Canada’s national program runs afoul
By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
Canadian soccer took a massive step in the wrong direction when they were blown out 8–1 by Honduras during the World Cup last October. It was one of the ugliest games I’ve ever suffered through—and as a fan of North American soccer, that’s really saying something. Stephen Hart stepped down shortly after the embarrassing loss, and no candidates are lining up for the head coaching job as of yet, leaving the never-ending question for Canadian soccer: what now?
Quite honestly, it looks like Canada is set to go through another Dark Age. Not that the period we’ve been experiencing was exactly paradise, but there was hope. Canada has had a set of solid, if unspectacular pool of players to pick from for several years now. Yes, it was still Canadian soccer: humping the long ball and running willy-nilly after it, but this was supposed to be the World Cup we had a shot at. Reaching the Hex was the bare minimum as far as expectations went.
Outside of Iain Hume’s substitute appearance and a few token moments of work from other players, you wouldn’t have even known that there were two teams playing. And why on earth is Julian De Guzman picked for these squads? He’s rubbish on the ball and he’s tit useless off of it. Give me Terry Dunfield over him any day of the week.
Canada is stuck in the archaic mindset of picking the biggest, strongest players from a young age. It’s a “win now” philosophy. But there’s a major hole in the thought process. When you get to the senior level, everyone is big and strong. That sole advantage you had is gone, and with it, are all the talented players who were passed by in favour of brawn. As long as Canada keeps “developing” its squads like this, there’s no hope for the national program.
Speaking of squad selections, the red and white probably blew their chance at pulling two promising players onto the squad with the loss as well: David “Junior” Hoilett and Jonathan De Guzman. Neither has declared which country they will play for yet, but after seeing the downward spiral that is Canada, it’s highly unlikely that either will choose to come home. That said, good riddance to them. If someone doesn’t immediately declare to play for their country, I’d rather they never do. It’s an honour and a privilege to wear the national colours. It’s not a right. It’s not something you should have to think about. It’s a loud and resounding “yes.” All this flip-flopping these spoiled brats put on these days is disgusting. Choosing to play for another country just because they have a better shot at winning is despicable. And no, I don’t count Owen Hargreaves; Canada snubbed him, not the other way around. Ryan Giggs is the classic example of how a player should conduct his international career. Wales never was, and probably never will amount to anything. But Giggs stuck with it despite the possible weaseling he could have done to get himself onto an English squad.
The impression I get from Hoilett is that he wants an easy “in” to the World Cup. Why not declare for Canada or Jamaica during qualifying so he could help them out? His tired excuse was something about wanting to focus on his club career. I can guarantee, if Jamaica qualifies, Hoilett’s club career will suddenly be completely sorted out. Think I’m hard on him? Keep in mind that this is the same fellow who has expressed an interest in trying to play for England—through some remarkable bloodline.
Those still holding out World Cup hopes for this country, grab a book or dozen. It’s going to be a while.