TAMPA, Fla. — On the heels of a less-than-convincing 1-0 victory over a 10-man Guadeloupe side on Saturday, Canada's players maintained that the win was the only thing that matters.
“We got the three points, that’s all it came down to,” said striker Simeon Jackson. “We’re glad we got three points, and now we just look forward to the next game.”
Despite being a man up for 87 minutes, Canada didn’t get themselves onto the scoresheet until the second half. Guadeloupe’s pressure and physical play kept the Canucks from creating many good chances at goal, something that the Canadian players expected.
“I think you’ve got to give some credit to [Guadeloupe],” Vancouver Whitecaps FC midfielder Terry Dunfield said. “Once we got that goal it was a sense of relief, and it definitely gives us something to build on for Tuesday night [and Canada’s meeting with Panama in Kansas City].”
With the near-100 degree Tampa heat beating down on Raymond James Stadium, the Canadians played a deliberate, slow game that placed a heavy focus on out-waiting their opponent, especially after having gone up a goal.
“We didn’t want to change what we set out to do [after scoring], just be patient, it was very, very hot,” coach Stephen Hart said. “We wanted to keep the ball moving, and sort of make them do the bulk of the running.”
“It was a tough situation to play in,” said the New York Red Bulls’ Dwayne De Rosario, whose 51st-minute penalty goal was the difference between the two teams. “Obviously their going down a man helped us out a lot in terms of finding space and keeping the ball. That was our main focus: controlling the tempo of the game.”
The Canadians acknowledged that the weather conditions will likely be similar in Kansas City for their next match versus Group C leaders Panama at Livestrong Sporting Park on Tuesday, so they look to use their time in Florida as a learning experience.
“It’s new to a lot of the players,” Dunfield said of the heat. “You need to play a different tempo to the game and that’s something we’re working on.”
Added De Rosario, “In Kansas City it’s going to be the same, if not hotter than here, so we have to know how to manage the game in these situations.”
Regardless of the heat, De Rosario said that the key reason that Canada prevailed was that they did not allow physical nature of the match to overwhelm them.
“The main thing is we didn’t lose our heads in the game, and didn’t let them make us get a red card,” he said. “We kept our composure.”