Hart as coach hardly a surprise

GARETH WHEELER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

It came as a surprise to none Friday when the Canadian Soccer Association's technical director Stephen Hart was named interim head coach of the men's national team for 2009.

For a second consecutive go-around, Hart will be calling the shots in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Everything else surrounding this summer's Canada team is up in the air.

Expectations will surely be tempered for Canada in the competition, much as they were back in 2007. But any expectations, either high or low, are far too premature, not knowing what the side will look like.

Because the team failed last summer in World Cup qualifying doesn't necessarily mean a whole new crop of Canadian players should be thrust on to the senior national side.

Although the qualifying campaign was miserable, Canada still has talent. If many of the same players are brought back into the team for the Gold Cup, it will be interesting to see how they respond to a different head coach.

Hart was clear in teleconference Friday, saying that bringing in a large contingent of young players for the Gold Cup is a difficult task without games for preparation.

Going young is certainly a priority for the men's team. As much as Canada hopes to be a serious contender in the Gold Cup, building for long-term is more important. So regardless whether Hart is the man for the squad permanently, preparation starts now for 2014 World Cup qualifying.

It's time for players like Portsmouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, Ipswich Town's Jaime Peters, and Newcastle's David Edgar to test their mettle as full internationals.

Obviously, Julian De Guzman is still Canada's centrepiece, but from there, questions will be asked who should be in and who should be out.

It probably makes little sense to have Tomasz Radzinski carry-on with the program. At 35, he won't likely be playing a key part in 2014 qualifying.

Likewise, any player on the wrong-side of 30 will have his future questioned.

The one exception is Dwayne De Rosario. De-Ro still has the ability to be a key player for Canada for the foreseeable future.

Regardless who's on the team, it needs more games -- period.

Since January 2008, the men's team has played only 13 games. And the majority of those games came through World Cup qualifying.

Over the same period of time, the Canadian women's team has played 30 times. Of course, this number was buoyed with it being an Olympic year.

The men's team will next play aganist Cyprus May 31. But the fact May 31 isn't a true international date will hinder team selection.

This one game isn't good enough.

Other potential games before Canada's Gold Cup kickoff July 3 are said to be a possibility, but nothing's certain. And it's not certain Canada will even play a game on home soil this calendar year. This isn't good enough.

Another failure

Another game, another terrible defensive performance by Toronto FC in a 3-2 loss to FC Dallas.

But a bright-spot offensively was much-maligned TFC striker Chad Barrett scoring for the first time this season.

Barrett did well to take his chance, but from a tactical point of view, he isn't being used properly.

Barrett's game isn't designed to play as the lone-striker he doesn't have the size or speed to fill that role in a one-striker formation.

On the flip-side, Danny Dichio is a traditional target-man. It's interesting that TFC head coach John Carver continually elects to bring Dichio off the bench instead of starting him.

If Dichio isn't a 90-minute player, he may be better used over the first 60 than the last 30.

Another option not seen in 2009 is Barrett playing alongside Dichio.

Considering how Barrett flourished playing with Dichio last year keeping them apart is puzzling.

When Dichio was subbed on in the 90th minute yesterday, it was the first time the two had been on the field at the same time all season.


Videos

Photos