Spratt on Gold Cup: Few positives for young Canadians

Canada's Ashtone Morgan, left, fights for control of the ball with Panama's Jairo Jimenez. (AP/David Zalubowski)

Canada was eliminated from the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Sunday after drawing Panama 0-0 in Denver.

After a shocking 1-0 opening-match loss to Martinique, the Reds made a better account of themselves on Thursday against Mexico, despite losing the match 2-0.

With Canada needing a win to have a chance at going through to the quarter-finals, they were undone by a familiar story on Sunday. This young squad assembled for the tournament struggled again to create any offensive threat against a second-choice Panama side that had already qualified for the quarter-finals.

Canada finishes their Gold Cup campaign with no goals scored over three matches. Although most observers were expecting a rough tournament, you’d have to be looking through some seriously rose-coloured glasses to take many positives out of the past three matches.

With new manager Benito Floro now set to take the reins, there’s certainly lots of work to be done. In the meantime, a quick assessment of how the players fared in their match on Sunday


Milan Borjan (B): Didn’t have a whole lot of action to deal with, but saved Canada’s bacon on Panama’s one great chance. Otherwise, it was a fairly typical Borjan performance: Good shot-stopping ability and questionable distribution skills. A decent option to have going forward, though the goalkeeper position will likely be up for grabs as the new regime takes hold.


Ashtone Morgan (C): We saw both sides of Morgan’s game — the good, in his ability to get forward and support the attack, and the bad, in his propensity for defensive blunders. He was lucky to get away with an awful giveaway that nearly gifted Panama an early goal.

David Edgar (B-): Showed some good no-nonsense defending throughout the match, and has looked pretty good throughout the tournament in his preferred spot in central defence. His aptitude in winning headers is a real asset for his game.

Doneil Henry (C+): A good match for the young Toronto FC defender, who continues to look more composed with the ball at his feet. Got burned a few times but was able to make up the ground and recover well enough. Henry’s development in 2013 is one of the few positive storylines for this version of the national team.

Nik Ledgerwood (C): A fairly quiet match for the right back, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Played a couple of decent balls forward, as he’s often able to do, but also put in a few badly scuffed crosses.


Pedro Pacheco (C-): Looked fairly influential in a holding midfield role early in the match, but his impact faded as the match wore on. A slight upgrade over what 18-year-old Samuel Piette provided Canada in the same role in the opening two matches of the tournament.

Julian de Guzman (C+): After a poor match against Martinique to open the tournament, de Guzman was much improved in Canada’s last two outings. He had a particularly good first half on Sunday, and was able to join the attack a little more than we customarily see from the veteran.

Marcel De Jong (C-): Solid positionally on the left flank after moving up from the left back role he occupied in Canada’s matches against Martinique and Mexico. Doesn’t provide much offensive flair on the wing, but had a couple of decent long balls and was pulled down on what seemed like a clear path in toward the Panama goal.

Kyle Bekker (C): Another promising performance for Bekker, who is showing more willingness to get stuck in defensively and more desire for the ball to be played through him. Wasted a couple of decent opportunities for crosses throughout the match, but also had a couple of attempts on goal blocked by the Panama defence.

Jonathan Osorio (C-): Probably a little overmatched as the central attacking midfielder in Canada’s 4-2-3-1 formation at this point in his career. The potential is certainly there though. As it were, Osorio didn’t have a hugely influential match. Still, the opportunity for him to play significant minutes during this tournament can only be positive for his continued development.


Marcus Haber (C): Another frustrating match for the big man, who had Panamanian defenders draped over him at every opportunity, and was whistled for fouls on virtually every encounter he had with them. Showed some nice footwork, but as in Canada’s first two matches at the Gold Cup, was more or less isolated as the lone striker. It’s hard to expect a lot of production with close to zero service from the young Canadian midfield.


Kyle Porter made a nice impact on the match after entering and was all over the park. He should continue to work his way into the midfield mix going forward. Tossaint Ricketts and Issey Nakajima-Faran were not able to make significant marks on the match after entering late.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.