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post #1 of 39 (permalink) Old June 8th, 2012, 22:02 Thread Starter
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Canada 2012 3rd Round WC Qualifiers (R)

Canada gets three on the road in Cuba
FIFA World Cup 8 June 2012

Canada collected three points on the opening day of the CONCACAF 3rd Round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Qualifiers. Canada won 1:0 away over Cuba at the Estadio Pedro Marrero in La Habana, Cuba, holding on for the win despite being reduced to 10 men midway through the second half.

"People have to appreciate how very difficult it was in these conditions," said Canadian head coach Stephen Hart. "The players endured and overcame the incredible heat and pitch conditions on which we struggled to adapt."

Kick off for the 8 June 2012 match was 14.00 local, with the sun out in full force for nearly the entire match. For the big win on the road, Canada had the support of a large traveling contingent that filled the stands and rooted for Canada at every touch.

Olivier Occean scored the lone goal with an assist from David Edgar. Will Johnson was selected Canada's player of the match.

From the goal out, Canada's current squad features goalkeepers Milan Borjan, Lars Hirschfeld and Kenny Stamatopoulos, defenders David Edgar, André Hainault, Dejan Jaković, Ante Jazić, Mike Klukowski, Nik Ledgerwood, Kevin McKenna, and Ashtone Morgan, and midfielders/forwards Julian de Guzman, Dwayne De Rosario, Iain Hume, Atiba Hutchinson, Simeon Jackson, Will Johnson, Issey Nakajima-Farran, Olivier Occean, Pedro Pacheco, Samuel Piette and Tosaint Ricketts.

Next up for Canada is a match against Honduras at home on 12 June in Toronto (19.30 local). Future matches will be played in September and October. Tickets to Canada's 2012 home matches are available via ticketmaster.ca or by phone at 1.855.570.7500, with full information available on CanadaSoccer.com. Group discounts are available via [email protected] or 613.237.7678.

For full coverage of Canada's road to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, fans can follow all the news at CanadaSoccer.com. Fans are also encouraged to connect with Canada's national teams via twitter.com/CanadaSoccerEN, facebook.com/CanadaSoccer, flickr.com/canadasoccer, and youtube.com/CanadaSoccerTV. The Tuesday 12 June match will be broadcast live on Sportsnet One.
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post #2 of 39 (permalink) Old June 9th, 2012, 03:03
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Not the prettiest of games, and difficult conditions, but we've managed to grab the 3 points which is the most important thing. It was a huge relief for me, especially since we haven't managed to win in a long time in this phase of qualifying.

I'm catching bits and pieces from the Honduras vs. Panama match, and it seems to be a much faster pace (currently 0-0). However, I hope decent weather conditions and a good field at BMO Field will give Canada the chance to manage a good performance. A win against Honduras would be immense and a huge step forward.

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post #3 of 39 (permalink) Old June 9th, 2012, 03:30 Thread Starter
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Match Report: Canada earns hard-fought 1:0 win over Cuba in Havana
FIFA World Cup 8 June 2012

Canada stole three points from hostile terrain by defeating Cuba 1:0 at Estadio Pedro Marrero in Havana, Cuba to open play in CONCACAF 3rd Round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Qualifiers.

Olivier Occean scored the winner for Canada in the 54th minute after he latched onto a cross from David Edgar and buried a header to the top right corner from 10 yards out.

Canada survived the final half-hour despite going down to 10 men following Lars Hirschfeld being sent off, after he was judged to have handled the ball outside of the 18-yard-box as Cuba were breaking forward.

The 8 June 2012 win marks Canada’s first victory in CONCACAF 3rd Round since a successful trip to Guatemala in 2004. It also marks the first time that Canada has opened with a victory in CONCACAF 3rd Round since 1996.

Dwayne De Rosario had the first genuine chance of the match with a well-hit low effort from the left in the 23rd minute, but his effort was parried away by Cuban goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper.

Cuba went close next with a shot from the top of the 18-yard-box, but Canadian goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld made a diving save to tip it around the bar.

De Rosario then hit the bar with an effort from close range on the final play of the first half.

After exchanging chances early in the second half, it was Canada who eventually found the breakthrough in the 54th minute.

Some strong build-up play by the Canadians led to David Edgar receiving the ball in an advanced position on the right flank. Edgar cut inside and drifted a cross into the box with the outside of his right foot. Olivier Occean was on the spot for Canada to power home the header and give his team the 1-0 lead.

Only minutes later, however, Hirschfeld received a red card after he raced out to the edge of the area and was judged to have handled the ball just outside of the box. Hirschfeld was sent off because the Cuban player was deemed to have been clear through on goal – had the Canadian goalkeeper not handled illegally.

Despite being down a man, Canada limited genuine chances for the Cubans and never looked in clear danger of surrendering an equalizer.

De Rosario nearly sealed off the victory with a second goal, but his shot from close range was deflected over the bar in the 88th minute.

Canada would hang on from there to claim a hard-fought away victory of open CONCACAF 3rd Round of its 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifying campaign.

Canada started the match with Lars Hirschfeld in goal and a back-line of David Edgar, André Hainault, Kevin McKenna and Ante Jazic from right-to-left. The rest of the team from midfield to attack featured Juian de Guzman, Will Johnson, Nik Ledgerwood, Tosaint Ricketts, Dwayne De Rosario and Olivier Occean.

In the second half, head coach Stephen Hart was forced to replace Ricketts with Milan Borjan (65’), who replaced the ejected Hirschfeld. Hart also replaced de Guzman with Atiba Hutchinson (68’) and Occean with Simeon Jackson (81’).

Cuba's starting XI featured Odisnel Cooper in goal, Aliñáis Urgellés at right back, Yenier Márquez and Reysander Fernández at centre back, Yoel Colomé at left back, Carlos Francisco as a defensive midfielder, Ariel Martínez, Marcel Hernández and Alberto Gómez from right to left at midfield, Alaín Cervantes in front of the midfield, and Dalaín Aira at the top.

In the second half, coach Alexander Gonzáles Garces replaced Gómez with Adonis Ramos (75'), Aira with Roberto Linares (79') and Urgellés with Jorge Luis Corrales (81').

Along with the Hirschfeld ejection, Canadians Jazic and Johnson were both cautioned.

For Occean, it was his fourth goal of this FIFA World Cup Qualifiers cycle. He now has six career goals at the international “A” level. Midfielder Johnson, meanwhile, was selected Canada’s player of the match.
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post #4 of 39 (permalink) Old June 9th, 2012, 03:40
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Yeah, awful pitch and the weather was excruciatingly hot as well. Great job by the boys to get the late goal. Nice finish to get up and put it away by Olivier.

Huge game on Tuesday, I'm still not sure if I am going to get downtown in time for kick off. I have a late meeting at work, but will still go even if I get there by half-time.

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Oh lampião, levaste 5 no Dragão, nunca te esquecerás desta grande humilhação!

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post #5 of 39 (permalink) Old June 12th, 2012, 11:40 Thread Starter
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Canada set for qualifiers clash with Honduras at BMO Field
FIFA World Cup 11 June 2012

After picking up three points in its opening match in CONCACAF Round 3 of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Qualifiers, Canada host rival Honduras in a much-anticipated clash in Toronto. The Tuesday 12 June 2012 match kicks off at 19.45 at BMO Field.

The Canada-Honduras match will be broadcast live on Sportsnet One. The broadcast starts at 19.30 ET / 16.30 PT, approximately 15 minutes before kick-off time in Canada. Tickets to this match and future FIFA World Cup Qualifiers are available via ticketmaster.ca or by phone at 1.855.570.7500, with full information available on CanadaSoccer.com. Group discounts are available via [email protected] or 613.237.7678.

While Canada will be entering the second match-day of qualifying action in Group C riding a wave of confidence after a hard-fought 1:0 road win in Cuba, Honduras will arrive into Toronto eager for points after losing its opening match of the round 0:2 at home to Panama.

The match on Tuesday presents a critical opportunity for Canada to put up to six points between themselves and the Hondurans, which would put Stephen Hart’s side in good stead ahead of the remaining qualifiers of the round in the fall of 2012. Canadian head coach Hart, however, knows that familiar foes Honduras will present a difficult challenge.

“Honduras have good quality and lot of experience, there is no doubt about that," said Hart. "They will be difficult on Tuesday."

From the three groups of four teams in the 2012 CONCACAF 3rd Round for 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Qualifiers, the top-two teams from each group will advance to the 2013 CONCACAF Final Round. All CONCACAF 3rd Round matches are played in June (8 and 12), September (7 and 11) and October (12 and 16). Canada faces Panama in Toronto on 7 September.
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post #6 of 39 (permalink) Old June 12th, 2012, 14:25
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Alright, re-arranged my afternoon meetings so I can leave on time, and convinced 4 of my friends to come as well.

For anybody else interested:

- $20 tickets.
- Pick up at Maro's where the pre-game party is going on.
- Sit in the Voyageurs section.
- March to BMO after a few drinks together!

http://www.cansoc.org/

A VENCER DESDE 1893

Oh lampião, levaste 5 no Dragão, nunca te esquecerás desta grande humilhação!

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post #7 of 39 (permalink) Old June 12th, 2012, 17:57
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I'm living in Ottawa and I can't make it to BMO Field tonight but I'll probably be there for the next home match against Panama on September 7.

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post #8 of 39 (permalink) Old June 13th, 2012, 15:59 Thread Starter
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Match report: Canada 0:0 Honduras
FIFA World Cup 12 June 2012

Canada maintained their unbeaten start to the third round of 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Qualifiers with a 0:0 draw with Honduras in front of 16,132 fans at BMO Field in Toronto.

The result moves Canada to four points after two games played in the round thus far. Canada’s next game is also at home against Panama on September 7th.

Canada controlled the game for much of the first half. Dwayne De Rosario found himself in space more than 30 yards away from the Honduran goal 18 minutes into the game. With few other options, De Rosario decided to have a crack at goal. His shot managed to sting the hands of Honduran goalkeeper Noel Valladares who couldn’t hold it.

Unfortunately for Canada, there were no Canadian players who followed the play in and Valladares recovered and claimed the ball.

After getting only the faintest of sights at goal for most of the half, Honduras nearly got in front with just five minutes left in the half. Oscar Garcia fed a low cross from the right side in the Canadian box. Antony Lozano was in space right in front of the Canadian goal but he scuffed his shot wide.

Canada got the better chances of the two teams as play resumed in the second half but once again couldn’t bury their chances.

In the 67th minute, De Rosario put in a cross from the right side towards Olivier Occean in the Honduran box. It would have been right on the big striker’s head but it was cleared by Maynor Figueroa at the last second for a corner.

The first corner was put out for another and on that second corner, Will Johnson found David Edgar but his header went heartbreakingly wide of the right post.

Canada started the game with Milan Borjan in goal, David Edgar at right back, Kevin McKenna and Andre Hainault at centre back, Ante Jazic at left back and Julian de Guzman, Will Johnson, Nik Ledgerwood, Tosaint Ricketts, Dwayne De Rosario and Olivier Occean from midfield through the attack.

In the second half, Canadian head coach Stephen Hart replaced Ledgerwood with Tosaint Ricketts (71’), Occean with Iain Hume (84’) and Atiba Hutchinson with Simeon Jackson (88’).

Honduras went with a starting XI with Noel Valladares in goal, Mauricia Sabillon at right back, Victor Bernardez and Maynor Figueroa at centre back, and Juan Garcia at left back with Oscar Garcia, Roger Espinoza, Emilio Izaguirre, Wilson Palacios, Carlo Costly and Antony Lozano from midfield through the attack.

In the second half, Honduran head coach Luis Fernando Suarez replaced Lozano with David Suazo (73’)
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post #9 of 39 (permalink) Old June 14th, 2012, 01:15
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Too bad you couldn't take your chances. Canada seem to be doing better, anyhow.

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post #10 of 39 (permalink) Old June 14th, 2012, 02:33
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How does this team not win against these guys..
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post #11 of 39 (permalink) Old June 14th, 2012, 04:38
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How does this team not win against these guys..
Do you understand that Honduras is a favourite over Canada?

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Oh lampião, levaste 5 no Dragão, nunca te esquecerás desta grande humilhação!

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post #12 of 39 (permalink) Old June 14th, 2012, 13:54
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Do you understand that Honduras is a favourite over Canada?
Canada has more money, more "foriegn players" playing abroad, and the MLS/CSL/OSL is probably better than the Honduras Primier League. I see no excuses to draw such a nation, obviously I thought Canada was better than they are..
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post #13 of 39 (permalink) Old June 14th, 2012, 16:22 Thread Starter
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I doubt if the Canadian Soccer Association is able to devote more resources "more money" to its senior men's team than Honduras.

Part of that reason is people with Toronto as a location support obscure teams like Romania and Dinamo Buc instead of the CMNT and local teams. If these people did get behind the Nats and contribute to the coffers by attending NT games and buying merchandise, perhaps the CSA could devote more resources "more money" Until then...
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post #14 of 39 (permalink) Old June 14th, 2012, 17:00
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I doubt if the Canadian Soccer Association is able to devote more resources "more money" to its senior men's team than Honduras.

Part of that reason is people with Toronto as a location support obscure teams like Romania and Dinamo Buc instead of the CMNT and local teams. If these people did get behind the Nats and contribute to the coffers by attending NT games and buying merchandise, perhaps the CSA could devote more resources "more money" Until then...
Is it "okay" for people to just support... both? :eekani:

I love my FC Porto and Portugal, but I'm a TFC season ticket holder and go to almost every Canada game I can get to. I drag my friends alot, we go to the Voyageurs pre and post-game parties, singing and chanting the boys on.

I don't think it's as cut and dry as that. You of all people, as you've posted fantastic articles over the years, know there are deep rooted problems within the CSA that extend much further than just the supporters.

A VENCER DESDE 1893

Oh lampião, levaste 5 no Dragão, nunca te esquecerás desta grande humilhação!

16:01 kat
*little pillows wrestling is another thing Josh does, when he is drunk *
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post #15 of 39 (permalink) Old June 14th, 2012, 17:33 Thread Starter
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Is it "okay" for people to just support... both?

I don't think it's as cut and dry as that. You of all people, as you've posted fantastic articles over the years, know there are deep rooted problems within the CSA that extend much further than just the supporters.
Of course it is (support both), but to me it is galling when people bitch about the team and in their information show reference to anything else with no mention of a Canadian side. You can at least do that much (balance it out) if you're going to show support for something.

It was like JDG2 shoving the ol knife in yet again while wearing a Canadian kit. Classless.

And I don't really want to get on my soapbox but I'm tired of hearing about the supposed CSA failures advertising games in the Toronto area. The hardcore supporters know, the Honduran fans know and yet there are still what 5000 empty seats in a area of 5 million people. This after a high profile game against the Americans which drew about the same and having heard people say it's only a friendly and we'll sell out when the real games begin. Well the real games have begun and Toronto hasn't done it yet again. Yeah, the hardcore support is great but the casual fan is non existent (and not adding extra revenues)

Time to start spreading the games around and growing the game.
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post #16 of 39 (permalink) Old June 14th, 2012, 18:34 Thread Starter
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It was like JDG2 shoving the ol knife in yet again while wearing a Canadian kit. Classless.
And now the rumour is going around that he is bluffing. Secret weapon against Panama?
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post #17 of 39 (permalink) Old September 6th, 2012, 03:13 Thread Starter
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De Jong glad to be back for Canada
John Molinaro September 5, 2012

TORONTO -- The smile was the first thing you noticed.

It wasn’t a smirk, or a wry grin. It was a beaming, toothy, ear-to-ear smile, born out of a genuine love of being reunited with his Canadian teammates on home soil.

All through Wednesday afternoon’s training session -- even as the Canadian national team was put through its rigorous paces by coach Stephen Hart at BMO Field -- that infectious smile never disappeared.

And why shouldn’t Marcel de Jong smile? He’s happy, healthy and he figures to be a key player for Canada in its upcoming World Cup qualifying matches, starting with Friday’s contest in Toronto against Panama.

But it wasn’t too long ago that the 25-year-old left fullback, who plays for FC Augsburg in the Bundesliga, didn’t have much to smile about.

A semi-regular starter with one goal in 18 appearances since making his debut for Canada in 2007, de Jong suffered an ankle injury in February (this after previously dealing with a series of nagging injuries over the previous 12 months) that ruled him out for the remainder of the German league season.

The broken ankle forced him to sit out Canada’s two World Cup qualifying games (against Cuba and Honduras) and its centennial match against the United States in June. In his absence, veteran defender Ante Jazic played at left back, helping Canada earn three consecutive shutouts.

Jazic looked solid playing in de Jong’s absence, and has made a strong case to remain in the starting line-up. But now that de Jong is fully fit after undergoing surgery and having returned to play for Augsburg, he’s anxious to win his place back.

“The ankle feels good. I have no problems anymore and the operation went really well and I’ve had no setbacks. I feel fit and I have no complaints,” de Jong told sportsnet.ca.

“It’s great to see the boys again. It’s nice (to be back) but I’m here to play and to help the team qualify for the World Cup. That’s the most important thing.”

De Jong appeared as a second-half substitute in Canada’s 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago in a friendly last month. It was his first game for the national team since last June’s CONCACAF Gold Cup. His prolonged absence meant he hasn’t featured in any of Canada’s World Cup qualifying matches for this cycle, and winning his spot in the lineup may not be so easy.

But the native of Newmarket, Ont., who previously played for Dutch clubs Helmond Sport and Roda JC before moving to Germany in 2010, isn’t too concerned. If he’s going to be used as a substitute for the time being, he’s perfectly fine with that.

“I don’t have any problems about that because I’ve been a regular with the national team over the past few years. I know I’ve been out for a while, but I think I have a lot to offer this team, so I’m not worried,” de Jong said.

It’ll be interesting to see how Hart uses de Jong, if at all, for Friday’s game, and the return match next Tuesday in Panama.

The Canadian coach might not want to tinker with a back line that has recorded three consecutive shutouts. But if Hart does field an unchanged defence, that doesn’t necessarily mean de Jong will sit on the bench. With left midfielder Josh Simpson still out with a long-term injury, Hart could slot de Jong in at that spot.

“We lost Josh Simpson (but) Marcel can play further forward or (in the) back, anywhere on the left side. That’s gives us a lot of options that we didn’t have in the last set of games in June,” Hart stated.

Deployed as a left fullback by Augsburg, de Jong has played on the left side of midfield before for Canada, and has excelled there by giving the attack more width with his dangerous runs down the flank.

“It’s my most comfortable position (left fullback). I like having the entire pitch in front of me. (But) if Stephen needs me in the midfield, I’ll go there and do my thing. I have no problems with that,” de Jong said.

A regular start for Augsburg, de Jong is keen to duplicate his club form for his country. He also realizes the importance of taking three points from Friday’s contest.

Canada currently sits second in its qualifying group with four points, two behind first place Panama and three ahead of Honduras with four games to go. Only the top two nations move on to the final round of the CONCACAF qualifiers, and with tricky trips ahead to Panama (next week) and Honduras (in October), Canada can’t afford to drop points at home.

“We have to win our home games. We have two more home games, so that’s six points,” de Jong stated.

Scoring has been a bit of a problem for Canada, as it has just one goal in its qualifying matches this round. The Canadian team created chances against Honduras back in June, but failed to convert any of them and were far too wasteful in front of goal, and settled for a 0-0 draw.

What does Canada have to do to rectify the problem? De Jong suggests greater patience is required, allied to a strategic plan to hit out against opponents on the counter-attack.

“We have to be patient. ... At the right times we have to push up and do things, and make the plays we know we can do. But we have to be patient. That’s the big thing,” de Jong offered.
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post #18 of 39 (permalink) Old September 6th, 2012, 03:15 Thread Starter
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Canada's Hutchinson back in fine form
John Molinaro September 5, 2012

TORONTO -- It was a goal that capped off a 5-1 win, so it was hardly crucial in terms of the final result.

But the way he took his chance -- confidently striding into the box, undressing the defender with a slick move and then cooly firing a low shot into the far corner past the reach of the goalkeeper -- was a clear sign that Atiba Hutchinson is back to his old self.

That’s very good news for Canada, as it needs the veteran midfielder to continue his top form when it hosts Panama on Friday in a crucial World Cup qualifier.

Hutchinson, a 29-year-old native of Brampton, Ont., is generally regarded as Canada’s best player, but the central midfielder has been dogged by persistent injuries and had no less than three knee operations in the past two years. The lingering knee problem has meant he’s missed a number of games for both his club, Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven, and Canada.

After a summer spent resting and recuperating, Hutchinson claims his knee feels better than ever. It certainly showed no ill effects this past weekend when he scored in the 90th minute of PSV’s thrashing of AZ Alkmaar, his second goal in as many appearances in the current Dutch campaign.

Deployed as a right fullback by PSV, Hutchinson is looking forward to playing again for Canada at a time when he’s back in top form.

“It’s been a good start to the season, personally. I’ve had a good training and pre-season, I’ve been feeling good and getting in some games. I’ve been playing in a different position but I’m happy to be out on the pitch and contributing in the team. I want to do the same for Canada,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson’s importance to his country can’t be overstated. The PSV midfielder is easily Canada's best player, combining speed, sublime distribution and playmaking ability. When he’s been absent through injury, Canada is a completely different team, lacking midfield creativity and offensive impetus. When he's healthy, he's a game changer.

He also brings his teammates more into the match, not only with his skills but also with his mere presence.

“I think it’s a different team mentally for the players (with Hutchinson in the lineup),” Canadian coach Stephen Hart stated. “He’s one of our leaders in the way he plays. He’s not very vocal off the field or on the field. But the way he plays, when he’s there, it gives the team a different dimension, a different balance. Having him is a big boost.”

In Friday’s contest and next week’s return match in Panama, Hutchinson will abandon the right fullback role he fills for PSV and once again serve as Canada’s chief creator in central midfield. It’s been some time since he’s played there, but he maintains it won’t be an adjustment at all.

“I’ve played in the middle throughout my career. It’s been my most natural position so I’m used to it. Of course, I haven’t played there for a little while, since the summer, but I’m sure I’ll get back into it pretty quickly,” Hutchinson said.

He later added: “When I play in (midfield) I always try to work hard both ways. Defensively, I try to do my job and also help with the team going forward. I’ll try to bring that into the (Panama) game.”

Watch Atiba Hutchinson’s goal for PSV Eindhoven against AZ Alkmaar:

Canada could certainly use his help on the offensive end, as the Reds have just one goal in their two qualifying matches this round. The Canadian team created plenty of chances against Honduras back in June, but failed to convert any of them and were far too wasteful in front of goal, and settled for a 0-0 draw.

Hutchinson is confident Canada will find the net in these pair of matches against Panama, and points to teammates such as Simeon Jackson and others who have recently scored for their European clubs as a good sign.

“We know have to start (scoring) to move onto the next round. It’s something we’ve been missing for years,” Hutchinson said. “We’ve got players who’ve been in good form and scoring this month, and hopefully they can bring that into this team.”
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post #19 of 39 (permalink) Old September 6th, 2012, 04:53 Thread Starter
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Canadian men’s soccer team keeps eye on the prize
PAUL ATTFIELD The Globe and Mail Sept 05 2012

Christine Sinclair and Co. will be back on the field for the first time since the Olympics Friday at BMO Field.

But when they take centre stage with their bronze medals, the women’s national team players will do more than simply be feted for their achievements in London – they will also be throwing down the gauntlet to their male counterparts waiting in the wings.

With the world’s most popular sport seemingly at an all-time high in this country – 3.84 million Canadians watched the heartbreaking Olympic semi-final defeat to the United States – Stephen Hart’s team can take another step closer to the world’s most-watched sporting event with a World Cup qualifying win over Panama.

In his second spell as head coach of the Canadian men’s national team, Hart says the spike in interest was there long before Sinclair and her teammates became the nation’s sweethearts.

“I saw this sort of wave a few years ago,” he said Wednesday. “The women got their just due in the Olympics, and I’m happy for them, but this has been building for a while.”

While Hart dismissed talk of the 2012 Olympic success adding pressure to his stalwarts, he also cautioned against putting too much stock in comparing the the two programs – especially when it comes to qualifying for the World Cup, to be held in Brazil in 2014.

“It’s not a pressure, it’s the reality,” he said. “If you want to get to the World Cup, you do everything to get to the World Cup. The men’s competition is very different – it’s more than two games to qualify. I don’t mean that with any disrespect. It’s completely different football.”

Already into the third round of qualifying, Canada has four points from two games, and a positive result Friday against the group leaders would put it in pole position to advance to the fourth and final round, squaring off with five other nations for one of the three coveted automatic qualifying berths for Brazil, or a playoff for a fourth and final spot.

Canadian defender Kevin McKenna made no bones about the challenge, calling the matchup with Panama “the biggest game in a long time for Canadian soccer.”

While the women’s team may have something to say about that, for a nation that has but one men’s World Cup appearance to its name, just having a chance to get down to the last throws of the qualifying dice would be an achievement.

Friday’s game at 22,000-seat BMO Field seems unlikely to be a sellout, but it will be the seventh consecutive home attendance of 10,000 or more – a Canadian soccer first.

But Hart is loathe to say the culture of soccer in this country has been altered permanently.

“We can’t talk about culture because we can only talk about that over a period of time,” he said. “This is great news if the game sells out or if we have more than ever Canadian support but let’s say it’s growing, and we will do our part to keep it growing.”

Having joined the rest of the country in watching the women fly the flag in Britain last month, midfielder Terry Dunfield is just hoping he and his teammates are up to the task of following in their footsteps, both Friday and in the return fixture in Panama next Tuesday.

“It will be tough to match what the women did,” he admitted. “But the spotlight’s on us the next two games and it’s important, especially at home, we go out there and show what we can do.

“Right now, what’s most important is the three points. Not putting on a show but being very business-like and if we can do that there’s a huge cherry at the end of it.”
Joe MacCarthy is offline  
post #20 of 39 (permalink) Old September 7th, 2012, 16:39 Thread Starter
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Canadian forward Simeon Jackson joined FAN 590's Brady and Lang to preview Canada's crucial World Cup qualifying matches against Panama.

Listen now: Simeon Jackson on Brady and Lang
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