Home Global Game CONCACAF Canada out to avenge 2007 Gold Cup loss to the U.S.

Canada out to avenge 2007 Gold Cup loss to the U.S.

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The time for talking is over — in just over 24 hours, Canada will look to upstage its rivals from the Unites States as both teams begin their Gold Cup campaigns in Detroit.

Whenever the U.S. and Canada play each other it’s a big game, but when the neighbours take to the pitch on Tuesday night, the Red and White will also have revenge on its mind.

The last time the countries met at the Gold Cup, the stakes were high in a 2007 semifinal match. Down 2-1, Canada thought it had equalized in stoppage time on a goal by Atiba Hutchinson. But, instead the play was flagged for offside by the linesman. Instead of going to extra time, Canadian players hung their heads suddenly ousted from the tournament. Replays indicated that this was likely the wrong call.

Canada still has many players on its roster from that game and the memory of that loss is still hard to swallow.

“I think pretty much the whole team has kind of got that in their heads from the last time we played them, a couple of Gold Cups ago,” said Hutchinson. “I think it is a little bit of getting back at the States and we always look forward to playing them in the game like that, they’re a good team and I have respect for them.

“That’s a very important game for us, we always enjoy playing against the States and we want to do the best we can. We want to go out and get a win. It’s going to be important focusing on that game and then from there take it one step at a time.”

Although central back Andrew Hainault has not forgotten that loss in 2007, he refuses to use it as a source of motivation.

“It’s in the back of your mind, but I’m not going to sit there and try to get pumped up because four years ago, they sort of robbed us a bit on that but that’s over, we’re past that,” said Hainault. “The incentive is putting in a good result and putting in a good game”

“It still has a bad taste in our mouths but it’s always been a rival, regardless whether it’s soccer, hockey – doesn’t matter what the sport is,” added midfielder Julian de Guzman, who was named the tournament MVP in 2007.

“Playing against the States there’s always something special involved. Playing against them is not just a friendly match anymore, it’s a tournament that we want to come out the best at and the States are definitely the favourite in this game.”

Forward Dwayne De Rosario is a veteran of the national squad and is no stranger to playing against the U.S.

“It’s going to be a tough game, no doubt about it. America is a great opposition, it’s a huge rivalry for us,” said De Rosario.

“I know what that situation is like playing against the US in all levels, you play with a lot of pride, one that I hope a lot of Canadian people come out and show their support in Detroit. It’s right across the border and I’m looking forward to that matchup, it’s always a great rivalry.”

The Americans, however, have never lost a match in the group stage of the Gold Cup and will pose many problems for Canada when the two teams kickoff at Ford Field. Led by veterans Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Tim Howard, U.S. coach Bob Bradley has many weapons at his disposal, even 18 year-old Juan Agudelo.

De Rosario plays alongside Agudelo with the New York Red Bulls and gave some insight about the talented youngster.

“He’s young, he’s tenacious, he’s strong — he has a lot of good qualities for a young kid,” said De Rosario. “He’s quick, he’s good with the ball. You look at all that and you got a quality forward right there. I train with him everyday and play with him — you see those qualities develop more and more.

“Whether or not he’ll start will remain to be seen because they do have experienced forwards, but you can definitely look for him coming on at some point in time, trying to spark the team up. We just got to be mindful of those weapons that they have coming off the bench. But most importantly we just go to do our job, do what Stephen Hart asks of us and we should be fine.”

The US was humbled in a friendly Saturday when the team was thoroughly outplayed by World Cup champion Spain in a 4-0 loss on home soil. Donovan was out of the lineup due to an illness but is expected to play against Canada.

“I played against Landon Donovan a couple of weeks ago and know what to expect. Played him a couple of times but yeah definitely with the U.S. they have a lot of attacking threats,” said Hainault, who plays regularly for the Houston Dynamo.

“Just the simple things — communicating well, being real strong at the back, make sure positioning is good — that goes a long way. All those little things add up and limit their chances, limit their goals and give us a better chance of winning the game. We know the opposition well that we’re going to be facing. We’re not too worried. We know if we play our game, we know if don’t give up goals or chances we’ll go a long way.”

Looking to Win it All
In the history of the Gold Cup, only three countries have won the biennial CONCACAF tournament. Mexico and the US have dominated by having won five and four titles, respectively. If you did not know, Canada is the only other country to win the Gold Cup when it triumphed in 2000 with a 2-0 victory over Colombia in the final.

After semifinal and quarterfinal exits in the past two Gold Cups, Canadian national team head coach Stephen Hart has assembled a mix of veteran and young players that has the potential to win it all in 2011.

“I think we got a good mix of experience and a good mix of youth,” De Rosario. “I think one thing we’re very fortunate of having is a lot of good players right now, if not all the players are constantly playing at a high level.

“That’s very important, especially for a national team or a national program development going forward is guys not only playing at good clubs but playing. That’s going to help us out tremendously, a lot of experience, even though we have a lot of young guys. Guys here really want to prove a point, some new faces want to prove themselves at the international level and I think we have a healthy mix and a good quality team.”

However, Canada did receive some bad news when it became official that defender Dejan Jakovic was ruled out of the Gold Cup. Jakovic suffered a hamstring injury in Canada’s 2-2 draw with Ecuador in a friendly Wednesday. The defender has returned to his club, D.C. United, where he will continue to be assessed by the club medical staff. David Edgar has replaced Jakovic on the 23-man roster but will not travel with the team unless called upon in an emergency.

It’s not a secret that for everyone on the team, the ultimate goal for Canada is to qualify for the World Cup. However, before the country can take that step it first needs to prove it is one of the best in CONCACAF. With a successful run, Canada can build on positive results when the team begins World Cup qualifying in the fall.

“The team is very eager to play on a stage such as the Gold Cup and prove ourselves and that we belong amongst the best in CONCACAF,” said de Guzman. “A lot of guys are coming from a lot of positive situations with their clubs. This is what we’re here for — to play soccer and help the country progress in the sport. I think we have a lot of guys right now at their peak coming together in one squad.”

Added Hutchinson, “I think we have a good enough team to have a good shot at possibly winning the tournament. That’s the intention and hopefully we can go out there and have good performances and see how far it takes us.”

Canada finds itself in a tough group that also features Panama and Guadeloupe. The challenge lying before Canada is an onerous one, but not impossible. However, if the country is successful in winning the tournament again, it would go a long way for Canada to finally earn some respect within the CONCACAF region.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of disrespect,” said Hart. “I think it’s just a matter of Canada not being in that position recently to push and earn that respect and respect is earned on the field. We’re working hard to do that, we’ve had some good moments in big games and we’re still not there yet, but it’s a work in progress. I think a lot of them are keeping an eye on us as a team that is slowly coming into the fold again, back in CONCACAF.”

In the meantime, the focus is squarely on Tuesday as team sets its collective sights on defeating the U.S.

“We’re going to go out guns blazing, we’re not going to hold anything back,” said a patriotic de Guzman.

“I think we’re excited to play this game against the States to start this tournament off. You couldn’t ask for a better start going into this tournament and this is the type of spark we need when you’re involved in the Gold Cup.”

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