It was a performance that will go down in the annals of Canadian soccer history, and for all the wrong reasons.
Prior to Tuesday’s match in Honduras, there was so much hope amongst the players and fans of Canada’s national team. Hope that we’d turned the corner as a footballing nation. Hope that we’d finally arrived as a heavy hitter in CONCACAF.
It took all of 16 minutes for those hopes to vanish. Needing just a point to advance to the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, Canada’s hopes were crushed in the most disheartening of fashions with an 8-1 loss.
There will be a lot hand-wringing and soul-searching in the Canadian soccer community in the coming weeks, but for now, let’s take a look back at what went wrong and give the players their grades.
Lars Hirschfeld (D). Despite conceding eight goals, it’s difficult to place much of the blame on Hirschfeld. His defenders constantly let unmarked Honduran players have their way in the box, and though it’s a night Hirschfeld will have nightmares about, it’s not as if it the shellacking was his fault.
David Edgar (D-). Was unable to get forward and provide service to the strikers as he had in previous matches. On a couple of Honduran goals, didn’t challenge his man, allowing quality balls to be played in to the box.
Kevin McKenna (F). If this is McKenna’s final match in a Canada uniform, it’s a disappointing way to go out – to put it lightly. McKenna, who was reportedly dealing with a cold coming into the match, has been a loyal soldier of the Canadian program for many years. On this day, he was victimized time and time again as the Honduran forwards won headers and sprinted by him.
Andre Hainault (F). Hainault had come on strongly for the Canadian side over the past year, but he looked completely out of his element in this match. Like McKenna, he was beat on several headers, and failed to mark attackers that directly led to goals. He was also nutmegged badly on one of the Honduran strikes. An all-around embarrassing performance.
Mike Klukowski (F). A curious choice for manager Stephen Hart to replace Ante Jazic (sinus infection) in the starting 11, Klukowski has not played much high-level soccer in the past year – and it showed. Klukowski had several errant passes, and did not do a good job of marking his men down the wings.
Atiba Hutchinson (C-). Hutchinson played his game, showing good possession at times and ventured forward into attack on the rare occasions he could. Without much movement up front for Canada, the options for an outlet were limited. He worked hard and ran box-to-box; Hutchinson has played far better games for Canada, but his performance was hardly the worst for the Canadians on this day.
Julian de Guzman (D). Struck the post in the early moments of the match, giving Canada a flicker of hope. Had a couple of nice passes, but the entire Canadian midfield was far too easy for Honduras to break down with simple counter-attacks, and with De Guzman in a deep defensive midfield position, he must shoulder some of the blame.
Will Johnson (F). Johnson, renowned in MLS and amongst Canadian supporters for his work rate and determination, didn’t make much of an impact on the match. A disappointing performance for him, though he’s not alone among his teammates in that regard.
Nik Ledgerwood (D-). Set up a nice scoring chance for Canada early, but barely made a mark on the match after that. Ledgerwood only played because of the red card issued last match to Olivier Occean, and while he’s valuable as a role player on this squad, the fact that he started this match speaks to a lack of depth in the Canadian side.
Tossaint Ricketts (F). As is typical of Ricketts’ game for Canada, he got himself into some dangerous scoring areas and then squandered the opportunity. Ricketts seemed to work hard, and is always one of the quickest men on the pitch, but his finishing ability is simply not up to par to play in an attacking position at this level of competition.
Simeon Jackson (F). Another disappointing performance from the Norwich City forward, who has loads of technical ability but tends to flit in and out of matches. He didn’t show much desire in this match. But at 25, he’s one of the few pieces on this side that might play a role in qualification for the 2018 World Cup.
Iain Hume (46′) – One of the few Canadian players to show any signs of life, the Doncaster Rovers forward was rewarded with a lovely strike off a free kick for Canada’s only goal on the night. Unlike some of his teammates, Hume is one player that always leaves it all on the pitch.
Lucas Cavallini (64′) – The 19-year-old made his first meaningful appearance for Canada and showed pretty well in his limited action. In a way, his greatest asset is that he provides something for Canadian fans to maybe look forward to for the future – a sentiment sorely needed on this, perhaps the darkest of days in Canadian soccer.