Monday, September 08, 2008

Without pain Canadian soccer would be meaningless

As an adult--and a sportswriter to boot--you try to keep things in perspective. It's just a game, no cheering in the press box, play with the kids/pet the cat/hug your partner, and all that stuff.

But, at 3 a.m. Sunday morning, as I sat staring at my computer scream, empty--just empty--none of that logic stuff meant a damn thing.

Canada had lost 2-1 at home to Honduras in World Cup qualifying. It had finished its two games at home with one point.


One tiny, nearly meaningless, hopeless point.

It didn't make sense. A little more than a year ago Canada was flying high after a successful Gold Cup. It looked to easily be the third best team in CONCACAF, closer to No. 2 than No. 4, actually. With several players in the world's top leagues it looked like this would finally be the year that the Canucks would put it together.

Even when this country got the all too predictable (borderline corrupt) draw, it was easy to stay positive. The bottom line: If Canada can't beat Jamaica and Honduras it doesn't deserve to go to the World Cup.

So far Canada can't beat Honduras and Jamaica. And unlike past cycles there really isn't anyone to blame. The referee didn't screw us, the opponents didn't steal things off an ugly dive and soul sucking time wasting (yes Honduras time wasted after it got the lead. Every team in the world does it. If the officials aren't prepared to do anything about it--and they clearly aren't--Canada probably should do more of it.).

Jamaica did just enough to steal the point on the road and, after the first 15 minutes, Honduras was simply the better team.

For the 1,000 or so of us that live and mostly die with this team it's beyond crushing. It's impossible-to-describe-how-irrationally-sad-you-are crushing. Age group tournaments and Gold Cups are all we seemingly have to look forward to for four more years. It would be so much easier not to care. So, so, so much easier. After all, no one else in the country seems to.

Of course they technically haven't been eliminated. Far from it mathematically, actually. With four games to play Canada is two points back of Honduras and tied with Jamaica. Mexico is doing what it is supped to do. Forget about Mexico. To advance you must finish above the other two. For Canada to do that it is going to have to win on the road. Likely twice. It doesn't seem likely. Hell, it barely seems plausible, but that's where it's at. Having Honduras drop points to Jamaica would help too.

But, man, is it hard to get excited about things now. As an adult you know that you're not supposed to care. But, you do. And, it sucks. But, such is the life of a Canadian soccer fan.


Anonymous said...

That one hurt on Saturday night ... but Duane, at least you can call yourself a sportswriter, unless that pathetic wanna-be Seager.

eyebleaf said...

a most appropriate rant.

all i was left saying after saturday's loss was: fuck

Mikey said...

Duane says: "And unlike past cycles there really isn't anyone to blame."

There is one person we absolutely can blame: Dale Mitchell.

Saturday was just the latest chapter of the most shocking soccer management this country has ever seen.

We start 4-5-1 at *home*. We get the lead on a great set-piece, and then *sit back*.

Unfortuate with the loss of Radzinski, who was effective down the right, Mitchell brings on Hume, who was abysmal.

I would have loved to be in the halftime team talk. Whatever was said, their passing game dropped off, they played the old fashioned long-ball, and left themselves vulnerable on the counter.

Needing goals, Mitchell takes off a *striker* and replaces him with Friend who probably should have been playing since the start as his first touch was good.

A silly challenge later by Bernier later, and the result was not in doubt in front of the rabid Honduran home crowd. I mean dejected Canadian crowd. (ps. great job CSA on handling ticket sales for that one---with such large Honduran support in MTL, the Jamaica game should have been played there...)

So, Mitchell has an Under 20 tournament *at home* with no goals to show for it.

In real qualifying (sorry St. Vincent) we have 1 point from two precious home games.

This man should not have a job by Wednesday.

Somehow I imagine that a squad so rich on talent (arguably our best ever...all the piece were there!) won't turn on him.

The CSA certainly won't turn on him.

Time for the 1000 odd supporters to.

I'm so sick that we won't be part of the world party once again and will have to listen to hockey fans berate soccer for 4 more years...

In mourning...

sager said...

There are a lot of places in the world where the national team coach falls on his sword after a showing like that.

Duane, who's out there who would be good for the attacking style of football Canada is capable of playing?

Duane Rollins said...

Actually the man sitting to Mitchell's left, Stephen Hart, was in charge during a tournament (the Gold Cup) that saw Canada play the most attractive, attacking soccer it has ever played. Although he's not the long term solution (at some point we need to open the bank to bring in a top guy), I'd be perfectly confident with him taking over for the rest of this cycle (the best candidates are already off the market now anyway).

It's pretty bleak right now, but it is worth mentioning that if we somehow pull one out of our ass Wed that we're right back in in. I'm not holding my breath, but Canada has been known to do the unexpected (both ways) from tine to time.

Jordie Dwyer said...

Bleak, bleak you say D.R.
I'd have a better chance of collecting on a pre-season bet that the Leafs will win the Cup next season than Canada does in winning a pair of road games.
Which is too bad, IMHO.
On the bright side, the CSA has booked the sides second to last qualifier for Edmonton for mid-October (yes, it is a decent soccer town but by then will fans really give a hoot in the cold - and likely snow - to pay to come watch).
Here's to anyone that decides the CSA needs to get rid of whoever believes they are in charge and give the reins to someone who knows what they are doing.
And from a fellow sportswriter D.R. - keep up the great work, I love reading it. Wish I had the time to do the same.