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"Unlucky" Canadians Booted from Men's Pan Am Soccer

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Missed chances and weird bounces conspired for yet another tournament in which the Canadian men's national team bowed out in the group stage.

Canada Soccer

For the Canadian Men's Pan Am Soccer team their day started as a nightmare, then it got worse. Already eliminated from the medal round by an inexplicable 3-3 draw between Brazil and Panama, Canada played their worst game of the tournament in a 2-0 loss to Peru.

"We were watching the Brazil game and it's unfortunate, they were up three nothing and we thought we were in a good position," said Canadian captain Chris Mannella. "It's heartbreaking, especially with the miss at the end from Brazil but there's nothing we can do, it's no longer in our hands and we just had to play our game."

Canada really seemed to take their elimination to heart, as just 12 minutes into the game they were down 1-0 on a freekick goal. From there the team struggled to create the same caliber of chances they had in the first two matches.

The team's only spell of true quality play came after the introduction of Keven Aleman who inexplicably only got 20 minutes to prove his ability at the tournament. Earlier in the week Floro said this was because he had better players for that spot, but not playing him more seems like a major mistake.

When they finally got those opportunities, as the Canadians put on an onslaught with the game seemingly beyond reach at 2-0, they couldn't finish them. Caleb Clarke missed a tap in while Jackson Farmer and Manjrekar James hit the crossbar and post respectively on two late game headers.

"You look at the last five minutes, we hit the post how many times? It's just unbelievable," said goalkeeper Ricky Gomes of his team's inability to finish. "I think right now it just wasn't meant to be, that's why we can't really be too hard on ourselves."

This quickly became a theme for the Canadian men's tournament: they could create chances like few Canadian squads before them, but didn't have the quality in the final third to make them translate to the scoreboard.

For Canadian coach Antonio Floro, the team's ability to create chances underlines why this tournament was still a good indicator of the offensive talent his squad possesses.

"More positive things than negatives," said Floro of what he takes away from the Pan Am Games. "Because the negative thing for me was only the lack of luck we had. Because in the last two games we had many opportunities to score."

While Mannella agrees with his coach to some degree about the team's lack of luck, he understands that just creating chances isn't good enough if the team wants to accomplish its ultimate goal of qualifying for the Olympic Games in October.

"It's just about making the ball hit the mesh," said of what the team needs to do in three months' time. "We've created the chances in this tournament and everyone saw it, now it's just time to get the end product."

Besides a lack of finishing, another issue that Canada faced in this tournament was a lack of time together to prepare. At some points it was evident that the team wasn't as cohesive as they needed to be, but they are happy with how they came together on such short notice.

"Antonio didn't have too much time with us but he did his best," said Mannella. "He taught us a system as well as he could. I thought the guys understood it for the time we had and now just going into Olympic qualifying hopefully we have a bit more time together."

That opportunity will come, as Floro confirmed after the match that Canada will have a pre-Olympic qualifying camp in September, 10 days before the competition kicks off on October 1.

This tournament proved that Canada will have plenty to work on in that camp. Even if there were positives, maybe even more than negatives as Floro said, this effort likely wouldn't have been good enough to get to an Olympic games.

"It shows what we are it shows what we've got to improve on," said Mannella of his takeaways from this tournament. "We just have to improve on all aspects of the game on and off the field and on and off the ball."