Welcome to Partially Obstructed View. We are each restrained by the limits of our own perspective, but when we meet to share information a clearer picture of the truth can be revealed. Comments & criticisms are welcome.

Thursday 16 June 2011

First Person View – Oh, Canada

Let me tell you about how my night went.

     I segregate myself from the world, sit down and watch the match. First half ends, Canada is playing well but squandering chances. Panama seems intent on playing for the draw. I go out for my half-time stress relieving cigarette. The landlord is there, having a few friends over. A cigarette turns into a beer, which turns into another beer, which transforms into some dinner, and then another beer. I stumble back in, having stopped the PVR, after the first hour it continued to play the game on that one hour delay. A little drunken I attempt to avoid the score while replaying the match – I had recorded it as a backup- unfortunately I see it’s the 89th minute and we’re winning 1-0.
     Oh well, the match is over, we’ve won; let’s watch the second half anyways. So I sit back, to enjoy our forecasted victory. Things progress, De Rosario gets shoved from behind, penalty for Canada. There’s the 1-0, ok let’s hold onto that. My mind starts to wander. I wonder if Canada has actually learned how to deal with this CONCACAF thing. I mean two penalty calls, the man advantage for most of a match due to our opponents receiving an early red card, two wins. A poor match against the US to be sure, but they’re not really the competition we need worry about. Maybe I’ll write about that after the game.
     Oh what’s this, Panama comes to life, they’re getting chances now. Hmm, Canada will hold on, just see this match out; look forward to the next round. Then it happened, a scramble in front, Canada stops for an apparent handball, the ball goes off the crossbar, the scramble continues a low shot from a tight angle squeeze through the legs of the Canadian keeper Milan Borjan. It’s in, the game is tied, 1-1. It’s ok; we can still go through, maybe…. Let me check the standings, oh crap.
     Now all the condemnations and complaints will have come out in full force, but let’s not lose faith. Canada struggled in all three matches. Simeon Jackson did not find the net (though he did have a glorious chance vs. Panama), the goalkeeping was shaky at best (Lars fumbled that first US goal and Milan did not command his box in the Panama game, chasing and flapping far too often), and the team looked unable to press their advantage in the final third (that cutting pass was missing).

     But take a moment to look at some positives; the defense was solid (only allowing 3 goals in their 3 matches; Andre(w) Hainault and Kevin McKenna made a nice pair of young, strong and old, experienced; Dejan Jakovic will be a useful third man), the possession was excellent (even without Atiba Hutchinson and a half-fit Julian de Guzman) the attack looked dangerous if lacking in bite (Josh Simpson and Mike Klukowski’s interchange on the left will only get better as they become club mates in Turkey) and Terry Dunfield has performed well (solidifying himself as a national team midfielder).

     Yes it would have been nice to have progressed in this Gold Cup, but due to the 3 group nature of the tournament and Canada’s inclusion in by far the toughest group, it was preordained. Examine the three groups: both A and B had teams that went undefeated (Mexico and Jamaica) amassing positive goal differentials of 13 and 7 respectively. The bottom teams in those two groups lost all three matches (Cuba and Grenada) amassing negative goal difference of 15 and 14 respectively. Group C’s top team (Panama) collected only 7 points (2 wins and a draw) resulting in a tiny goal difference of +2. The bottom team of the group (Guadeloupe) lost all of their matches, but only had a -3 goal differential. So group A had a range of 28 goals, B of 21 goals and C of 5 goals. As Sesame Street taught us one of these things is not like the others. Add to that disparity that Guadeloupe played two matches short a man for large portions and the margins of group C become even smaller.

     It is unfair that Canada (-1) missed out on the next round due to goal differential (El Salvador, 0) even though it is clear that the groups were not of equal strength. Perhaps some way of weighting the groups, or even just having four groups of three with the top two from each moving on would be a much fairer way of proceeding.
     All that being said it could have been worse for this team to do well by progressing, lose to a team we’re not expected to beat and head into world cup qualifying thinking things were good. At least through this disappointment the team will know that they must do better and be hungrier to do so to progress.
     They spent some good time together; we’ve capped a new keeper. Developed some cohesion in our passing game; gave our attackers a chance to play together. Yes it is disappointing but there is a bigger picture. Perhaps when they begin the next round of qualifying this disappointment will have served us well.

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