The Canadian Men's National Team has already played four friendlies in 2013 and though the results have not been the best it is good to see the program keeping busy despite not taking part in the Hex. They have had some high caliber opposition in those first four games but now they are shifting their focus towards CONCACAF and this summer's Gold Cup.
Canada will head to Edmonton to take on Costa Rica in a friendly match on May 28th as part of their Gold Cup preparations. It will be another good challenge for Canada as they take on a squad that will be using the match to build towards their next round of World Cup qualifying matches. Costa Rica already have four points on the board from their first three matches of the Hex and are in position to qualify for the World Cup but have a long way to go before making that a reality.
The last time these two sides met was during the 2009 Gold Cup which ended in a 2-2 draw. Canada has a history of struggling against Costa Rica though having only managed to claim 4 wins in 18 official matches while Costa Rica have totaled 7 victories.
The men's national team heading back to the Western half of the country really is the big storyline in this friendly. It is no secret that the team has been spending all of its time in Toronto in recent years which has left the rest of the country complaining about games not being shared around.
In fact, Canada has not played a match on home soil outside of Toronto since September 7, 2010 when they played against Honduras in Montreal. You would have to go all the way back to 2008 for the last time that the team played a competitive match outside of Toronto and that was when the 2010 World Cup Qualifying campaign was being shared around the country.
Edmonton will now have the chance to backup all of the talk that has come from out west about how they deserve games and how they could draw bigger crowds than were seen in Toronto the past two years. With the game taking place at Commonwealth Stadium which holds over 60,000 fans they certainly have a lot of seats to sell if they want to make their point.
Canada's last match in Edmonton was a memorable one as the hosts came away with an entertaining 2-2 draw against Mexico in what was sadly a meaningless match late in 2010 World Cup Qualifying. Canada only picked up two points in their six matches and finished rock bottom of their group despite Ali Gerba and Tomasz Radzinski scoring against Mexico.
It will be interesting to see how Canada looks come the end of May. Will the team have a full-time head coach in place by the time of this friendly? Will fans in Edmonton see another young, North American based squad or will the veterans expected to play in the Gold Cup make up the bulk of the squad?
Chances are it will end up being a more balanced side than we saw in the January camp as Canada will want to use the match to look at players who are expected to compete for spots on the Gold Cup roster and contribute this summer rather than looking at players who could be options in the longer term.
The match will take place on an artificial surface at Commonwealth Stadium which may be good preparation for Canada heading into the Gold Cup where they could be forced to deal with a wide variety of playing surfaces.