Give 'em all red cards

Team Canada's Will Johnson hides his shame against Austria at the U-20 World Cup in Edmonton...

Team Canada's Will Johnson hides his shame against Austria at the U-20 World Cup in Edmonton yesterday. (Sun Media/Darryl Dyck)

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:07 PM ET

It was a total travesty. An absolute abomination. A phenomenal farce.

And that's not in reference to another pathetic performance by Canada in losing 1-0 to Austria in the actual FIFA U-20 World Cup soccer game.

Hundreds and hundreds of infuriated fans who had purchased tickets through Ticketmaster online, were lined up outside Commonwealth Stadium for the first half because of ridiculously inadequate staffing. It wasn't until the second half that the crowd of 31,579 had assumed their seats.

As it turned out they didn't miss much in the first half. Nothing happened.

Canada, which managed one shot on goal in the 66th minute in a 3-0 loss to Chile in the opener in Toronto, didn't get their one and only shot on goal of this game until Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgualt's header hit the crossbar in the 49th minute.

Two games. Two shots. No goals.

Austrian keeper Andreas Lukse wasn't actually required to make a single save.

FIRED WIDE

Canada fired wide 10 times, two of them in extra time with the crowd trying to will them a win. Edmonton native Tosiant Ricketts missed one chance and Simeon Jackson an even better one which went wide of an inept left foot.

For the second game in a row, defender Marcus Haber was the goat on the first goal which left Canada chasing the game. The team, which went in with four yellow cards, took four more. There were plenty of negatives.

But at the end of the day there was more reason to criticize everybody else involved, from Ticketmaster to the local organizing committee, the Canadian Soccer Association and even FIFA for spoiling the day before Dale Mitchell's team soiled the sheets again.

After 30 minutes, fans who had thought of bringing printouts of their Ticketmaster transaction, were allowed to enter without acquiring the actual ticket from East side Gate 13 'Will Call' window while the rest were forced to wait.

On the west side, at Gate 2, more than 400 people were lined up to buy game day walk-up tickets, many of them not getting into the stadium until just prior to half-time either.

"Ticketmaster didn't have enough staff," said Val Close of the local organizing committee. "We called Ticketmaster around noon telling them they'd better be ready. Unfortunately they were not."

Soccer has had enough self-inflicted black eyes in this city without one like this in the biggest tournament ever hosted by this nation.

When they finally managed to get into the stadium, concession stands were dreadfully inadequate compared to the Edmonton Eskimos' home opener, which drew 33,038.

And inside the stadium, ambience was lacking, compared to recent welcome-the-world hostings such as the Edmonton 2001 IAAF World Championships in Athletics and the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women's World Championships.

Remember how stunning the stadium looked framed by those flags? Over 100 flag poles were without flags of the 24 competing nations. All sorts of little things like that.

TRAVESTY

But the big thing, with the ticketing travesty outside the stadium, combined with a 5:45 p.m. start time in a blue-collar town, Canada didn't have the boost from the fans they could have had. They really could have used it.

"The game started pretty slow," said coach Mitchell. "It was there for us to take the initiative but we never created enough to cause a problem.

"The support was terrific, especially when we started to push things a little bit. The fans were very anxious for us to do well. We really wanted to give the people what they wanted, which was something to shout about. But in the end we had no goals. Unfortunately the shot we had at the end of the game was wide and unfortunately that was the end of the story."

All the things which were wrong with ticketing, etc. can be cured by Sunday when Canada plays Congo at 6 p.m. on the heels of a New Zealand-Mexico game.

But can Mitchell fix what's wrong with his team to get a win and have things work out in other groups to be able to make the next round?

Will they give Canadians a goal?

Another shot on goal?


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