Chile's day of infamy in Canada
By STEVEN SANDOR, QMI Agency
Chile's Carlos Carmona in action at the FIFA U-20 World Cup held at Toronto in 2007. (QMI Agency/Dave Abel)
A large chunk of the players who will be on the field when Chile faces Switzerland on Monday likely have some very unflattering memories of Canada.
Five players on Chile's current team were parts of the team that took third place at the 2007 U-20 World Cup in Canada, and were part of the ugliest, dirtiest game in BMO Field history.
I've covered hundreds of league and international matches in my career; I have been to stadiums throughout Europe, Canada and the U.S.
But Argentina's 3-0 triumph over Chile at BMO Field in 2007 was one of the most memorable of any game I've witnessed -- for all the wrong reasons.
Midfielder Carlos Carmona, forward Alexis Sanchez and defenders Mauricio Isla, Gary Medel and Arturo Vidal all started in Chile's 1-0 win over Honduras in their World Cup opener -- and all were at BMO Field for the infamous game.
Carmona, Chile's captain at the U-20 World Cup, had to miss the game because of a yellow-card suspension, but the other four all got playing time.
And, for Medel, the game was a horror show.
He was red-carded in the 15th minute for kicking Argentine Gabriel Mercado. Problem was replays showed Medel kicked nothing but air. But Mercado went down like he was shot, and ref Wolfgang Stark sent Medel to the showers.
With Chile already down 1-0 -- on a goal by Angel Di Maria, who is now starting on the left wing for Argentina at this World Cup -- the game got out of hand. Tackles flew from every angle. Chile eventually went down to nine men.
Chilean coach Jose Sulantay had to be restrained by the fourth official as he tried to charge at the ref.
After the game, nine players were detained by police, including Vidal and Sanchez. There were allegations that the police had pepper sprayed and used Tasers on the Chilean players. One side claimed the players were causing trouble when they tried to board their team bus. The players claimed they were simply being harassed and abused.
I recall going behind the stadium, after the press conferences were done, and seeing a group of Chilean fans chanting "f--- the police."
In the end, the tensions waned and that Chilean team went out and beat Austria 1-0 in the third-place game.
The defence, which is almost identical to the one Chile uses at the World Cup, held opponents goalless in all its U-20 games but the Argentina semifinal.
The same Chilean team beat Canada 3-0 in the opener of the U-20 tournament at BMO Field. On Canada Day.
Chile is a shining example of how the people in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton and Victoria got to see the stars of tomorrow at the U-20. So many players from those games have graduated to South Africa.