September 6, 2011
Sluggish Canada gets the win
By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency
In the long run, it doesn't matter how you get to the top.
The important thing is simply being there.
After two CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2014 Brazil World Cup, Canada sits atop Group D despite playing less-than-stellar soccer.
Canada defeated Puerto Rico 3-0 in Puerto Rico Tuesday, raising its point total to six.
Canada got a first half goal from Iain Hume and two late goals from substitutes Simeon Jackson and Tosaint Ricketts for the win.
Some believed that Puerto Rico would present Canada its biggest challenge in this group, which also includes St. Lucia and St. Kitts and Nevis. Puerto Rico has six players who play in the North American Soccer League. While the team doesn't possess the highest calibre of talent, the players are familiar with one another.
There was hope this contest would display better quality soccer than Canada's opener against St. Lucia.
No such luck.
The game provided little in the way of skill. Even short passes proved difficult to complete.
It was an important win in order for Canada in order to stay in front of St. Kitts and Nevis, which earned points for its second consecutive match. St. Kitts and Nevis defeated St. Lucia 4-2 Tuesday to bring their total to four points after a 0-0 opener against Puerto Rico.
The winner of the group moves on to Round 3 of qualifying.
Canada's starting lineup featured four changes from the team that defeated St. Lucia 4-1 in Toronto on Friday.
Out of the starting lineup were Jackson, Atiba Hutchinson, Ante Jazic and Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault. Hutchinson is still dealing with an injury and head coach Stephen Hart wanted to give him more time off.
In to start for Canada were Mike Klukowski, David Edgar, Terry Dunfield and Will Johnson.
Canada wanted to build on an up-and-down performance against St. Lucia, but on a hot and muggy Tuesday night both teams looked sluggish.
Canada was fortunate to emerge from the first half with a 1-0 lead.
Canada pushed the ball around the park pretty well during the half, but showed little inventiveness when it came to finishing any of their moves.
They looked dreadful in the attack.
They didn't do anything to challenge second-string goal keeper Eric Reyes.
Puerto Rico had most of the good chances in the half but lacked the quality to finish.
Canada's goal came in the 42nd minute and hardly included any sort of buildup.
A cross into the Puerto Rican penalty area rattled off a couple of players. The ball fell kindly to Hume in front of the net, 12 metres out. He snapped a shot into the corner to break things open.
The goal was Hume's third in a Canadian national jersey.
The most effective and active Canadian in the first half was fullback David Edgar. The Kitchener, Ont., native created space down the right side with well-timed runs.
His second half strike toward the net led to the rebound that allowed Jackson to score Canada's second goal.
The second half was much like the first, a tedious, tired affair. Canada would control the ball for long periods of time but couldn't create a lot of chances. Puerto Rico would satisfy itself with the occasional foray into Canada's territory and hope for a Canadian mistake.
All Canada wanted this night was the three points, something it doesn't often get when it plays in the Caribbean or Latin America.
Teams are now idle until the second week in October when qualifying continues.