Home Global Game CONCACAF Canada 0, Panama 0: Why boring can be beautiful

Canada 0, Panama 0: Why boring can be beautiful


If you were a neutral and stuck out all 94 minutes of Canada’s 0-0 draw at Panama, well either you really, really love soccer or you’re immune to boredom. You could sit through a Kenny G concert and be entertained.

Tuesday night’s game certainly wasn’t a masterpiece. It was a foul-filled, choppy affair, with really only two scoring chances of note. In the first half, Canadian keeper Milan Borjan leapt to stop a dipping left-footed volley from Anibal Godoy; in the second half, Borjan made an outstanding point-blank stop of a headed effort from Panama’s Luis Tejada. The Tejada chance came after Canada was caught defending too deep on a free kick into the box.

But, with 33 fouls called in the game — 20 of them called against the Panamanians — the game stuttered. Even though Godoy saw his second yellow in the 69th minute, the best Canada could do was an injury-time snatched shot from Tosaint Ricketts that went so far wide of goal, it’s a stretch to refer to it as a legitimate scoring chance.

Yes, the match was ugly. But, for Canadian soccer followers, they have to look at the silver linings. The fact is, when it comes time to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, a scrappy, ugly, boring 0-0 draw in Panama would be seen as a very good result for the Canadian national team. Heck, it’s a good result for anyone in CONCACAF. The secret to moving onto the hex, and qualifying out of the hex, is to scratch out points on the road — draws are fine — and take care of business at home.

Canada beat Jamaica in its most recent friendly on Canadian soil. After a 1-0 loss to Colombia in New Jersey, the Canadians got a draw in a Central American environment that’s usually a tough place to play.

Did Canada threaten the Panamanian goal at all? No. But it’s better to play the scrappy, tactical game rather than risk opening up the match, where the percentages favour the home team. This is important to remember: If you want to be entertained, watch club football. International football is about results — and the ends justify the means. Coach Benito Floro has said over and over that he’s hammering the tactical side of the game home. He’s smart enough to know that a coach who regularly can get 0-0 draws on the road in Central America is a coach who will get his contract extended.

And, as Canada’s form improves under Floro, we can all look to what looks to be a very special U-20 group to provide the offence needs in the future. The U-20s just finished a tour of Europe which saw them tie England, beat Russia and, on Tuesday, beat the Americans, 1-0. The likes of Jordan Hamilton and Hanson Boakai look to be legitimate offensive weapons for the future.

Despite the dastardly dull nature of the game, the Canada-Panama encounter offered lessons for the players and reminders for the long-suffering Canadian supporters. Playing ugly on the road is absolutely fine.


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  1. john anderson

    November 21, 2014 at 1:45 am

    would rather see the u-20 team against panama … snoozefest

    have felt canada best chance of winning is with a forward combo of ricketts N REB .. use their speed to force defenders to make mistakes cause clearly canada doesnt have the technical players to win any other way

  2. Seathanaich

    November 19, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Good points and good article.

    I’m not going to get all giddy, but we have a large enough sample size now to know that (a) Floro is doing a very good job with what he has to work with (ie he is a good manager/coach), and (b) there is reason for optimism for the CMNT.

  3. supportingtheminnow

    November 19, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    that game was BOOORRRINNNGG. I could barely stay awake.
    but a point on the road in Central America is such an amazingly rare thing it has to be seen as positive.

  4. cwell

    November 19, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    I have no idea who Kenny G is, but, personally, I found the game very interesting. It was all about whether the Canadian players could stay focussed & defend in depth when required to do so. For the most part, they succeeded. Can’t believe that DeGuzman and DeRo were able to play as they did, for what, 75′? Apart from JDG diving in a few times, these two showed leadership. And then we saw part of the future cast, for surely Osorio and Teibert will be part of the starting 11 in Gold Cup & WC matches.

    Mission accomplished for Floro, I would think. He got a very good look at who made the grade in Central America, and will be able to plan accordingly over the winter.

    • Rango

      November 22, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      DeRo did nothing out there. No threat when he did get possession. Looked well off the pace. He must have a special personal services contract that states he must start whenever he’s called up for the NT. He shouldn’t be called up anymore. Ditto Bernier. JDG was the best of those three but since this is the only playing gig he has right now, he needs to play it like a cup tie in order to find a job.

      We played, and will continue playing, bus parking soccer under Floro. However, I’m cool with it because that’s the only way we are going to get into the Hex with this group of players, so anybody with romantic notions that Floro’s going to turn us into the tika-taka kings of Concacaf should think again. If some of these U20s do pan out down the road, then things may be different for WC 2022.

      On a related note, I think Miller should make a move from Kyle Bekker. If TFC add a top notch CAM to partner Bradley, Bekker’s going to be stuck on bench but I think his passing and set play service skills would really help the Eddies next season, and he would benefit from a regular starting place. Just my two bits here.

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