So Canada finally have a 'dubious' refereeing decision at the death go in their favour, I'm not going to pretend it doesn't amuse me, and hey they've certainly earned it over the years. Much like Ecuador's last minute defending, this 'report' is going to be pretty shabby, as I only have my memories from what ended up being a pretty drunken night in section 113 to go on, with no pvr'd game to rewatch and rewind. So here's some random thoughts about the game, enjoy.
Firstly the crowd, which was a bit on the disappointing side as far as the size goes. I'm not going to bitch at those who turned up to support Ecuador. Toronto and the wider Canadian and American areas they came from probably don't give many opportunities to celebrate their Ecuadorianness or watch their team live so it doesn't shock me at all that they would seize the opportunity to do just that. But where were the Canada supporters? It's not like Ecuador bought up the whole stadium, there were plenty of empty seats that if filled, could have given Canada a home field advantage, or at the very least made it 50/50..
Having said that, well done to all that did go to the game, especially those in the South East corner. Though concentrating the hardcore support in one area does give it a bit of an 'away game' feel, that area is a great place to be, and really makes me want to make the foolish decision to go Detroit for Canada's first Gold Cup game on Tuesday. I'll put a link to a great set of photos at the end of this. I can't imagine anyone who was there would not want to go back, hopefully more people will be persuaded to join them the next time Canada's in town and things will grow from there.
In other extraneous stuff, well done to Umbro Canada for having plenty of (reasonably priced) new jerseys and other merchandise available at the ground.
As for the game, I'll first of all say it was a real treat to see a team in red that looked like it knew what it was doing, and 2-2 is a very respectable result against Ecuador.
Atiba Hutchinson and Josh Simpson are very good players, they both really stood out for me on the night as being a level above the rest of the team skill wise. Terry Dunfield had a very good first 45 minutes, even aside from the fantastic goal and even better celebration he was a force out there, and looked much better than Julian De Guzman, who replaced him for the second half. His obvious desire and excitement to play for Canada is very appealing as well.
Hopefully Dejan Jakovic isn't seriously hurt, as I thought he and Kevin McKenna had great games in the centre of defence. Canada looked a bit disorganised at the back, which is to be expected without much time to train together and to be fair Ecuador have some very good attackers, but there were a lot of very good last ditch tackles, blocks and interceptions from Jakovic and McKenna to save the day.
When they couldn't do that, goalie Milan Borjan was usually there to make the stop. I love this guy. He chose to play for Canada rather than chase a spot in the Serbian team as a way of saying thank youto the country that rescued his family from war back in the 90's, and he seems very enthusiastic about it. In injury time, when Canada won a free kick on the edge of the area, he turned to the South East corner, waving his arms to exhort the fans into one last big cheer to urge on the team. It was him doing that that caused me to be as distracted as the Ecuador defence and miss the goal. His celebrations after the equaliser were also great, that attitude together with the stops he made meanhe's up there with Dunfield as my new favourite Canadian player.
Simeon jackson as the main striker up front didn't really work out. He's clearly a very talented player, but winning balls, especially in the air, and holding play up for others isn't really his strongpoint. There really is no-one perfect for that lone striker role, Rob Friend has his talents, but unfortunately goal scoring for Canada isn't one of them. Finding a formation to be able to fit in the talented forwards/midfielders Canada has is going to be a big test for Stephen Hart. Hopefully over the Gold Cup training camp they'll come up with something that works, but I don't think Jackson up front is the answer.
Overall though it's another postive result to go with those against Belarus, Ukraine and Honduras over the last year. Canada has a lot of talent, especially up front, if they can figure out how to make it all click consistently, they could very well surprise some people at the Gold Cup.
Here's those photos I talked about, from Paul Giamou via the Voyageurs forum. Really get the atmosphere and emotion of the Candian supporters sections.