DENVER – The Canadian national team's elimination from the CONCACAF Gold Cup means the next time the team plays, it will be under the direction of Benito Floro.
Canada’s new head coach takes over next month and, after seeing his team's performance of two losses and a draw in three games with no goals scored, he certainly has an idea of the massive task that awaits him in rebuilding the program.
The Canadian Soccer Association announced Floro’s appointment right before the Gold Cup, but no friendlies have been scheduled so it is unclear when he will first lead the national team from the sidelines. But is he up to the task of solving a scoring problem that has plagued the team for years?
“The problem that Canada has and – you saw it again today – is in the attacking third,” interim head coach Colin Miller said in his final postgame press conference in charge after Sunday's 0-0 draw with Panama. “We’re almost running out of ideas, if you like, when you get into the attacking third where other countries genuinely look dangerous.”
Forward Lucas Cavallini dropped out of the squad prior to the tournament to stay with his club in Uruguay, but he’s definitely worth a look at the earliest opportunity. On top of that, the squad was decimated with injuries, sickness and in Simeon Jackson’s case, heading off to Germany to sign a contract with Eintracht Braunschweig.
Most of the players who dropped out were of the attack-minded persuasion like Randy Edwini-Bonsu, Russell Teibert (above), and Jackson, which further amplified Canada’s weaknesses in finishing.
Even without Nana Attakora, Dejan Jakovic, and Andre Hainault, Canada's defense put in an admirable effort and looks like it will continue to be the team’s strength. Save for a few careless giveaways, Panama didn’t really threaten much and against Mexico the Canucks looked organized, save for a few times where they were exploited.
Floro probably has two years until World Cup qualifying resumes again to shape his team and the first thing he should do is get veterans like Atiba Hutchinson and Hainault into the lineup with some of the group that featured at the Gold Cup.
Ideally, Canada should get a full schedule of games in every international window. Floro can use these matches to audition domestic and foreign-based talent, looking at as many players as possible so that whoever is brought in knows what to expect and knows how his team will play if they’re needed.
The 2015 Gold Cup will likely come before World Cup qualifying resumes, so ideally he’ll have his preferred lineup using the Gold Cup as a tune-up to qualifying and as a way to look at what will need tweaking for the World Cup campaign.