HAVANA – With 27 minutes left to play in their 1-0 win over Cuba, Lars Hirschfeld (above) charged off his line to claim a ball ahead of an on-rushing Cuban player.
While it appeared that Hirschfeld could have waited inside his box for the ball to come to him, it suddenly took a funny hop on what could best be described as a cow pasture of a pitch.
With no options and right at the lip of his 18-yard box, Hirschfeld handled the ball and was given a straight red card for denying a possible goalscoring opportunity.
"I came out pretty aggressively and basically looking to play it out to the left back with my head, and when it bounced, it popped up really high over me," Hirschfeld told reporters after the match. "It was a desperation thing – either [handle the ball or] let it get up over me and into the box and let them have a go at it. I haven't seen it, but I think I was about a foot or two [outside]."
The red card came at a difficult time as Canada had just silenced the vocal Cuban supporters less than 10 minutes earlier when Olivier Occean had headed home what proved to be the winning goal.
Fortunately for Canada, they have depth in the goalkeeping position and Milan Borjan, who came off the bench in place of Tosaint Ricketts, looked sharp in the 27 minutes Canada had to play with 10 men.
"It was all about the team today, they put in a heck of a grind," Hirschfeld said. "The goal helped us out a lot but all credit to everyone on the pitch."
While Borjan admitted that he was surprised that he had to come in due to Hirschfeld's ejection, he will likely find himself in the firing line on June 12 when the Canadians welcome Honduras to BMO Field in Toronto.
"It's going to be tough," said Borjan. "We play at home and we want as many fans as possible to come to give us a 12th man and I hope that's going to happen."