Stephen Hart Archive

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Hutchinson, DeRo show guile in getting Canada key win over Panama

Atiba Hutchinson: Quick free kick led to the winning goal

It’s a goal that will loom large in Canada’s history, yet it was completed before almost anyone realized what happened.  A canny free kick from Atiba Hutchinson caught the Panama defence flat-footed and Dwayne De Rosario was there to convert the winner in Canada’s huge 1-0 victory in World Cup qualifying play in front of a very pro-Canada crowd of 17,586 at BMO Field.

With the match scoreless through 78 minutes, Canada picked up a free kick just outside the right edge of the box following a foul on Simeon Jackson. Hutchinson took a couple of slow steps towards the ball and then immediately lofted it across the field to a wide-open De Rosario.  The quickness of the play certainly left the Panamanians surprised and it almost caught De Rosario off-guard as well, but the forward buried the chance.

“Atiba is an experienced player.  When you see an opportunity you penetrate and attack it, and that’s what he did,” De Rosario said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hart preaches a balanced approach for Canada ahead of Panama WC qualifiers

Stephen Hart PHOTO: CANADA SOCCER

It’s the rare occasion where just about any hyperbole will do when describing the importance one game means to the Canadian men’s national team — and the men’s game in Canada as a whole.

Friday’s World Cup qualifier between Canada and Panama at BMO Field in Toronto is being billed as the most important game in at least a decade. Picking up four points in the first two games has raised the expectations of this team and two games in September will either see that expectation realized or it could all come crashing down if Canada can’t put in two solid performances against what could be the toughest team in the group.

“Do we really have to talk about the importance of the game?” was Stephen Hart’s no-nonsense answer when asked about the importance of Friday.

“You have four games and you have to look at it that way, but you can’t play before it comes, so the game at home against arguably the best team in the group is extremely important.”
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Bernier, Dunfield, De Jong back in the fold as Canada announces WC qualifying roster

Patrice Bernier

Coach Stephen Hart named a veteran-laden roster ahead of the Canadian men’s national-team’s Sept. 7 and 11 World Cup qualifiers against Panama.

Midfielder Josh Simpson, who suffered a badly broken leg in the final match of the 2011-2012 Swiss League regular season, is ut While he has got the cast off, he is still nowhere near ready to return to playing national-team soccer. Defender Mike Klukowski, who just moved to Cypriot side APOEL, hasn’t got enough training time and was left off the team. Youngster Samuel Piette isn’t on the team, as he hasn’t got playing time with his new team, Fortuna Dusseldorf. Also out is midfielder Issey Nakajima-Farran, who recently moved from Australia’s Brisbane Roar to Cypriot side AEK Larnaca.

But veterans have been called in to replace those players, most notably Patrice Bernier, who has been on absolute tear for the Montreal Impact. With nine goals and eight assists this season, he has asserted himself as not only one of the best players on the Impact, but one of the best midfielders in MLS. Also back in the fold is Toronto FC’s Terry Dunfield and FC Augsburg (Bundesliga, edited) defender Marcel De Jong.
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Hart, Canadian national team know what to expect from Panama

Stephen Hart

Stephen Hart doesn’t expect the Panamanian national team to reinvent the wheel before their two World Cup qualifying encounters in September.

The Canadian national team coach said in a conference call Thursday that the Panamanian squad has been consistent in its game plan, so his team should have a good idea of what it will face Sept. 7 at Toronto’s BMO Field and again Sept. 11 in Panama City.

“Panama has been a consistent squad in terms of players selected and how they play,” said Hart.

And what is that style? Expect a physical, fit team that will hit you on the counter, trying to exploit the ability of FC Dallas striker Blas Perez, who is on his way back from injury. Hart also knows that tenacity is part of the Panamanian DNA. It’s a quality about the Panamanians that Hart said he admires.
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Canada beats T&T in a surreal atmosphere for an international match

Captain Ante Jazic, left, and keeper Lars Hirschfeld enter the playing field in Lauderhill, Fla. PHOTO: CANADA SOCCER

To the outsider walking past the cricket oval at the Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill Fla., they could have easily confused Wednesday’s Canada/Trinidad and Tobago international friendly as a high-school soccer game.

With no national or FIFA anthems to introduce the players and just a scattered few in attendance, it was certainly yet another unique CONCACAF adventure with the Canadian men’s national soccer team.

All that aside, Canada overpowered Trinidad for virtually the entire game but in the end had to settle for a relatively modest 2-0 over their Caribbean foes in the first match the two sides have played since they played five times 12 years ago.

“I thought the first half we kept possession well—we moved the ball well but we really weren’t penetrating,” said head coach Stephen Hart afterwards. “We created a couple of chances but we really didn’t threaten them enough. In the second half we were far more dynamic. Our movement was better and quite frankly we should have scored more goals.”
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Hart gives four U-23s their first-ever national-team callups

Evan James: Got the call

Canadian national-team coach Stephen Hart promised he was going to give a look to some new players when his team faces Trinidad and Tobago in a Florida friendly Aug. 15.

He was true to his word. Four players who took part in Olympic qualifying with the U-23 side, Doneil Henry, Russell Teibert, Evan James and Lucas Cavallini, will all get their chances to make an impression with Hart. For James and Teibert, it’s a real opportunity, as they aren’t playing for their clubs outside of reserve matches.

“Though this is only a 72-hour FIFA window, the game will serve us well in terms of building towards the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in September,” said Hart in a release issued by the Canadian Soccer Association.
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Ricketts’ situation a concern for Stephen Hart

Tosaint Ricketts

The fact that Tosaint Ricketts faces a lengthy spell without club soccer is distressing to national-team coach Stephen Hart.

“It’s a major concern,” said national-team coach Stephen Hart in a conference call on Thursday. “But it’s in FIFA’s hands at the moment.”

Ricketts, who has been a fixture on the Canadian roster during this World Cup qualifying campaign, has been stymied in his attempts to get a deal with Bundesliga 2. side Dynamo Dresden. Even though Ricketts said the Romanian Football Federation gave him permission to leave Politehnica Timisoara after that club had failed to pay him for at least five months, German magazine Bild reported Wednesday that the Romanian Football Federation is demanding a loan arrangement or transfer fee if Ricketts wants to move to a new club, a move which brings his career to a standstill. This may be a battle he will need to take to FIFA, much like Canadian Josh Simpson had to do when he tried to leave Manisaspor once that team failed to meet its financial obligations to him. Simpson launched his case in August 2011 and had it resolved in January, 2012.

In the meantime, Hart said, “to keep Tos in shape, I will do whatever I can for him.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Canada to meet T&T… in a Florida public park

The cricket/soccer venue at Broward.

Canada will be playing Trinidad and Tobago in an international friendly on Aug. 15.

The venue? A community park in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on a field that’s also used for cricket. The Central Broward Regional Park (CLICK HERE) will be the venue, where Canada will in play in an enclosed stadium next to playgrounds, swimming pools, a splash park and a lake filled with pedal boaters. To be fair, it is the largest cricket facility of its kind in the U.S., and can hold 5,000. (Addition: The venue is also used for MLS combines and PDL play)

Still, it certainly wasn’t Canada’s first choice of venue: In a conference call Thursday, national-team coach Stephen Hart said that the original plan was to go to Lockhart Stadium, home of the NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers, and be part of some sort of soccer doubleheader. But that didn’t work out — and the facility ended up not being available.
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Hart gives us his post-mortem on Canada’s first two Group C matches

A couple of days worth of reflection haven’t softened Canadian national team coach Stephen Hart’s opinion of the last two World Cup qualifiers. It’s clear that he feels that Canada squandered a chance to be tied with Panama atop the CONCACAF Group C table, that Les Rouges should have six points from its first two matches, not four.

“Not only missed chances,” said Hart of Tuesday’s 0-0 home draw with Honduras, “But we failed to make the keeper work.”

But Hart said the problem wasn’t the system or the personnel. Canada scored just once (but didn’t surrender any) in its friendly against the United States, win over Cuba and draw with Honduras.

“It’s a matter of players hitting form at the right time,” said Hart. “It’s not an issue of not playing well or not creating chances.”
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Ex-TFC Academy prospect Gardner signs deal with FC Edmonton

Dino Gardner

Ex-TFC Academy fullback Dino Gardner isn’t going to get much time to acclimate to his new club.

The “trialist” tag was removed from Gardner Wednesday, as FC Edmonton announced the right back has been inked to a one-year deal with an added option year. Because the Eddies are so short on defence due to injuries — forward Matt Lam and midfielder Chris Kooy played as emergency defenders in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Fort Lauderdale — Gardner will be on the plane Thursday, as the team leaves for Florida ahead of Saturday’s return date against the strikers. Normal starting right back Antonio Rago, who was red carded last Sunday, is suspended for Saturday night’s match.

Gardner made the decision to leave TFC Academy in 2011, at the same time that teenage sensation Keven Aleman made his decision not to sign a promissory note to remain with the club.

Gardner said he simply knew there wasn’t a path for him at TFC to make from the academy to the big club.
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