It was a happening

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:28 AM ET

It was five minutes into the second half when Tomasz Radzinski scored for Canada.

The veteran ripped his shirt off and headed away from the net like a balloon with the air let out. Suddenly he was doing a dance with the corner flag.

At that moment what was supposed to be a non-event had been totally transformed into one helluva happening.

There were 14,105 fans in the stands - a remarkable number considering the circumstances with Canada having already been eliminated from World Cup qualifying, and the fact the calendar read Oct. 15.

The goal gave Canada a 2-1 lead over mighty Mexico, the giants of CONCACAF soccer, a team which has been to the World Cup on each of the last four occasions and 13 of the 18 held in history.

KARMA IN PLAY

Most press box observers felt the Mexicans deserved to be down 2-1 because their first half goal off a free kick following a collision should have gone against Mexico instead of Canada.

Only moments earlier the Mexicans found out the Jamaican team which had scored a shocking win over them last weekend had scored a 1-0 win over Honduras to further complicate life for Sven-Goran Eriksson's team.

For the longest time there, a raggedy-ass bunch of dead duck Canadians were flying high and looking like they might be part of the story of the year at this stage of World Cup qualifying if they played a part in eliminating Mexico from World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

Mexico came back to eventually tie the game. And while they go to the final game of group play still without having advanced, they are in a lot less trouble getting a point out of the game than they would have been if they'd lost.

Mexico has 10 points, Honduras nine and Jamaica seven going into the final matches with Mexico in Honduras and Jamaica at home to Canada. A win is worth three points and a tie one. You get the picture.

At the end of the day it was a chance for the Canadian team, which came here lower than a snake's belly, to have one feel-good game in front of a Canadian crowd.

Radzinski's moment was the freeze frame of the game.

"It was such a long time since my last goal for Canada," said the striker who won his first cap for Canada 13 years ago when he scored his first goal against Brazil.

"To be back in Canada, on Canadian soil ... that thing with the corner flag just came out naturally."

The game itself came out of nowhere. This was a team which had soiled the sheets yet again in World Cup qualifying. They had nothing to play for except pride and there were major questions about whether they had any of that.

"I think we made a statement," said the old pro who might have played his last game for Canada in Canada.

"We came here down and we showed we're willing to fight for each other and Canada," he said.

And it wasn't a Mexican team playing poorly like they did Saturday in losing in Jamaica to get themselves in this jackpot in the first place.

"Today we played football," said Eriksson, their famed new coach who took England to the last two World Cups.

"Today was much better. Canada played well. It isn't easy to come play the game when you know the World Cup is out of reach."

ONE LAST NIGHT

Coach Dale Mitchell, who has about the same chance of returning as head coach with this team as Stephane Dion has of being leader of the Liberal party in the next election, at least had this night with his team.

"It was a good game. We could have had the win. We got enough chances. We didn't think they should have been awarded the free kick that turned into their first goal. I'm just happy the guys showed they could perform at home and have a good game. It was a good crowd and they were treated to a very entertaining game."

It was a night when you wondered if anybody would show up in the stands and if Canada would show up on the field. The expected no shows showed up and were treated to a heck of a show.


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