TORONTO – It’s no secret that Canada can't rely solely on their solid defense if they want to advance in World Cup qualifying. But unfortunately for the Canucks, goals have been hard to come by recently. For once though, they may have a few players who will bring their scoring boots with them.
Given Canada’s historic struggles in front of goal, head coach Stephen Hart is certainly encouraged that he’s got a few players who have recently found the back of the net for their respective clubs.
Patrice Bernier, Simeon Jackson, Atiba Hutchinson and Nik Ledgerwood have all scored recently for their teams, and Hart is hoping their recent form will lead to good things as Canada approach two crucial games against Panama, the top team in their qualifying roup.
“It’s a confidence thing. Players go through phases in their game and especially those who depend on scoring goals,” said Hart in a conference call with Canadian media on Thursday. “They need to be very confident and what that does it brings them into a training camp in a good mood and with a certain amount of confidence so it can only be healthy for them.”
While a number of players will come into camp on a goalscoring high, D.C. United midfielder Dwayne De Rosario is a prime example of a player that hasn’t enjoyed the same form for his country that he has with his club. The last time he scored for Canada was back in November, but it’s not something Hart is terribly concerned about.
“He’s played a different sort of role for us,” said Hart. “All credit to him – he has buckled down, contributed and really if he sets up the goals or scores the goals it doesn’t really matter to me once the goals come.”
It’s no surprise that the squad named for the games against Panama is quite a bit different than the squad that took on Trinidad and Tobago earlier in the summer, as many veteran names were omitted for that game. Hart emphasized the friendlies are a time to experiment and that there's no time for such luxuries next month, when their World Cup fate could be on the line.
“If I look at the games we’ve played – we’ve played with a lot of discipline, we’ve created a number of chances during the game and off of the set pieces,” he said. “It’s just a matter of sort of finishing off that sort of end product of the game and I have no doubt that it will come.”
Canada roster for qualifiers vs. Panama on Sept. 7 and Sept. 11
Goalkeepers (3): Lars Hirschfeld (Vålerenga/Norway), Milan Borjan (Sivasspor/Turkey), Kenny Stamatopoulos (AIK/Sweden)
Defenders (7): Ante Jazic (Chivas USA), Kevin McKenna (FC Köln/Germany), Andrew Hainault (Houston Dynamo), Marcel de Jong (FC Augsburg/Germany), Dejan Jakovic (D.C. United), David Edgar (Burnley/England), Ashtone Morgan (Toronto FC).
Midfielders (8): Nik Ledgerwood (Hammarby/Sweden), Julian de Guzman (FC Dallas), Terry Dunfield (Toronto FC), Will Johnson (Real Salt Lake), Atiba Hutchinson (PSV Eindhoven/Netherlands), Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United), Pedro Pacheco (CD Santa Clara/Portugal), Patrice Bernier (Montreal Impact).
Forwards (3): Tosaint Ricketts (unattached), Simeon Jackson (Norwich City FC/England), Olivier Occean (Eintracht Frankfurt/Germany).