Kudos to Hart for stylish play

GARETH WHEELER

, Last Updated: 2:18 AM ET

Here we go again -- Canada is making another unexpected run at the Gold Cup.

Lack of preparation games? No problem. Key Canadian players deciding to take a pass? Whatever.

The bottom line is that Canada has flat-out performed, and winning the tournament's Group of Death is no small feat. Jamaica, El Salvador, and Costa Rica are all solid CONCACAF teams; none of them even close to a walkover.

There is reason to be more encouraged by this side than the team that was robbed in the semifinal against the U.S. in the 2007 event.

Much like that team, Canada's young talent has risen to the occasion.

This year's version is even more composed, confident and cohesive than the last .

Most noticeable is the team's confidence when in possession of the ball.

The young kids want the ball at their feet, which is a new-school trait of the up-and-coming breed of Canadian players.

And with any luck, we've seen the last of the Canadian kick and run for good.

This stylish side is a far cry from the team under former head coach Dale Mitchell.

As for any in-fighting, it's non-existent.

Seemingly bringing it all together, yet again, is interim head coach Stephen Hart.

Back on the sidelines, Hart has proven he can consistently get the guys to play.

Not just to play hard, but to play intelligently and he has got the most out of his roster.

There's no need to use the Canadian Soccer Association's limited budget to bring in a so-called "big name'' international coach when you've got a guy who can get the job done doing it right now.

After the tournament, regardless of whether they beat Honduras in Saturday's quarterfinal, the interim tag should be taking off.

Hart has to be the man.

That being said, more technical and support staff are needed to assist Hart on the scouting, player development, and organizational duties he currently has been over-seeing.

Meanwhile, there's plenty to look out for this week in Major League Soccer. The transfer window opens July 15, making international players available to sign with new clubs.

Of particular interest is Toronto FC's interest in Canadian midfielder Julian de Guzman.

Though an offer is and has been on the table, sources say nothing has changed and that de Guzman still plans on returning to Europe for at least a couple more years before joining TFC.

But expect Toronto to be active in the coming weeks.

Canadian striker Ali Gerba's arrival, once the Gold Cup is completed, bodes well for attacking options.

Still, TFC needs help with its depth at the back as well at the outside midfield positions.

Whatever TFC, which next plays this Saturday, does in the coming week is a side story compared to David Beckham's highly anticipated return to the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Grant Wahl's scathing Sports Illustrated account of How Beckham Blew It, including harsh criticism from teammate Landon Donovan, has given MLS some much- needed drama.

The accusations against Beckham seem more petty and calculated than any true indictment of the Englishman.

Are they supposed to light a fire under Beckham before he jettisons back to Europe for good?

The league and the Galaxy knew what they were getting with Beckham more than the other way around.

From Day 1, Beckham's American adventure was more about building Beckham's brand than any on-field achievement.

Beckham is a genuine guy and his heart is in the right place.

And the charitable and good Samaritan acts he does without publicity fly under the radar.

In retrospect, did Beckham make the move to MLS at the right time? Probably not.

But for the league, it has been an experience worth taking and a journey we haven't seen or heard the last of yet.

GARETH.WHEELER@CANOE.SUNTV/CA


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