As of late, Canadian Men’s soccer has materialized into an alluring trademark. One that’s improved its win total considerably and has bolstered viewership in the process. All of this wouldn’t be possible if not from the benefit of Canada’s fans. That have stuck with the club for years. However, through the team’s current run of success, some view it entirely different.
The newer generation of soccer fans in Canada have grown accustomed to winning a majority of games. This is solely based on the recent competitive nature of World Cup Qualifying. Although that is a worthy reason to support them, it is just not realistic. Take the Dutch for an example; one of the most talented teams in Europe, couldn’t even qualify for the European Championships in an expanded format. For that matter, winning in soccer isn’t all that straightforward. Despite Canada’s 35 Million population, international soccer is not a numbers game. If it was, India and China would be 1 and 2 in the FIFA World Rankings, but they aren’t. By most Canadian standards, every country wouldn’t be playing up to expectations.
That’s where my frustration lies with the fans. Yes it has been a long time since Canada has done something big on the Men’s side. Though, I don’t care, for the most part, because Canada is essentially a handful of breaks away from qualifying for the World Cup. A lot of International soccer games have the chance to be blowouts based on the gap between the rich and the poor. Based off with these standards, Canada is in the middle. The middle is not an embarrassment, especially for a hockey country that will never reap the resources to become a powerhouse like Spain and Germany.
Currently ranked 102nd in the latest FIFA World Rankings, Canada dives into the meat of the main stage of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. In years’ past, the fourth round is where Canada usually crashes and sputters out; cases like this is normal despite constituting promise from their young talent.
The 2014 cycle was no exception. That being said, everyone is quick to forget the chances that Canada had in order to advance to the Hex (Last stage of CONCACAF Qualifying).
Yes, the Canadian Men’s soccer team is frustrating. Their tendencies of lacking a true goal scorer pits them whenever they face Central America. Usually this infatuates frustration and as a result, amends a resolution. Most importantly, the massive hurdle Canada faces, and something they haven’t been able to overcome is capturing the attention of its fans the same way the Women’s team has for years.
Let’s get to some positives and believe me, there’s a few of them. First off, they are solid on defense, given their lack of an offense this somewhat balances out. Next, Canada is unbeaten at home in ten straight competitive matches dating back to 2008. In addition, Canada had their most successful qualifying campaign since the 1998 cycle and with that, Canada still can’t build any momentum with its fans.
I don’t think embarrassing is the correct word that we should be using. CONCACAF is allocated 3.5 spots in to the World Cup, considering the likes of Mexico, USA and Costa Rica all are superior teams compared to the rest, it is no surprise that Canada is having a hard time ending their 30-year World Cup drought.
Out of the other CONCACAF teams, there is a good half a dozen teams fighting for that last half of a berth. El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago are all competitive teams that believe they have what it takes to at least get into the Hex. So when adding Canada to the mix, this makes the competition that much intense. Out of the six teams that I mentioned, Canada has a losing record to all of them in the past 12 years. In competitive matches, their record is 5-8-6. That record isn’t acceptable, but by no means is it that dreadful that Canada Men’s soccer is an embarrassment. In fact, with a bit of consistent goal scoring, a lot of those ties would turn into wins.
This time around, it is hopefully different. This year’s team is younger, but also has way more potential and starting the fourth round off with a bang on Friday night against Honduras is vital.
For the fourth round, Canada has been pinned to a group that features Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico. At first glance, it seems like a tough group, but with new additions to the Canadian roster such as Frasier Aird and Junior Hoilett, who up until a few months ago had opportunities to play for other countries, Canada might just be ready to fight punch for punch with the good teams in CONCACAF. Canada isn’t an embarrassment, the fans are for not supporting them enough. It’s time for Canadians to stop expecting to produce a team just as good as Spain because realistically that is not possible. In fact, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you ever think Canada should win going away.
This World Cup Cycle will test the Canadians, but I believe they are up for the challenge.