Canada’s national team: Who stays and who goes?
Soccer squad looking at major changes moving forward
Oct. 16, 2012 will go down as one of the darkest days — if not the darkest day — in Canadian soccer history.
Needing only a draw to advance in qualifying, what unfolded was a 90-minute Honduran assault that would have left any Spanish commentator’s throat sore by the end of the match.
With no option except to look forward, here’s a glance at the eleven Canadian players who took the field against Honduras on Tuesday and some perspective into whether we can expect to see them featuring for Canada again.
Hirschfeld’s future with the national team is one of the tricker ones to analyze.
At 34 years of age, he could easily have another World Cup qualifying cycle left in him and for the most part, his form has remained consistent since taking over as Canada’s number one choice between the posts.
But with younger options such as Milan Borjan and Montreal Impact Academy keeper Maxime Crepeau on the rise, a change in net seems foreseeable.
Ledgerwood started off the qualifying campaign as a right back before being deployed routinely in Canada’s midfield where he seemed far more comfortable.
Currently playing in the second division of Swedish soccer for Hammarby Fotboll, the 27-year-old showed brief flashes of what he’s capable of doing, but often struggled to get himself involved in the match.
Against Honduras, Ledgerwood was almost invisible and one has to think that someone like Samuel Piette wouldn’t have a hard time filling his boots.
Despite playing for APOEL, a side that made a formidable run in last year’s UEFA Champions League, Klukowski doesn’t seem up to the task of being Canada’s first-choice left back.
Against Honduras, he was consistently beaten on the right flank by Emilio Izaguirre and Arnold Peralta, although he was provided almost no support from Tosaint Ricketts who should have been tracking back to help him.
At 31 years of age, his best years are already behind him and with Marcel de Jong and Ashtone Morgan both fighting for a spot in Canada’s roster, we may not see Klukowski feature again.
Oh, Kevin McKenna. It seemed as if Canada’s captain just couldn’t find the back of the net despite consistently winning headers in the box against every team.
Although the 32-year-old proved solid throughout the qualifying campaign, the defender’s performance against Honduras was likely more indicative of his future. He looked shaky, unreliable, and was responsible for Honduras opening the scoring.
His time with the national team will likely fade over the coming years and his departure will be made all the more quicker depending on how Toronto FC’s Doneil Henry evolves as a player.
Similar to McKenna, Hainault looked reliable throughout most the third round of qualifiers, but he was out of his element and responsible for a few of Honduras’ goals on Tuesday.
Now 26, he’ll likely remain part of Canada’s back line, but a shift to right back seems likely considering that’s where he plays for the Houston Dynamo and where he is most comfortable.
Julian de Guzman
There were matches where de Guzman made a noticeable difference to Canada’s game, and then there were many occasions where he failed to show up.
At 31 years of age and with a glaring inability to link up with players up front, it’s hard to envision him earning many more caps with the national team.
It’s very probable he’ll be part of Canada’s Gold Cup squad in 2013, but by the time the qualifiers begin for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, he’ll likely find himself out of the team.
Johnson is one player who seems to have a bright future with the national team.
His presence was obvious in each qualifier and his versatility makes him an integral part of Canada’s national team moving forward.
The 25-year-old works incredibly well with the players around him, particularly Atiba Hutchinson. He can also find the back of the net more often than some of Canada’s strikers and his work rate is undeniable. Expect to see a lot more of Will Johnson.
Ricketts starting against Honduras sums up the lack of options Canada has for strikers.
Unless the ball is served to him on a plate, the 25-year-old seems to squander the vast majority of his chances. And in one-on-one situations, he’s unable to open up any chances.
Against Honduras, he should have been tracking back to help out on the right flank, but was nowhere to be seen. It shouldn’t be long before someone like Lucas Cavallini takes his spot in the squad.
Many were hoping for Jackson to replicate his club form at Norwich throughout Canada’s qualifiers. But for the most part, it wasn’t there.
That being said, he’s undoubtedly one of the national’s team best options in attack and should he remain playing in the English Premier League, he will only continue to grow as a striker over the next few years.
At 25, he’ll be a staple of the squad for years to come.
There is no player who is as talented on Canada’s national team as Atiba Hutchinson. If it weren’t for him, Canada would have been eliminated from qualifying a long time ago.
He’s the most technically gifted player in the side and can provide moments of brilliance in the midfield.
At 29 years of age, he will certainly be a part of Canada’s next qualifying campaign and Canadian supporters will be hoping he can maintain his current form.
For a player who isn’t a right back for his club, he seemed incredibly comfortable in the position for Canada.
With an ability to burst down the flank, get involved in the attack, and score goals like the one he did against Cuba, he’ll very likely be a part of the squad in years to come.
But for maximum effectiveness, a move to the midfield seems to be a likely option.
About this article: