Four months on, it was hard not to notice that the weather during Canada’s training session at BMO Field on Wednesday morning was not unlike those conditions that greeted the team when they hit Toronto to begin this World Cup qualifying marathon back in June.
It was cold, wet and windy, although it did improve as the morning wore on. It was easy to notice two things in particular at first glance, one of which didn’t even require a glance. All you have to do is listen. That voice you hear, that laughter you hear is coming from goalkeeper Milan Borjan. A giggle a minute this guy is, and it helps keep the mood light ahead of Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Cuba.
The other thing you notice is the ear to ear smile on the face of Iain Hume. The diminutive sparkplug is back after a spell away from the national team setup. It’s not so surprising really because he also had to endure an unwanted spell away from club football in recent months.
What happened to him at Preston North End is unforgiveable and illustrates the cut-throat business that is professional football. With two years remaining on his contract Hume was all set to return for the start of pre-season training around the first of July. But a scant two days before the report date he received a text from club management saying his services were no longer required, that he should start looking for another team, and oh by the way, we don’t even want you around the club so you’ll have to train on your own. Two days before reporting! A text message!
So for the next two months Hume worked out with other players in similar circumstances, because he wasn’t the only one in this predicament. The day the transfer window closed at the end of August, he was finally picked up by Doncaster Rovers. Technically he’s on loan, and Preston continues to pay his wages, but the summer was lost. He has seen some game action recently and told me he’s ready to go 90 minutes Friday night if called upon. Canadian coach Stephen Hart says we’ll see, but added that he wouldn’t have brought him in if he didn’t feel he could help.
Hume could be considered a direct replacement for the injured Dwayne De Rosario on this squad and while he sympathizes with De Rosario’s plight he’s overjoyed that he got the call. Hume is the kind of guy you want on your team. He’ll go through a wall. He’s also a guy who set his alarm clock for the middle of the night last month in England just so he could watch the Canada games against Panama online. He lived and died with every minute. He loves this team that much.
And so here we are with Canada needing goals against Cuba in a fight against the dreaded goal differential tie-breaker. Hume is convinced if they can score early against Cuba, they will score often. There is a sense around this team that not only can they get the job done here, but that they can get a result in Honduras next week. If so, we’re on the edge of something very special.