Well then. It was clear when the squad came out that Canada shouldn't have expectations of anything beyond scraping 3rd in the group and hoping for an honourable quarter final exit, with several newly cap tied players in their back pocket. Mexico and Panama would both be tough games obviously, but they should be able to get 3 points against Martinique which would hopefully be enough to be one of the best 3rd place teams and qualify. Martinique, as we were reminded several times through the broadcast, first of all by La Marseillaise ringing out instead of their own national anthem, aren't even a nation, they're a 'department' of France, an island of about 400,000 people. Not even a member of FIFA, but a member of Concacaf and thus allowed to enter this competition. I wasn't expecting plenty of goals, but surely they could control the game and somehow break them down and get an uglyish 1-0 win. Surely they can do at least that.
That's how it played out to start off with, Canada in control, Martinique looking as if they were playing for a hard fought draw. Canada didn't really look dangerous, Russell Tiebert seemed to be toying with the Martinique right back, Zaire, but there wasn't really an end product to speak of. The best early chance came from a corner, Marcus Haber forcing a smart, if not massively difficult save with a low header to the goalies left.
The midfield looked a bit toothless, Will Johnson had fallen sick the night before and almost didn't play (Gerry Dobson initially tweeted out a team that had Kyle Bekker in instead.) and really he looked like a sick shadow of the play we've seen so far this season for Portland, he didn't start the second half. If Johnson had an excuse, the rest of the midfield wasn't really doing better, Samuel Piette in particular looking lacklustre.
The defence looked shaky and somewhat understandably I suppose unfamiliar with each other, Doneil Henry was an adventure throughout the game. Behind them, Milan Borjan looked all over the place when dealing with crosses. Nothing was inspiring confidence.
Then, maybe about halfway through the first half, it's like Martinique realised all this, that they had absolutely nothing to fear, so why not go for it, this could be their chance to get a win and maybe sneak into the quarter finals. For the rest of the game, they played inspired football, taking it to Canada. Borjan had to make the best saves in the first half, but surely Colin Miller would adjust and Canada could come out and take control of the second.
Nope, Simeon Jackson was the player that came on for Will Johnson but this wasn't a switch to 4-4-2 or anything like that, he moved to the left, with Russell Tiebert switching into the middle. Martinique picked up where they left off and forced two very good saves in the first 5 minutes of the second, Milan Borjan was at least all of a sudden looking a lot sharper and kept Canada in the game.
There was just so much more life from Martinique, though often a lack of quality and composure as there were a lot of long shots taken, most of them off the target. There were some nice defence splitting passes though and plenty of problems caused throughout the second half.
Jonathan Osorio was subbed on late (the 85th minute, probably annoying Ryan Nelsen even more, he had to give him up for that? Bekker and Morgan didn't even play) officially cap tying him, but Canada's last sub went unused for some reason, Kevin Aleman not introduced at all. It looked like it was going to end in a 0-0 disappointment, but then Martinique got a corner in injury time.
It was defended in a fashion any TFC fan would recognise, scrambly and panicked, but eventually half cleared, to Fabrice Reuperne about 25 yards out. Unmarked, he absolutely hammered it home, a rocket into the top corner giving Borjan no chance and Martinique went crazy. It was pretty much the last kick of the game and there was some real celebrating, the coach running happily along the touchline, the players doing a lap of honour to an appreciative crowd of Mexican fans awaiting the day's second game. I embedded it at the bottom of this report, the goal deserves to be seen and the celebrations make me smile.
It's hard not to be happy for them despite who they beat. It's not just that they're a small underdog team, but it's how they played. Unlike Canada, they looked like they cared, like they wanted it. They went for it and totally deserved the result, they outshot Canada by a huge margin, and though many were wild, Borjan was by far the busier goalie.
It was a totally deserved result for both teams and for Canada, you've got to say that's tournament over, no plucky and honourable exit to a better team for them, just a straight up embarrassment. I could be wrong, Canada's certainly had poor games against the bad teams and good games against good teams before, it's possible they can get some kind of result against Panama or Mexico to save face. It certainly doesn't look possible though, and some bright moments from Tiebert aside, there was precious little to give hope for the future which is the main purpose of this tournament.
The phrase 'Rock Bottom' was thrown around by a few people on twitter, I'd hope that it is, but you never know with Canada. If Benito Floro didn't know the size of the job ahead, well he does now.