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Preview/Game Thread. Canada v Ecuador

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Canada v Ecuador

National Soccer Stadium, 7pm E.D.T

Sportsnet

So we finally get a break from the twice a week TFC related torture, and get a delightful change of pace as Ecuador come to town to play Canada.  The above video is a magnificent piece of kitsch that I’d call nostalgia if I’d been Canadian at the time to appreciate it, from when Canada last qualified for the World Cup.  That’s the real goal here, tonight is ostensibly a meaningless friendly, a warm up for the soon to start Gold Cup, but really it’s another step on the path of Mission 2014, finally qualifying for the World Cup again.  Whether it’s by improving our world ranking, or stumbling across a starting lineup that really works, tonight could be the start of something big.

Given that this is the only game Canada has before their Gold Cup starts with a grudge match in Detroit against the big bad USA, I’d expect to see a first choice lineup from Canada, which won’t be the case with Ecuador, for whom this is one of a few warm up matches so they’ll be resting some players and experimenting with others.  

It’s difficult to know exactly what Canada’s first choice XI is as it’s rare that the whole squad gets together for friendlies.  Up front, will it be Rob Friend or Ali Gerba as the spearhead of the attack in Stephen Hart’s usual 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation?  I’d expect Simeon Jackson, Josh Simpson, Atiba Hutchinson and Will Johnson to take up 4 of the 5 midfield spots, with the remaining place to be taken by either Julian de Guzman or Dwayne De Rosario, but maybe will find a way to fit both of them in there, or neither, I’d be lying if I offered anything more than a guess..

Talking of De Ro, that’s another talking point for the game, what sort of reception will he get in his first return to ‘Bmo Field’ since his acrimonious exit from Toronto FC.  I’d like to think any TFC fans going to the game who are angry at him would be good enough to save their vitriol until he returns with New York, and will instead treat him the same as any other Canada player tonight.  The same goes for Joao Plata, but the other way round.  If he does play a part in the game, hopefully he isn’t welcomed as a hero or treated any differently than any other Ecuador player.

The other issue of course whenever Canada plays at home is that of the crowd, and just what percentage of it will be cheering for Canada as opposed to Ecuador.  I’d hazard a guess at 2 to 1 in favour of Ecuador, but hopefully it’s better than that.

Anyway, whatever happens, it’s good to have that ‘special event’ feeling back, which I’d say I’ve felt twice for TFC this year, the home opener and then last week’s 'didn’t actually happen' Voyageurs Cup final.  I’ll be at the game with my blackberry so will have lineups and half time and full time updates here for you.  If you want a more responsive chat, join Benjamin Massey over at EightySix Forever.

Allez les Rouges!