Goalkeeper goofs up

Canada's Adrian Serioux (left) battles for the ball with Jamaica's Deon Burton during a World Cup...

Canada's Adrian Serioux (left) battles for the ball with Jamaica's Deon Burton during a World Cup qualifier in Toronto on Wednesday. (Sun Media/Alex Urosevic)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

By making his 56th international appearance for this country, Pat Onstad tied Craig Forrest last night for the most caps earned by a Canadian goalkeeper.

On this night, some embittered Canadian fans among the 21,978 at BMO Field probably wanted to fit Onstad with his own personal dunce cap instead.

Harsh? Maybe a bit, especially when aimed at a standup guy like Onstad.

Then again, soccer spectators have been known to be unsympathetic when it comes to such screwups like the one Onstad committed.

"I'm disappointed," Onstad said after Canada's 1-1 draw with Jamaica in World Cup qualifying action. "I let the guys down."

With the bright lights of the Canadian National Exhibition twinkling in the distance, Onstad probably felt like he was in one of those eerie House of Horrors that has been a mainstay on the nearby midway for decades.

Just five minutes after a Julian de Guzman screamer had given Canada a precious 1-0 lead, disaster struck.

As Jamaica's Andrew Williams curled a corner kick toward the Canadian goal, Onstad attempted to play the ball, only to deflect it with his hand into his own net.

As Onstad and his teammates stood in shock at the goal in the game's 52nd minute, the Jamaicans, known as the Reggae Boyz, celebrated the valuable tally, much to the glee of the several thousand yellow-clad Jamaican fans in attendance.

"The cross came in, and when I went out to get it, I collided with some players, it hit my hand and it went in," Onstad said. "In the end, it's my responsibility, my mistake."

The goal was credited to Williams on the official post-game scoresheet but it was obvious the ball would not have crossed the line if not for Onstad's faux pas.

"The goal against was unfortunate," Canadian coach Dale Mitchell said. "I didn't have a great view of it. Pat got a hand on it ... It went in quite easy."

NO EXCUSE

While the Canadians carried the play for much of the evening, the hosts have no excuse for not finishing off the visitors.

With the Canadian Soccer Association having pre-sold approximately half of the tickets to support groups like the Toronto FC backers and the Voyaguers, the self-proclaimed largest support group of Canadian soccer, the Canadian team could not complain about a lack of home-crowd backing, as has been the case in the past.

Sure, the Jamaican fans made plenty of noise with their ever-present chants and whistles. But the red-and-white clad Canadian backers were in full voice, too, with huge Canadian flags scattered throughout the stadium.

In their futile attempt to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the Canadians squandered each of their three home games in the third round, losing twice and earning a draw in the other.

Now the Canadians have failed to post a win in their first of three home games in this round of qualifiers, an ominous way to kick off their bid to earn a spot in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Last night's result raises some key questions concerning Canada's goalkeeper situation.

Onstad is now 40. He might not even be around for South Africa should the Canadians qualify. And you have to figure that after last night's key mistake there will be calls for him to be replaced by Toronto FC goalkeeper Greg Sutton.

Give the Canadians credit for one thing: They did not give up.

In fact, De Guzman was almost the hero, blasting a drive off the crossbar in the 85th minute.

But this is not horse shoes. In soccer, close does not count.

Unfortunately for the Canadians, own goals do ... even if the goal officially was credited to the Jamaicans.


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