Canada vs Martinique: Preview/Game Thread

Hey, it's Ashtone Morgan! In actual game action! Yay. - http://www.flickr.com/photos/canadasoccer

The Gold Cup kicks off with a truly marquee opening match. Canada vs Martinique!

Canada vs Martinique
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, 5:30 PM Eastern
Sportsnet World

Well it's finally here, time from a break from the heartbreak and frustration of following TFC and follow Canada which will in no way be more of the same, oh no. Yeah, it's an unimpressive looking squad names wise and the chances of Canada really doing much more than giving us glimpses of hope for the future with a good performance or two are minimal, but hey, it's Canada's only competitive games between now and 2015, so enjoy it while you can, and also, hey, let's count the freshly cap tied youngsters.

That squad? Well, it's top scorer is Simeon Jackson with 6 goals, and there's 4 TFC players in it, two of which aren't remotely close to TFC's first team right now, so that tells you all you need to know. Want to know more, well here's some highlights of them tying their warm-up match 1-1, against Ventura County Fusion SC. Yeah

So let's all keep those expectation bars low.

Fortunately the qualification bar is also low. While Mexico and Panama are the obvious favourites to make it out of the group in the automatic qualification spots, 2 out of 3 of the third place finishers also qualify, so it's gonna be pretty hard for Colin Miller's team to not make it to the quarter final.

The key to that will be getting a result today against Martinique. Marti-bloody-nique. Not even a properly recognised Fifa member. Can't take opponents lightly, no easy games in international football, yada, yada, yada, but really if they can't win here then they won't qualify and won't deserve too.

I'd expect Canada to dominate the game, but as always, actually taking that last step to break down the opponent and actually score some goals will prove tough. The defence, though alarmingly thin, more so after the withdrawl of Nana Attakora from the squad and probably in trouble in the other games should have no problems today at least. Going forward, well Will Johnson and Russell Tiebert have been in great form for their clubs, while Simeon Jackson and Julian de Guzman will presumably be looking to use this tournament as a wau to impress some club coaches to sign them up. Then of course there's the new manager, Benito Floro. He's not in charge for this tournament, but hopefully having a definite person to impress, rather than just a series of interim managers will lead to better performances than we've generally seen so far this year. There are straws to clutch at, reasons to hope and believe, to try and convince yourself that they might surprise.

For all of our coverage, check out our Gold Cup hub here, or check out James' look at Canada's MLS based players (here's part 3, it contains links to parts one and two, I'm lazy) as part of Canadian Soccer News' very thorough coverage. Sportsnet as broadcasters of the event are of course also all over this with lots of good stuff.

Anyway, we'll be here for the usual commentary/nonsense/fatalism before and throughout the game. Join us.

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