Morgan paying attention to the man out wide. - Bob Levey
Terry Dunfield, Ashtone Morgan, Kyle Bekker, Doneil Henry and Matt Stinson all played for Canada in the two recent games. How did they do?
I'm not one to generally buy into the hype of 'yay, look how many Canadians TFC play, and look how many TFC players play for Canada'. It's a bit of a simplistic stick to beat Whitecaps and Impact fans with, and too much of both aren't really on merit, but hey, stats don't lie and over these 2 games, 5 TFC players got action for Canada. How did they do?
Terry Dunfield: Captained the side in the first game and played 79 minutes, followed by 51 against the US. Played pretty much as you'd expect Dunfield to do, plenty of industrious running and tackling. Set up one of Canada's few chances against Denmark with a ball into the box. His chalkboard says a barely believable 35 successful passes to 2 unsuccessful against the Danes, All in all, a decent couple of performances. If he's ever a national team regular, then we're in trouble, but a dependable depth player, and that's how he played.
Ashtone Morgan: Showed off his attacking ability in the 1st game, working well with Russel Tiebert and putting a couple of decent crosses in. Didn't look good in defence though as Denmark found alll sorts of room down his wing early on. It wasn't as bad against the US, but there were a few times that the right winger had way too much space to be putting a cross in, with Morgan not coming out to block it quickly enough. With a defensively responsible midfielder on the left with him, and in an organised team, his attacking ability can outweigh his defensive issues, a fact that was very cleanly shown in these games.
Doneil Henry: Won his first cap at Right Back against Denmark and it really didn't go well. He's played there for TFC and not looked this bad, remember the CCL game at Dallas where he handily kept Brek Shea quiet? It was a tough assignment to play out of position in an unfamiliar defence, but was beaten too often, and drifted inside way too much. Looked better in the game against the US, helping withstand a lot of pressure in the 2nd half.
Matt Stinson: He exists. After an almost invisible 2012 after a promising 20111, Stinson won his first cap, coming on in the 2nd half against the US. Played at Right Back, allowing Nik Ledgerwood to replace Dunfield in midfield, he was oddly effective in an awkward looking way. Broke up a few attacks, blocked some crosses without really doing much creative going forward. Had one big mistake that led to a US break and good chance, but all in all a decent first game.
Kyle Bekker: The most impressive of these 5, and probably the biggest eye opener from the whole squad. Nowhere near the finished article, he was very much part of the easily overran midfield against Denmark, but showed off a really promising side to his game, which is probably what got him so high up the SuperDraft rankings.
Very impressive in possession, he was calm and composed and rarely gave the ball away. 67 successful passes against Denmark, who to be fair were in cruise control for much of the game, and only 23 against the US. It's not so much about the numbers though as about the passes he made. Though there were very few spectacular passes, the chalkboard shows just one 'key pass', they were simple in a very effective way. Not merely safe passes sideways, but with an ambition and speed of thought that kept moves going and asked questions of the opposition rather than allowing them time to react and regroup.
I can't ever see him being the ultimate creative player that scores plenty of goals or even sets up all that many, but he showed he can be the player that can maintain possession, keep things ticking over, and can get the ball to those players quickly enough that they'll have the space to create. A very promising first 2 games, if anyone showed he could make it into the first team with everyone available, whether now or sometime between now and 2016 when world cup qualifying gets serious again, it's him.