If Atiba Hutchinson can do for Canada what he’s been doing for PSV Eindhoven, then there’s reason to be optimistic about the national team’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Panama.
Lack of finishing in front of goal has been a recurring theme for the squad. But given the recent run of form that Canada’s strikers and midfielders are experiencing at their respective clubs, there is reason to believe that things might be different this time around.
Both in European leagues as well as MLS, a flurry of Canadian players have been finding the back of the net. And for a team that has experienced continued frustration in front of goal, the timing couldn’t be better.
Hutchinson is one of these players. He has already accumulated two goals in four matches for PSV Eindhoven in the Eredivisie.
And the midfielder is hopeful that other players along with himself will be able to replicate their recent club form with Canada.
“I hope that some players can transfer that to the national team because there are a lot of players that have been in good form,” Hutchinson said, at the final tune up in BMO Field. “And if we can get a little bit of that over here, it’ll be good for us.”
Head coach Stephen Hart is equally as excited as anyone about the midfielder’s recent performances with PSV. And with Hutchinson’s career having been plagued by numerous injuries, Hart is looking forward to the creativity he carries into the squad.
“He brings a different sort of dimension to the game,” Hart told the media. “He allows us to connect the midfield to the forward line. He allows us to keep good possession. And hopefully he can transfer some of his scoring rhythm into us.”
In MLS, the Montreal Impact’s Patrice Bernier has also joined the Canadian squad fresh off an impressive month with his club.
The Quebec-born midfielder registered three goals and three assists as he carried the Impact to an undefeated 4-0-0 record in August. His impressive form earned him the Player of the Month, an award given to MLS players by North American Soccer Reporters.
Bernier kept it simple when asked about how he planned on translating his recent club success to Canada’s national team.
“I’m just going to try and keep the momentum I have with the club and try and bring something to the team. Hopefully the offensive spark I’ve had the last few weeks, I’ll bring it to the national team, and help the team win.
Another MLS player who enjoyed a successful August was Dwayne De Rosario. The Scarborough-born attacking midfielder scored his 100th career MLS goal during D.C.United’s 2-2 draw against the New York Red Bulls, a feat only accomplished by six other players.
While De Rosario acknowledges he’s been playing well recently, he remains focused on his role within the national team.
“Hopefully if I get the chance in front of goal, I can finish it. But the main thing is creating chances in my position. If a chance does arise for me, I’ll try my best to focus and finish my chance.”
These are just some examples of Canadian players who have been playing well for their club. There are others such as Simeon Jackson.
Norwich’s striker has already registered three goals in three appearances and should feature in at least one of Canada’s two matches against Panama this week.
The squad’s two fixtures against Panama in the upcoming week will go a long way in determining whether Canada reaches the “Hex”, the final round of qualifying in CONCACAF that will see six teams battle for three automatic World Cup berths.
Two matches into the third round of qualifying, Canada currently sits in the second place in Group C with four points. Ahead of them are this week’s opposition, Panama, with six points.
Honduras and Cuba have one and zero points, respectively.
It was at this point in the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers that Canada stumbled and essentially ended their chances of reaching South Africa. Two consecutive 2-1 losses against Honduras and Mexico in September 2008 put the team at the bottom of the table — a place the squad never climbed out from.
With Honduras expected to win both their matches against Cuba, only a maximum of six points against the Central American opposition will put Canada in prime position to advance to the “Hex.”
Now is the time for Canada’s offence to replicate their club form.