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Missed Opportunities Put Canadian Men's Soccer in Difficult Position at Pan Ams

With a 0-0 draw against Panama, Canada showed that the programs future may be bright, but they still have difficulties scoring.

Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

It was a wild, wide open affair, but in the end neither Canada nor Panama could put a ball in the back of the net as they finished with a 0-0 draw at the Pan Am Games last night.

Both teams will come out disappointed that they could not have collected two extra points which would have been massive for both sides.

For Canada it is a continuation of a nightmare for Canadian soccer as the program has had unfavourable results in three straight days. First it was the senior men's squad being eliminated from the Gold Cup, now both the men's and women's Pan Am teams have their backs to the wall.

"We are a little bit sad because we couldn't score and the team I think deserved the victory," said coach Antonio Floro after match which he says as a missed opportunity. "I think it's a bad result because [we depend on another game]. But still alive."

The game that Canada now depend on is Panama against the mighty Brazil, who have scored eight goals so far this competition and have only conceded one. That came from Toronto FC II's Mo Babouli in the tournament opener.

Canada need a Brazilian victory to stay alive, and preferably one by multiple goals. There are four goals currently separating Canada and Panama, which the former will need to overcome in order to advance.

That is going to be incredibly difficult, and is the reason why, like the women's team, Canada's men will go into their final match day hoping for a miracle to reach the medal rounds.

It would have been a lot easier to score one of the many chances they had tonight. There were three or four times that Canada created superb chances, but could get none of them beyond the Panama keeper.

"The positive that I take from it is that we are creating those opportunities," explained Canadian striker Ben Fisk after the match. "I think the ball just isn't bouncing our way a little bit but we just have to keep shooting and getting ourselves in those positions and the goals will come."

Fisk had one of those golden opportunities early in the game after getting beyond the defense and putting the ball through the legs of the Panama keeper, but his shot went off the woodwork. It was perhaps Canada's best chance of the game.

"To be honest when I hit that I thought it was in," he said after the match. "Looking at the replay I think it was just too tight of an angle to get it in. I was actually really upset about that one so early in the game."

The positive for Canada is that their final group game is against a Peru team who have yet to win a game at the Pan Ams, and were eliminated by tonight's result. However, Floro isn't expecting Peru to roll over, as they will want a result to salvage their tournament.

Another bit of good news is that there have been a couple of standout performances from Canadians so far this tournament who are making a strong case to be included in the Olympic team.

Manjrekar James has been very strong at centreback for Canada and has been a leader throughout this tournament. Beside him Jonathan Grant has been superb at fullback, especially in this match against Panama.

Meanwhile Hanson Boakai was named player of the game in last night's match, and might be Canada's player of the tournament so far. On the right wing he has created all sorts of opportunities and has been challenging for every defender, or often times defenders, that he has faced so far.

Canada's attack in general has been fairly strong as well. Combinations of Babouli, Fisk, Boakai, Caleb Clarke and Toronto FC II's Raheem Edwards have looked dangerous throughout the tournament. While the finished product hasn't been there yet, but of the buildup work is incredibly promising.

Canada will need all of these players and more to give everything they have if they want to get a result against Peru and move on to the medal round. But after the way they played tonight the players are far from giving up hope. For attackers like Fisk, they know they just have to stay confident.

"Just train hard and stay positive," said Fisk of what Canada's attackers need to do ahead of next match. "I think the problem with lots of strikers is that if they are not scoring they get down on themselves. [But] if I'm playing next game I think I'll put one in the back of the net."