Canada missed Golden opportunity vs Jamaica

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 Canada missed Golden opportunity vs Jamaica


August 20, 2008

The opening Group 2 World Cup qualifier match between Canada and Jamaica at BMO Field in Toronto lived up to its billing as the Reggae Boyz and Canucks continue their impressive run in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers in an effort to re-emerge at a World Cup after a long absence.

The Jamaica-Canada game was played before a record crowd of 21,978 fans at BMO Field and although Canada enjoyed the better of the exchanges and the 12th man advantage their lack of production and continuity on offense was their main obstacle.

For many die hard Canuck’s fans the tie may come back to haunt the team since Canada did not capitalize on their territorial advantage and as a result Jamaica managed to create set plays from several counter attacks down their flanks to gained momentum heading into the second half.

To me there was no question that the Reggae Boyz vertical game was more dangerous than Canada’s although it took the Boyz a while to unleash their offense but after creating the space it was obvious that on every run the Boyz made on the flanks it seemed that their player had a clear path to goal to the delight of their cheering fans.

I thought the early yellow card to Dwayne De Rosario for retaliation affected his game somewhat and work against him since he did not get the benefit of a few of the referee calls that should have gone his way.

I also thought that Canada’s Tomasz Radzinski and Bob Friend were struggling with their game in the offensive zone and I was baffled to coach Mitchell reasoning behind striker Ali Gerba absence from the starting line up or his late replacement of Rob Friend at the 87th minute of play.

Canada Ali Gerba is the second leading scorer in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers and it is no secret to be a productive scorer like Gerba one has to feel that he has the confidence of his coach to perform and be productive at that level.

However in spite of these offensive kinks and the defenses outweighing the offenses in a 0-0 halftime score the big question was which team would gained the early momentum at the beginning of the second half and no sooner than two minutes into the second half the answer came as Julian De Guzman unleashed a well hit 25 yard grounder through the leg of a Jamaica defender and off the finger tips of Jamaica’s goalkeeper Donavan Ricketts.

Not to be outdone the Reggae Boyz responded with a goal of their own (somewhat) when Canadian goalkeeper Pat Onstad reacted late and mishandled an Andrew Williams in swinging corner kick from the left side into his net at the first post.

With this unfortunate turn of events and two goals in just seven minutes after a scoreless first half most fans were on needles and pins since the two defenses were now playing a little less conservative and the winning goal seemed to be in the next offensive play.

Although there was no more scoring in the game there were a number of near misses and fantastic saves by the goalkeepers on both ends of the field. With big saves being the order of the day lady luck show up for Jamaica when “Man of the Match” Julian De Guzman sizzled a shot of the paint of the cross bar at the 87 minute mark

In retrospect I think Canada missed a golden opportunity to move up in the Group 2 standings since Mexico came from behind to defeat Honduras 2-1 and now leads the Group with three points and with Honduras on the menu for Canada on September 6 in Montreal it is imperative that Canada gain a result in that game before taking on Mexico in Edmonton.

Jamaica on the other hand dodged a bullet against Canada and should feel good about the one point gained in Toronto at BMO Field. However the Reggae Boyz are not out of the combat zone and would have to live up to their impressive home record when they meet #1 seed Mexico next at the “Office in Kingston Jamaica for their next game.

Soccer Update: Trinidad and Tobago Soca Warriors made a strong bid for a spot in the final round of six and return to the World Cup after defeating Cuba 3-1 in Havana. With the win T&T sits at the top of Group I standing with USA after the US defeated Guatemala 1-0 after being outplayed.  Guatemala in a must win situation has to travel to play T&T in Port of Spain next while Cuba with lots at stake remains in Havana to play USA.

In Group 3 heavily favored Costa Rica weather the storm to defeat El Salvador 1-0 while Haiti relied on the dramatics by scoring two goals in the last minutes of play to tie Surinam 2-2.  Costa Rica can move into the Group 3 driver seat with a win at home in their next game against Surinam while Haiti and El Salvador will do battle in San Salvador to posture with Surinam for the second spot of the group.

Its  Canada vs Jamaica at BMO Field

 The final week of preparation for the third round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers is here and all the action and excitement in the first leg match of Group 2 between Canada and Jamaica will be coming to you live and direct from BMO Field in Toronto on Wednesday.

When last I checked the two teams match up beautifully since Canada has a renewed sense of confidence that will keep them up to par with the Jamaica Reggae Boyz speed and rhythm. Although the game is in Toronto no one would venture to predict which team would ride the rhythm of the 12th man advantage come Wednesday.

What I can tell you is that there was a late rush for tickets from a large contingent of Caribbean fans and that does not clarify that scenario either. There is also supposed to a “Go for Goal Tour” arriving from Jamaica for the game but rest assured on game day the TFC season ticket holders may have the big say in which way the crowd support may swing.

However the major factor towards the outcome of the game is always the scoring summary and my estimation is that if either team scores an early goal that will open up the other team defensively or at least wake up the conceding team and allow them to turn up the power to overcome the deficit.

The last scenario seems more likely and should it be Canada which can get off to an early lead it would no doubt present a sticky wicket for the Jamaica’s defensive coverage in an effort to curtail the ever dangerous Canadian midfielders in Dwayne De Rosario and Julian De Guzman.

This tandem is arguably at the top of their game since they both received MVP and Player of the Year awards for their exploits last with their clubs and Canada and were outstanding in their last game for Canada. Dwayne De Rosario plays for the MLS Houston Dynamo while his Canadian team mate Julian De Guzman plights his trade with Spain’s Deportivo La Coruna’s..

However in spite of the potency of De Rosario and De Guzman the Reggae Boyz and their Jamaican fans would tell you that they intent to leave Toronto with at least a point from this encounter and with coach Simoes back at the controls they are confident that it can happen.

It is conceivable that the Reggae Boyz defense may limit the production of the Canadian strikers but the challenge for Jamaica would be how they will adjust to the Canadian midfielder’s transitional game. Canada’s midfielders have improved their play dating back to Gold Cup 2007 and although the teams split victories in their friendly games in 2006 the teams were missing some of the players now in the team.

Presently the Reggae Boyz team boasts tons of speed and skill on their flanks which could force Canada’s strikers Tomasz Radzinski, and Ali Gerba (the most likely starting strikers) up front to track back to slow up the flank penetration to allow their midfielders to solidify their defensive positions.

The Reggae Boyz defense lead by TFC own Tyrone Marshall may bend but it may not break if Canada does not maintain offensive momentum to apply direct pressure. In failing to do that Marshall and company would be free to do what they do best which is push forward.

However as the Reggae Boyz prepare for their game at BMO Field coach Rene Simoes has made a brave push to install the discipline and pride that he thinks would be needed for Jamaica to advance to another World Cup and since Simoes was the man at the helm that when Jamaica Reggae Boyz made it to World Cup France in 1998 no one should oppose.

Based on Simoes fundamental policies it has been reported that striker Marlon King has been omitted from the Jamaica squad for the Canada game. King omission caught a lot of the Reggae Boyz supporters by surprise but in a letter to the media a month ago, Simoes cautioned that there would be surprises in store after speaking to his troops going public about discipline, self control, winning and a positive and creative attitude for the Jamaica team.

Simoes letter can be seen in its entirety on and the most notable sections of his letter read “I will not compromise my principles in the name of a player, or the clubs or the persons who are connected to them,”

With Simoes in control it is conceivable that Jamaica could be coming into BMO Field with the same game plan as Canada which is to strike first and early but I would think that if Jamaica could limit Canada’s scoring chances Simoes would trade the early goal for a late lone goal and 3 points in hand to leave BMO Field.

For obvious reason Canada first option should be to take the early lead and let the chips fall where they may since Canada is at home and regardless of the support at BMO Field I think Canada would have to initiate the action to win this game.

 Canada defeat Jamaica in friendly 06-09-2006

Canada defeated Jamaica 1-0 at the Claude-Robillard Stadium in Montreal, on a goal scored by striker Rob Friend in the 41 minute of play. The large crowd (estimated at 6,500) was treated to a well played game as Canada controlled the first half while Jamaica controlled the second.

The game was a typical meeting of the two countries whose results were dead even in their 11 encounters with each team with 5 wins and one tie. In the early stages of the game Jamaica was on the defensive while Canada systematically moved the ball around to create scoring chances. Canada’s best scoring opportunity was from a volley shot by #10 Rob Friend at the 10 minute of the first half. He received a Julian De Guzman cross ball just behind the Jamaican defense but hurried his shot which cause the ball to raise high over the crossbar.

Friend persistence was rewarded just before the half when he capitalized on a blunder by Jamaican goalkeeper Shawn Sawyers when the keeper miss judged a cross ball to allow Friend to score a neat header that give Canada a 1-0 halftime lead The second half started with the teams more patient and deliberate in constructing and executing their plays. The Reggae Boyz seemed more determined to explore Canada weaknesses by using their elusiveness players in isolated situations. Reggae Boyz #7 Jamal Campbell seemed to be the target and the designated destroyer with his crafty moves. Campbell success created excitement for the crowd and attracted two Canadian defenders every time he had possession of the ball.

This situation created extra space for his teammates as # 5 O’Neil Thompson was allowed him to take controlled of the game. The last 15 minutes of the game was a good test for the Canadian team defensively and was it not for several brilliant saves made by Canada goalkeeper Greg Sutton the out come of the game could have be different as Canada secured the 1-0 victory

The game was the first for Canadian interim Head Coach Stephen Hart, a native of Trinidad and Tobago and the rematch is scheduled for October 8 in Kingston, Jamaica. Judging by the intensity of this game it is safe to say that the rematch in Kingston should produce more than one goal.


Jamaica defeat Canada in friendly rematch 10-08-2006

 Jamaica Reggae Boyz regrouped to defeat Canada 2-1 in their rematch game played at the National Stadium in Jamaica. The Reggae Boyz lost to Canada 1-0 in Montreal Canada in September, and was later eliminated from the Digicel Cup after suffering a surprising 2-1 lost to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and their inability to score the 3 goals needed in their 2-0 win over Haiti. Jamaica failure to advance in the Digicel competition also put them out of the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2007 tournament.

 In the rematch game against Canada, the Reggae Boyz mustered enough offense to come from behind to win unlike their first game The Boyz fell behind in the 9th minute of play on a goal scored by Canada’s midfielder Tomasz Radzinski but to their credit they kept their composure and slowly clawed their way back into the game. They were rewarded when they caught Canada’s defense napping and score two goals in quick succession. The goals were scored by Luton Shelton and Demar Phillips at the 35 and 38 minute respectively. The rest of the game was a reverse in the roles that the two teams played in their first meeting in Montreal. This rematch ended with Canada pushing forward in search of the tying goal with no time left.

This was a huge win for the Reggae Boyz heading into their next International friendly against Peru  on November 15 at the National Stadium in Jamaica. The Reggae Boyz offense seemed to be getting on track, but their defense needs to keep opponents off the scoreboard on a regular basis to allow their offense the luxury of a lead.  The defense played well in the second half to shut down Canada’s aggressive offense and secure the win.

Jamaica – Richard McCallum, Damion Stewart, Oneil Thompson (Shavar Thomas 46th), Shane Crawford (Demar Phillips 26th), Xavean Virgo, Khari Stephenson (Fabian Davis 88th), Omar Daley, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Jermaine Hue, Luton Shelton (Teafore Bennett 73rd), Ricardo Fuller.

Canada – Kenny Stamatopoulos, Kevin McKenna, Marco Reda, Patrice Bernier (Ali Gerba 77th), Paul Stalteri, Julian de Guzman (Martin Nash 58th), Tomasz Radzinski, Rob Friend, Mike Klukowski (Gabe Gervias 24th, Adam Braz 92nd), Atiba Hutchinson, Josh Simpson