may return to our rightful place in the soccer world then he can fuck right off.

In other stuff, Zbigniew Boniek claims his grandson moves better than Andy Carroll, which considering the pedigree isn’t as wild and crazy as some are making it out to be.

And Joey Barton finally decided to be Joey Barton over at Marseille. Something involving tackling like a maniac.

In club news, Jim Edwards claims Don Garber wants to “kill” the New York Red Bulls, which may be a slight exaggeration.

And did I mention Canada has to win or draw to get through to the Hex in less than two hours?

Yes, you’ve seen this video of the moment when Canada sealed its berth in the 1986 World Cup by beating Honduras. This however is the first time I’ve seen this video with dejected, Honduran commentary.

It’s music. Sweet, sweet music.

Honduras bowed out of the 2012 Olympic football tournament, Saturday, after losing 3-2 to Brazil at St. James’ Park. The matter of their defeat earned them no shortage of admirers, however—such was their commitment to the cause that even after being reduced to 10 men in the 33rd minute they quite nearly caused an upset. Mario Martinez, on loan at Seattle Sounders, and Sporting Kansas City’s Roger Espinoza were especially impressive, and the Newcastle crowd seemed to appreciate Espinoza, in particular.

Thankfully, we’ll get several chances over the next few years to see Honduras thrill on the international stage. Honduran football is experiencing a competitive cycle that began in the quadrennial ahead of the last World Cup and should last until after the current one. Many of the players who competed in the U-23 side at these Olympics are also full internationals, which means the group of them will continue to mature together ahead of next summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup and the World Cup in Brazil the year after that.

It was the 2009 FIFA Youth Championship that signalled the arrival of this generation of Honduran footballers. After coming third at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship the previous March Honduras opened their campaign in Egypt with a 3-0 win over Honduras (in which Martinez scored twice) before going out at the group stage. Several of the players who just participated in the Olympics were involved in that squad, and their contributions in the senior side will have a lot to do with whether Honduras can, for the first time, qualify for successive World Cups. Read the rest of this entry »