Canada vs. Jamaica
Red Bull Arena, 9:15 Eastern
The long dreaded, yet secretly anticipated, day is here: the Canadian Men's National Team is set to face off against FIFA's third ranked team, Colombia. They aren't really the third best team in the world, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Brazil and maybe even Italy are arguable better. But that hardly diminishes a side who were a penalty shootout away from the World Cup semifinals in Brazil.
They were able to accomplish all of this without Radamel Falcao, the Manchester United striker who is amongst the World's best. Falcao will likely draw into the lineup for this one and is fresh off scoring just seven minutes into his first start for the Colombians in almost a year. That goal came against El Salvador on Saturday, a match that finish 3-0 for Colombia. James Rodriguez is also expected to play against Canada. The Real Madrid midfielder was the recipient of the Golden Boot for tournament leading scorer at the World Cup, and picked up most of the slack left by the injury to his aforementioned teammate.
Canada come into this game with a far less accomplished side, largely made up of players under 25. It was a bold move by Canadian manager Benito Floro to name such a young roster, however it is one that will likely pay off in experience. Getting to play against one of the World's top sides is not something that happens everyday, and the lessons that come with it can be invaluable.
It will be the experienced players, though, that will be relied upon if Canada is to get any sort of result out of this match. Tosaint Ricketts hasn't always been the most reliable striker for the National Team, but neither has anyone else. He never fails to show up and give a solid effort, but will need to do a lot more than that as the team's lone attacking option. As the most experienced player on the roster, Julian De Guzman will also need to have his best performance in a Canadian uniform in some time. This is especially true consider Atiba Hutchinson's absence. At the back, David Edgar will be charged with leading a backline that will be under siege all match long.
As mentioned above, this is Benito Floro's biggest test as Canada's manager, and also his chance to demonstrate his worth. Until September, confidence going into this match would be slim to none. But something seemed to change, if ever so slightly, after an inspiring 3-1 home victory against Jamaica at BMO Field. If Floro can have his team play with the level of organization and discipline in that one, albeit far more defensive minded, they may actually have a shot at keeping this close.
Here is Canada Soccer's preview of the game, courtesy of Gavin Day. Note that pretty awesome new intro.
Having any sort of hope of a result going into this one may be misguided, but the team seem to have more than in recent memory. That in itself should be an indication that this team is heading in the right direction.
If the team can somehow, in some way, pull a result out of this one it will be the country's biggest in many, many years.
For more on this game, check of Waking The Red's interview with FC Edmonton's Hanson Boakai. For a longer preview of the match why not check out Steve Bottjer's work over at Red Nation Online. A couple of good interviews in this piece as well.
Otherwise, enjoy the match. As very few of us could make it out to New York, why not at least cheer on Canada below in the comments section.