Two at-home internationals for C’dn soccer team

By RON FANFAIR

Canada’s men soccer team will play two internationals at home this year, including a contest at BMO Field on September 4 against an opponent to be announced.

The national side will meet Honduras in Montreal three days later as part of five remaining friendly internationals this year. Canada opened the season with a 1-0 loss to Jamaica last January in Kingston.

“This is simply an excellent opportunity for the national team and its players,” said national coach Stephen Hart. “Playing at home is always special and I am certain both the players and the Canadian fans will welcome this announcement.”

Canada’s all time-record at home is 44 wins, 37 losses and 17 draws and its Toronto record is 14 wins, 14 losses and six draws, including back-to-back ties at BMO Field in 2007 and 2008. Its record in Montreal is three wins, five losses and a draw.

The national side will tackle Argentina in Buenos Aires on May 24, Venezuela in Merida five days later and the Ukraine in its final match of the year on October 8.

Argentina, ranked eight in the world and a two-time World Cup champion, and Honduras will use the games to prepare for this summer’s World Cup in South Africa.

“Playing quality opposition is the only way to raise standards,” said Trinidad-born Hart who was appointed the full-time coach last December. “The games will allow staff the best possible opportunity to evaluate players. By the same token, it will allow players to test themselves.”

Canadian Soccer Association president Dr. Dominic Maestracci joined Hart at last week’s press conference to announce plans for the national programs.

“We must create the best opportunities for our men to gain international experience as they prepare for the next qualification process,” he said. “Our goal as an association is a spot at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Canada last competed in the World Cup in 1986, losing 1-0 to France and 2-0 to both Hungary and the Soviet Union.

The national women’s team will also play multiple matches this year as they prepare for the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Associations of Soccer (CONCACAF) Gold Cup tournament in either October or November. The top two teams will advance to next year’s Women’s World Cup in Germany.

Meanwhile, skipper Dwayne DeRosario scored both goals in Toronto FC’s 2-1 win over newcomers Philadelphia Union in its first home match this season on the new grass surface at BMO Field last Thursday.

DeRosario, the 31-year-old midfielder who assumed the captaincy earlier this month after the sudden retirement of Jim Brennan following the season opener on the road, opened the scoring in the 35th minute and sealed the issue from the penalty spot nine minutes before the end of regulation.

TFC is 1-3 this season after losing its first three road games, including a 3-1 defeat to Colorado Rapids last Sunday.

DeRosario netted Toronto FC’s only goal, his fourth of the season. He has been his team’s only scorer this year.

 

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