Canada v St. Kitts and Nevis: The Last Hurrah!

Patrice Bernier will almost certainly make his long awaited return to the Canadian National team this week in the final match of round 2. (via canadasoccer)

Canada has moved on, maybe not in the most convincing fashion, and now with one game to spare they should be going out to put on a show for the fans.  Keaton has you covered with all the interviews from training this week and it is clear that the players remain focused on getting a result in their final match.  It is also clear that they players want to put on a show for the fans at BMO Field who have been there for them this year.  This is their last chance to play a good at match at BMO having failed to send the crowd home completely happy the last two times out.  The 4-1 victory over St. Lucia was nice but was not nearly the performance fans had been hoping for, and then the 0-0 draw with Puerto Rico was a match that most fans tried to forget quickly.  So this is the one last chance for the players to impress the coach and leave the fans satisfied through the long winter months without games.

Hart has been frequently suggesting that he plans on doing a fair bit of roster rotation and giving some new faces a chance to play.  Chances are that means that Canada will be giving Ashtone Morgan his first start which will surely be greeted by a warm reception from the BMO  faithful.  Fans will also be hope to see Nana Attakora, the former TFC defender, play at BMO once again.  The rest of the roster speculation and what I will be looking for in this game after the jump.

As I have already said this game is the last chance for the Canadian National team to impress the home crowd.  This year was supposed to be all about improving the team, building chemistry, growing the fan base, and creative a positive feeling around the team.  So far, despite advancing to the third round of qualifying, the team does not seem to have done any of that.  The traditional roller coaster ride that is being a CMNT supporter continues, the team is not that much better than they were at the Gold Cup, not all that many new faces have been capped, and despite better attendance at BMO there is still someways to go in that regard.  So this is the last chance to fix all of that and that is what I will be looking for the team to set out and do on Tuesday night.

Having already advanced, there should be little pressure left on the players who need to view this game as their chance to impress the coach and put on a show.  That seems to be their attitude based on Keaton's reports from training which is a good thing.  The team will need to remain focussed but that little extra bit of looseness could help them perform better.  The focus will be needed since even though this game means nothing for St. Kitts and Nevis they still have their pride and will also be looking to end their already impressive campaign on a good note.  For the tiny island nation remaining in the race for top spot for 5 of the 6 matches was already an impressive accomplishment.

For Canada a convincing win in this game might just put a bit of sugar coating on an otherwise less than incredible run through the group.  For the serious fans a win would do very little to hide the flaws that continue to show in the side but it would at least give us a positive feeling.  Canadian fans are a traditionally manic-depressive type group and can often judge the team based on the most recent impression of the team.  I am not saying that fans will forget all the other games of this group stage but a win this week would help create a whole lot of positivity and much better headlines.  The two draws in a row have done nothing but damage the good feelings around the team so just bringing back some of them would really help.  The months between this game and June when the fourth round kicks off will be crucial for the CSA to use to get things in order for that round.  That will involve selecting venues, promoting the games, and possibly evaluating the coaching staff and players that they currently have in place.

Hart will need to send a clear message with this match and in the back of his mind he might even be thinking that his job might be in trouble if he does not find a way to get the team to perform up to its potential.  It is unlikely that the CSA will want to rock the boat and relieve Hart of his duties this winter but if things don't go well at BMO tomorrow then the whispers among fans calling for his head will only begin to grow in number and volume. 

Now what do I expect for the lineup?  Well I expect a fair bit of changes to take place which means we should see plenty of Patrice Bernier, Ashtone Morgan, and Nana Attakora who have either not played this cycle or in the case of Morgan have only played a handful of minutes.  They should be joined by hopefully some of the younger faces in Simeon Jackson, Tosaint Ricketts, Will Johnson, David Edgar, Adam Straith, and Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault.  Then to round out the lineup why not throw Dwayne De Rosario out there in hopes that he is finally able to bag the Canadian Men's goal scoring record.  That will leave Canada with a very strong bench just in case they need to mix things up  .De Ro currently needs one goal to draw level with Dale Mitchell for the record and is two goals away from having the record all to himself.  De Ro has been basically a non-factor in this round so if anyone has to prove himself to the fans it is him, but despite that it seems that he has nothing to prove to Hart who continues to put him out there and even give him the captains arm band.  

For me anything less then a dominant win will be a hollow performance in this game.  I am not saying I expect the team to win to the tune of 7-0 like they did in St. Lucia but I do hope to see them control the ball, pass and move well, and be a bit more clinical in front of goal.  If they can do that it will keep the fans happy, singing and jumping which should at least help with the potential cold.

Hope to see you all there!

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