CARSON, Calif. — While the MLS season wasn't going great, Chivas USA defender Ante Jazic had something else to more than keep his interest.
He and the Canadian national team were one match away from reaching the Hexagonal, one match away from reaching a stage of World Cup qualifying Canada had not seen for more than a decade.
But Jazic’s dreams of playing for the right to go to the World Cup were annihilated when Honduras smashed Canada 8-1 on Tuesday. Jazic, who was unavailable for selection due to an ear infection, was still trying to find a reason for the breakdown some 48 hours after the fact.
“'I don’t know,' is a key phrase there,” Jazic said after Chivas USA training on Thursday. “We’re still searching for answers. We played well throughout the qualifying campaign and for that result to happen on Tuesday blindsided everyone. We didn’t play well, but that result is embarrassing for Canada, embarrassing for us as players.”
Getting trounced by seven goals is one thing, but doing so in what many hailed as the biggest game Canada played in the last 10-plus years sank the team to new lows.
“We had a good generation, and actually good positive vibe for the team,” Jazic said. “Fans were starting to come out to games and get behind us and for us to bow out like that is devastating.”
Canada manager Stephen Hart resigned Thursday as part of the aftermath, and while many observers said there was no other option, Jazic said the way in which the team fell in Central America was the players’ responsibility alone.
“That result is an embarrassment for all the players,” Jazic said. “That had nothing to do with coaching or tactics, that just came down to individuals on the day and we weren’t good enough as a group.”
For Jazic, the loss marked the end for something other than the team’s World Cup qualifying campaign.
“It’s a devastating way to end my international career,” he said.
When asked if he had decided to retire from international soccer, Jazic clarified himself.
“I don’t think I’m going to say I’m retiring, but at 36, it’s definitely time for the program to look at the future,” he said. “I enjoy playing for my country, but I think now is the time to start focusing on young players.
"But if there’s ever a situation where like it was last year when they were in a pickle for a game or two, I would never turn my back on my country.”
Luis Bueno covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.