Photo courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/canadasoccer/
The two biggest games in a long long time for Canada. Here's the players who'll be trying to enable all Canadians to discover the joy of Hex.
So, here they are. The 21 players that are charged with the task of beating up Cuba, then somehow someway doing what needs to be done in Honduras. There's not a massive amount of surprises in the squad Stephen Hart announced today. As John Molinaro reported yesterday, there were only two changes to the squad that played in September, and given that Iain Hume and Milan Borjan basically let slip Hume's inclusion on twitter yesterday, ostensibly in place of Dwayne de Rosario, the only suspense lay in the reveal of Mike Klukowski, replacing TFC's Ashtone Morgan in the lineup, which looks like it's all about getting some more experience in the squad for that Honduras game, a fact Stephen Hart confirmed in his conference call with reporters this afternoon.
It's a good choice to go with more or less the same players who've got the team this far, to the point where no matter what happens next Friday, Canada will go into Honduras with their fate in their own hands. Lars Hirschfeld and the defence that has helped keep 3 clean sheets in 4 games should all be back out there again, thought Hart did also acknowledge Milan Borjan's recent fine club form to suggest the goalie position is still up for grabs. There'll also be interesting choices in midfield and up front, first of all exactly who'll replace de Rosario in the starting lineup, where Hume and Marcel de Jong seem the obvious choices, not that Hart was giving away any kind of plans there.
It could get worse up front as Hart was in no way definitive about Olivier Occean's readiness as he returns to fitness, with his participation in his club's game this weekend still very much up in the air. Tosaint Ricketts of course has still not played this season due to his complicated and seemingly never ending contract problems from his time in Romania.
Hart is very much focused on the Cuba game first of all, in no way taking it for granted. He noted that Cuba had played well in both Honduras and Panama, playing with 2 strikers and an attacking midfielder and were unlucky not to get points there. He also quashed suggestions he'd rest players to avoid potential yellow card accumulation suspensions for the Honduras game
So, here are your potential heroes. Now, let's hope no-one gets injured this weekend.
1- GK- Lars Hirschfeld | NOR / Vålerenga Fotball
2- M- Nik Ledgerwood | SWE / Hammarby Fotboll
3- FB- Mike Klukowski | CYP / APOEL
4- CB- Kevin McKenna | GER / FC Köln
5- CB- André Hainault | USA / Houston Dynamo
6- M - Julian de Guzman | USA / FC Dallas
7- F- Iain Hume | ENG / Doncaster Rovers
8- M- Will Johnson | USA / Real Salt Lake
9- F- Tosaint Ricketts | NOR / Vålerenga Fotball
10- F- Simeon Jackson | ENG / Norwich City FC
11- FB- Marcel de Jong | GER / FC Augsburg
12- CB- Dejan Jaković | USA / D.C. United
13- M- Atiba Hutchinson | NED / PSV Eindhoven
14- M - Terry Dunfield | CAN / Toronto FC
15- CB- David Edgar | ENG / Burnley FC
16- M- Pedro Pacheco | POR / CD Santa Clara
17- F- Olivier Occean | GER / Eintracht Frankfurt
18- GK- Milan Borjan | TUR / Sivasspor
19- FB- Ante Jazić | USA / Chivas USA
20- M - Patrice Bernier | CAN / Impact Montréal
22- GK- Kenny Stamatopoulos | SWE / AIK Fotbol