Olympic Qualifying: Canada must tighten up for US clash

Olympic Qualifying: Nana Attakora

Photo Credit: 
MexSport

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Had it not been for Michal Michal Misiewicz in goal, Canada’s Under-23 team could easily have come out of their opening game of the Olympic qualifying tournament having lost by a couple goals.

Misiewicz (pictured above, lower right), who plays for FC Edmonton of the NASL, made two huge saves in the first half that allowed Canada to salvage a point in a 0-0 draw against El Salvador on Thursday night.

Just 11 minutes into the game, the Salvadorans attacked through Isidro Gutiérrez, leaving Misiewicz to come off his line and smartly cut down the angle before stopping a close-range shot with his right hand. On a similar play nine minutes later, he was called upon again to close down Andrés Flores, who was played in on goal.

“I’m happy with the result and to get one point,” Misiewicz told reporters after the game. “It’s the first game so we can only go up from here. It’s a positive result."

Canadian coach Tony Fonseca hasn’t said whether Misiewicz will continue in goal or if he’ll give a chance to Adam Janssen for Saturday’s game against the United States (9 pm ET, Universal Sports, Sportsnet One CONCACAF.com). But whoever is between the sticks will have to be sharp against the high-powered American offence that put six goals past Cuba on Thursday.

The Canucks’ back line will have to be equally solid. They didn’t give up a goal in the first game, but the Americans’ finishing is certainly a level or three higher than El Salvador's. Of concern for Canada is that center back and team captain Nana Attakora, most recently of the San Jose Earthquakes, is sitting on a yellow card.

“It was a silly yellow card to take,” Attakora (pictured above, center) told reporters after Friday's training session. “I put my hands up to that. I take responsibility but I just have to be smarter tomorrow.”

Attakora picked up the yellow for dissent in the second half. If he picks up another card against the US, he would miss the all-important game against Cuba on March 26.

“I’m still going to go into challenges and just play a physical game,” Attakora said. “I have to as a center back, so I can’t see it changing my game too much.”