CanMNT vs Belize Leg 1: Match Report

Result and details of the Friday September 4, 2015 World Cup Qualifier between Canada and Belize
played at BMO Field in Toronto at 7:30pm.

24 min…Canada Tosaint Ricketts GOAL…Can Marcel De Jong rolls ball forward on left from 35 yard
line to Can Issey Nakajima-Farran who continues down left and stops at 15 yard line and backheels
ball forward to charging De Jong who crosses in from 20 yards on left end line after almost
losing it.  Can Cyle Larin leaps and heads ball from 8 yards up middle that flying goalie
Woodrow West knocks down.   Can Samuel Piette jabs at ball at 3 yards and ball is blocked
by prone goalie.  Goalie falls to smother it but Can Ricketts gets leg around protecting Belize
defender Trevor Lennen to jab 1 yard shot over line into right side of net.

64 min…Canada Tosaint Ricketts GOAL…Can Nik Ledgerwood crosses in from 28 yards on right
around jumping Belize Keith Alllen at 20 yards.  Can Will Johnson misses low diving header
at 6 yards on right side but Ricketts is behind him to tip in 6 yarder with kick from even
with right post into left side of net.

90 min…Canada Atiba Hutchinson GOAL…Can Russell Teibert rolls cross from 15 yards on right
across along 6 yard box and David Edgar covered by Belize Highking Roberts on right post lets
ball go past him and Hutchinson charging forward in center of box jabs in 4 yarder with goalie
trapped on right post.

Final Score:…..Canada…..3…….Belize…….0

Attendance was announced as 10412.  Now that is just plain bad!  Promoters were so desparate
in the last week that they offered 2 for 1 tickets.  With the Canadian National Exhibition
taking place on the surrounding grounds I’d think there’d be a run on tickets by people
beating the $18 admission price to the CNE and then not showing up for the soccer game.
The Gold Cup game drew 16000+ but that included opponents Costa Rica and another game between
Jamaica and El Salvador mixed in on that day.   I don’t think having a token Toronto FC player
like Ashtone Morgan or Jonathan Osorio would have improved the attendance numbers (although
they are both good players that would have fit into the team well).

Before the game Dwayne DeRosario was presented with a plaque to commemorate his long service
to Canada.  Team captain Julian de Guzman who has almost served as long played only 13 minutes
before being subbed because of a calf injury.

This game was dominated by Canada outshooting the visitors 12-1 and 10-0 for shots on target.
Belize rarely got by the Canadian 35 yard line.  Kenny Stamatopoulos had almost nothing to do
to earn the shutout.  Canada had a 6-0 advantage in corner kicks and had many more crosses from
each wing sent into the box.  I was disappointed by Canadian forwards Cyle Larin not getting
away really great shots but he has cooled off at club level too with him still tied for the
all-time MLS rookie scoring title for the last few weeks with Orlando City.  As bad was
Issey Nakajima-Farran who fired off target several times or gave away the ball before getting
a chance to shoot or pass.  Canada did score two scrambly goals which helped their cause.

Canadian players saluted fans in the south end after the game still partially covered by smoke
bombs let off just before the third goal.  The PA system cut in with the electronica song
‘Hello’ by Dragonette.  I had to defend that song in the press box as very appropriate for
the players’ sentiment to their fans and one of the few Canadian songs played all night.
The singer is the daughter of former Ontario cabinet minister Greg Sorbora.

Tonight’s game was finally picked up for broadcast by TLN (Telelatino).  I wouldn’t care
if it was broadcast with Spanish or Italian commentary as long as I could play it back when
I got home.  It was originally only going to be a webcast.  The airwaves of Sportsnet are
crammed everyday from Thursday to Tuesday with UEFA qualifiers and TSN didn’t step in either.
Even the Toronto FC centric GOL TV permanently went off the air last week!

The post game press conference started with Belize assistant coach Charlie Slusher answering
my question about the country even hosting a home game after letting Canada host both ends
when they last met in 2004.  The country now has a FIFA approved stadium thanks to CONCACAF
funding (I bet they were supporters of Jack Warner right til the end).  He said they played
‘too defensively’ but would be better in Belize as they’ll be more confident playing in front
of their home fans (3500 seat stadium).  He was not satisfied with the result and said the
team did not play well…mental lapses led to the 90th minute goal.  Injuries played a big
role in the last two goals as they had players being treated at the time.  He gave the
Canadian team credit for being determined and pressing for more goals.

Canadian coach Benito Floro and his translator were next.  He started by thanking the
BMO Field groundscrew for keep a good ground.  He said about the Canadian performance that
it’s the first time any of his teams have not allowed a single shot on net.  His players
made good crosses but they have to shoot on target.  The team played perfect control he said
and they obtained a good result.  He answered that Julian de Guzman had a calf injury.
Was he happy with the three goals?  Yes but not enough to relax.  They have to work a lot
and press.  Belize has four good players they have to mark and he wants Canada to score another
1 or 2 goals to make it more comfortable.  Tactics in tonight’s game?  We put in a combined
attack of crossing into the penalty area.  If Belize is weak why use the wings?  Nothing
wrong with that!  Was it hard to break Belize down with eleven guys behind the ball near
the end?  True they defended compact in the box but our problem was we couldn’t score goals.
Past Belize what will other opponents think of Canada?  We must pass Belize first.  Mexico
is the best of the group but other teams are good including us…it is very important
to show we are capable.

Hallway interviews were next with players Tosaint Ricketts, Nik Ledgerwood, Izzy Nakajima-Ferran,
and Atiba Hutchinson being made available.  I’m not completely sure how clear they turned out
but I had trouble hearing them with all the background noise but my long arms put my recorders
inches from their face so I’ll have a post on my site by the end of the week.

End of the press conference and out of the CNE grounds for a streetcar and then I found the
subway jammed with baseball fans so standing room only and I wasn’t home before midnight.
Or well there won’t be national team games for the beginning of the next round as (take your
choice) either BMO will be undergoing further renovations (to put a roof over it in the
offseason) or the weather will be too cold in the late Fall for games.  The road points
to Vancouver as the most likely choice.  These poor attendances can be used as arguments
to show off the national team across the country.  The two 4-0 games  against Belize played
at Richardson Stadium in Kingston Ontario drew 8245 and 5124 three days apart in back
in 2004.  Arguments that if games aren’t held in the media center of Canada they won’t
be covered by the major networks means….oh they aren’t covered are they?   The press
box with so many ‘no shows’ had plenty of room for me to slide back and forth on my chair
around the pillars to have a clear view of the game.

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Robin Glover

Robin Glover

Robin has been writing about soccer in the Toronto area for message boards and his own website since the early 1990s in the days of 2400 baud modems to USENET sites. In the 2014 season he attended 76 games in various leagues that played in the GTA area.

Follow Robin on Twitter and on his website

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