So we begin again, long way to go just to get back to this. - http://www.flickr.com/photos/canadasoccer/
The road to Russia starts now, as Canada get ready to take on 'Denmark' down in Arizona
Well, it's been 3 months and 9 days now since, well since 8-1 and all it meant. All the effort from Stephen Hart, his coaching staff, and all the players who'd played in the last few years. All the effort put in to building the still small but definitely increased media presence by the CSA, Umbro Canada, Sportsnet and others. All the effort from Jamie McLeod and the rest of the Voyageurs to organise support, and by the individual supporters who turned up and brought friends with them, to help build the growing buzz behind the team for home games at Bmo Field.
All that effort, to push that bloody boulder up the hill, further than we'd got it for quite a few years, and then 1 catastrophic game last October 16th and it's right back at the bottom again. The good news is that there seems to be a renewed focus on the long term health of the game, LTPD, better coaching, maybe an all Canadian D2 level league. These are all very important items to focus on, and should eventually help produce a much better quality boulder, one that will roll quite nicely and easily up Concacaf's hill.
That's for the future though, for now it's back to the dirty work. We've had 3 months to kick, curse and spit at that cursed boulder, but such is our fate, this boulder's all we've got to work with, and it's time to start pushing it back up the hill in the futile hope that maybe this time it'll be different.
The CSA's back pushing the youtube videos out there (say, whatever happened to episodes 5-7 of see thee rise?), Sportsnet's giving us a live stream of the game, even Corporate Canada's getting on board, Canadian Tire announced earlier this week as a new partner, though more at the grass roots level. The Voyageurs? Well you can't keep them down, there's a viewing party at the Duke of Gloucester in Toronto, and probably elsewhere through the country as well. Hopefully there'll be friendlies played in Canada before the Gold Cup, or even Gold Cup games played close enough for large numbers of supporters to travel down to. A lot of the newer supporters who gave it a go last year will have been turned away, their suspicions confirmed, by that 8-1 game. It'll take a while to get back to the level of support enjoyed earlier, the hardcore getting together to recharge the batteries a good first step for that.
Mainly though it's about the team, and at least this one doesn't have too much of the 8-1 stink on them. With the European based players mainly left at home, there's only Nik Ledgerwood, Lars Hirschfeld and Tosaint Ricketts from that team in the squad this time, along with a few other older players who didn't play that day such as Dwayne de Rosario and Terry Dunfield. There's plenty of young players hoping to make an impression, many of whom may end up being a large part of the future, of the 2018 WCQ campaign, and the 2022 one which is probably the next realistic chance for success.
That's the main thing we'll be able to take from this game, will the likes of Russel Tiebert, Ashtone Morgan, Kyle Porter or new TFC flavour of the month Kyle Bekker show that they belong at this level, and should be very much in the coaches thoughts for the Gold Cup? Let's face it the result counts for nothing, and it's not like this is properly Denmark anyway, it's a 'Denmark League XI' serving pretty much the same purpose as Canada's team, give some of the fringe players a run out without pissing off the clubs that are actually still playing right now by bringing their players in. That means they also will be very much in pre-season form (well, mid season break form for them I guess) and also have only 4 players from the starting lineup of their last competitive game in their squad, so it should be an even affair, if not perhaps the highest quality.
It's an appropriately small starting point, but kudos should definitely be given to the CSA for arranging this and the game against the US on Tuesday and against Japan in March. The more games they can fit in, the more players they can see, experience they can give to the young players, the better for when it comes to building a squad that can compete in 2016, and not choke when the next equivalent of that Honduras game comes along.
As for supporters, it's a cruel hand we've been dealt, this boulder pushing thing, it's a big long hill, and the boulder's not very good. You might not even like the boulder right now, but it's all we've got, so what choice do we have but to shrug and start pushing again. Russia 2018 here we come, Sisyphus doesn't know how lucky he was.