Canada looking for 1st win under Floro


Atiba Hutchinson (left) in action for Canada. Chris Young/CP

There are no such things as friendlies for Canada—not any more.

That was the message from coach Benito Floro when he met with a small group of reporters ahead of Tuesday’s exhibition game between Canada and Jamaica at Toronto’s BMO Field.

The Spanish coach has had more than a year to get his bearings. Now he wants to focus on earning positive results on the pitch as a part of his rebuilding project.

Here are three things to know about this game.

Tuesday programming alert: Watch Canada vs. Jamaica in an international friendly from Toronto’s BMO Field live on Sportsnet ONE and Sportsnet World. Coverage begins at 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT. || Sportsnet World NOW || TV schedule

Floro searching for first win

Tuesday’s tilt not only marks the Reds’ first game on home soil in 2014, but it’s also the first in Canada since Benito Floro took over the coaching reins last summer.

Maybe a change of venue will do Floro some good—thus far, the Canadian team is winless in the seven games it’s played under the Spanish coach, with four losses. Canada is mired in a 16-game winless streak, and hasn’t tasted victory since a 3-0 decision over Cuba in a World Cup qualifier on Oct. 12, 2012 when coach Stephen Hart was still in charge.

Floro, who once coached Real Madrid, recently said that he has completed the first stage of his rebuild—evaluating the Canadian talent pool—and now he is trying to “define the 18 most important players” to the national team in order to gain positive results on the field.

“The Jamaica game is a very important game for us for two reasons,” Floro stated. “First, we now need to field the best team every time we play. Secondly, our CONCACAF ranking is not very good, so we need to win the match while at the same time playing well.”

“Both the result and how we play is very important for us, but the most important thing at this moment is that we have defined 18 important players,” Floro added. “We need to consider the game against Jamaica as an official game and not as a friendly. The mentality of the players must change because it is a very important game for us.”

Where will the goals come from?

In 2013, Canada scored just one goal in 13 games, and has only three goals in its last 15 outings overall.

Floro has called five forwards into this Canadian camp, including Dwayne De Rosario, who is the Reds’ all-time leading scorer with 20 goals in 77 appearances.

The rest of the forwards—Tosaint Ricketts, Simeon Jackson, Marcus Haber and Randy Edwini-Bonsu—have combined for 16 goals in 79 games. Canada has been outscored 9-2 since Floro took over, with Atiba Hutchinson’s goal from the penalty spot against Bulgaria in May ending a 959-minute scoring drought.

Why does Canada have such trouble scoring goals?

“Obviously it hasn’t gone the way we’ve wanted it to go,” Hutchinson said. “It has been some rebuilding—with Benito coming in he’s wanted to try out some of the [players] that haven’t been seen before, the younger guys, and just finding the right mix. Even saying that, it’s still important to start getting results.”

Defender David Edgar offers another theory.

“We’ve been focusing on defending as a team, and being hard to beat and hard to break down. On the other side of the ball, we need to start scoring goals. We have great attacking players, but it just feels like it’s often not our day in front of goal,” Edgar offered.

Mattocks missing for Jamaica

Jamaican coach Winfried Schaefer has assembled an 18-man roster for Tuesday’s game, including MLS players Deshorn Brown (Colorado Rapids), Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union) and Je-Vaughan Watson (FC Dallas).

But Whitecaps speedster Darren Mattocks isn’t with the team after injuring his ankle in the Vancouver’s 0-0 draw with D.C. United on the weekend.

“We have enough strikers for this match,” Schaefer Jamaican newspaper, the Jamaica Observer.

Jamaica is 85th in the most recent monthly FIFA world rankings, and seventh in CONCACAF—the soccer governing body for North and Central America, and the Caribbean. Canada is 112nd in the world—sandwiched between Central African Republic and Guinea-Bissau—and is ninth in CONCACAF.

Jamaica made it to “the Hex”—the final round of qualifying in CONCACAF for this summer’s World Cup—while Canada bowed out in the previous round, its fate sealed in a disastrous 8-1 loss to Honduras in San Pedro Sula.

“They have a lot of players that have a lot of offensive power and pace, but also creativity,” Canadian midfielder Patrice Bernier said. “Jamaica on a great day can knock the ball around, they can create chances, and they could put three goals behind you. You have to be aware of their qualities, but we have to focus on us and play our game.”

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