It was teed up to be a rout, and in a sense it was. Sort of. We recap tonight's Canada-Cuba match, featuring our famous segment, Golden Trophies/Slaps to the Head
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Humidity is rising, barometer's getting low.
According to all sources, the street's the place to go!
Cause tonight for the first time, just about half-past ten
For the first time in history, it's gonna start raining men!
- "It's Raining Men", The Weather Girls
You'd think that playing a team that is barely able to field 11 players, you'd be able to get more than 3 goals...right? If you're Canada, you'd be wrong. It took a full 90 minute effort, but Canada got the result it needed with a 3-0 win over the severely depleted and already eliminated Cubans.
The amount of effort needed to break down the Cubans was almost hilarious at times, and Canada's forwards definitely made Cuban goalkeeper Odelin Molina look really good. And to add to the farce, referee Javier Santos threw in a pair of red cards for slight fouls. But when they actually needed to get the goals, they did.
Canada opened the match in fine fettle, with Olivier Occean almost opening the scoring less than five minutes in. It would be another 9 minutes of fruitless knocking before Tosaint Ricketts eased Canadian nerves with his third goal of the qualifying campaign. What followed was a myriad of chances missed, including 13 corners -- all of which barely threatened the Cuban goal.
The visitors even got a shot on goal away early in the second half, barely missing Lars Hirschfeld's goal. There were the sporadic attacks, but for vast periods of the match the Canadian midfield was able to contain it. They were of course guilty of some bad giveaways, but Cuban shorthandedness did not allow them to take advantage of them. Johnson's goal in the 72nd minute, followed by Edgar's wonderstrike six minutes later sealed the deal, but they were too far and few in between, given the number of chances Canada got.
Olivier Occean and Simeon Jackson were the biggest culprits of that, both of which were kept off the scoresheet entirely, except for Occean's questionable red card, of which he is accused of shoving the Cuban goal keeper. Replays showed that Occean had made absolutely no contact, and that Molina (who got away without even a warning) was not willing to give up the ball. Even if there was contact between him and Occean, it certainly didn't warrant a red card.
The greatest crime from this game committed by Canada in this game was simply not taking their chance seriously -- Julian de Guzman was wide open, and had time and room to shoot late into the second half, but elected not to shoot. This was a recurring theme, with chances not taken. Many of the strikers simply tried to be too cute, and didn't really try to rattle the defense. In Honduras, chances will be much harder to come by, and Canada's wastefulness can and wll hurt them.
To their credit, captain Kevin McKenna did admit in post-game interviews that they should have ran up the score a lot higher. Given the fact that goal difference is a likely factor in determining who will head off to the Hex, Canada definitely missed a huge opportunity to give themselves an advantage there.
But as we look forward to next week, one can be forgiven if they feel a bit sorry for the Cubans, who left the island with 15 or 16 players, and arrived in Toronto with enough just to fill a starting eleven. Sorry or not, it was still a farcical beginning to what promised to be a rain of goals -- and all we got was a small teaspoon of snow flurries. Or in the spirit of our title, it'd only be raining action figures. The finishing needs to be drastically improved, and perhaps whomever will serve as Occean's replacement we can hope will do so.
So now Tuesday's match has everything to play for. Can we expect Canada to rain goals again? Judging from tonight, that's perhap one forecast that isn't safe to make.
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WAKING THE RED'S GOLDEN TROPHIES/SLAPS TO THE HEAD
A golden trophy for...Will Johnson. A goal when Canada needed it. Well played.
A slap to the head for...Simeon Jackson. Seriously couldn't hit the side of a barn tonight.
A golden trophy for...David Edgar. Whaddastrike!
A slap to the head for...Julian de Guzman. Shoot, dammit.
A golden trophy for...Ante Jazic. Two assists, tonight's unsung hero. Solid game.
A slap to the head for...Javier Santos. Another CONCACAF hack handing out hack red cards.
And last but not least, a golden trophy for...Odelin Molina. Without him, Cuba would've been wrecked.
WTR will once again have LIVE text commentary Tuesday night for the Honduras match, starting at 3:45pm ET -- please do join us then!