TORONTO — With the sounds of the Canadian National Exhibition’s midway reverberating around BMO Field, Canada took their boisterous fans on a roller-coaster ride on Friday en route to a 4-1 victory over St. Lucia to open their World Cup qualifying campaign.
A pair of goals from Josh Simpson, a Dwayne De Rosario penalty kick and a Will Johnson stoppage-time marker were enough to dispatch the 184th-ranked St. Lucians, who put a scare into their hosts with an early goal and some rough play.
The first half opened at a break-neck pace, with Canada pouring on the pressure from the get-go and nearly opening the scoring within the first 30 seconds. After a flurry of attacks, the Canadians broke the deadlock six minutes in through Simpson, whose one-time effort off a De Rosario cross caromed off a defender and found net.
What seemed to be a sign of sure Canuck dominance turned sour very quickly, as the St. Lucians marched down the field after the restart and slotted home a stunning equalizer just a minute after Simpson’s opener. Winger Tremain Paul found space down the left touchline, cut inside and unleashed a 25-yard bender that beat Canadian 'keeper Lars Hirschfeld to the far post.
The game slowed down considerably after the first two goals, with Canada re-asserting their dominance in possession while also trying to unlock an extremely physical St. Lucian side. The islanders withstood wave after wave of Canadian attacks for the remainder of the first 45 minutes, thanks in large part to the abysmal finishing on display by the hosts.
That would change in the second half, however. Six minutes in, Chivas USA’s Ante Jazic made a probing run down the left side and sent in a cross, which was then handled in the penalty area by a St. Lucian defender. De Rosario stepped up and buried the ensuing penalty kick to put the Canadians up 2-1. The visitors remained unfazed, though, and nearly leveled again two minutes later on a header that went inches wide of Hirschfeld’s right post.
It wasn’t until shortly after the hour mark than the game was put out of reach thanks to Simpson’s second goal of the match. The Manisaspor attacker was sent in alone on goal by Atiba Hutchinson, and he made no mistake in coolly pushing it past St. Lucian ‘keeper Iran Cassius.
Johnson added a late one, easily placing a loose ball into the St. Lucia goal from less than six yards out.
Canada are in action again on Tuesday when they travel to Puerto Rico for Matchday 2 in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
CAN -- Josh Simpson (Dwayne De Rosario), 6’
LCA -- Tremain Paul, 7’
CAN -- Dwayne De Rosario, 51’ (PK)
CAN -- Josh Simpson (Atiba Hutchinson), 61’
CAN -- Will Johnson, 90+1’
LCA -- Pernal Williams, 8’ (Caution; Reckless Foul)
LCA -- Hiram Hunte, 64’ (Caution; Reckless Foul)
LCA -- Pernal Williams, 88’ (Ejection; Second Caution)
Canada -- Lars Hirschfeld, Ante Jazic, Kevin McKenna, Andre Hainault, Jonathan Beaulieu-Borgault, Julian de Guzman, Atiba Hutchinson (Will Johnson, 68’), Dwayne De Rosario, Josh Simpson (Tosaint Ricketts, 68’), Simeon Jackson, Iain Hume (Marcus Haber, 82’)
Subs not used: Milan Borjan, Mike Klukowski, David Edgar, Terry Dunfield, Jaime Peters
St. Lucia -- Iran Cassius, Kurt Frederick, Bernard Edward (Fabian Joseph, 29’), Nathan Justin, Pernal Williams, Zaine Pierre (Cliff Valcin, 68’), Hiram Hunte, Guy George (Kevin Edward,50’), Tremain Paul, Enderson George, Jamil Joseph
Subs not used: Pessius Polius, Kevin Edward, Rickson Agustin, Terran John
Referee: Jair Marrufo (USA)
Referee’s Assistants: Charles Morgante, Adam Wienckowski (USA)
4th Official: Terry Vaughn (USA)
Weather: Cloudy and 82 degrees