You can say one thing about Canadian national team head coach Benito Floro: He seems to always have a plan.
With his team set to face the Czech Republic on Friday (11 am ET, Sportsnet One) and Slovenia on Nov. 19 (noon ET, Sportsnet One) to close out what’s been a disastrous year of on-field results, Floro knows exactly what he’s expecting from the pair of friendlies.
“The first game is for the first team,” the Spaniard told media on a conference call on Thursday. “The second is [the one] in which I can put [in] our young players or other players to change three, four, six players or more.”
It’s a fitting end to a year of transition and experimentation for Canada as they gradually rebuild after another failed World Cup qualifying campaign. While that’s meant regular playing time for MLS youngsters such as Russell Teibert, Doneil Henry and Jonathan Osorio, the team is still in a position where veterans such as Terry Dunfield receive national-team minutes.
When asked why Dunfield – who hasn’t played since being waived by Toronto FC in June – was added to the roster this week, Floro said that he simply was the best option available with the likes of Atiba Hutchinson, Julian de Guzman and David Edgar being unavailable.
“Terry is a good professional,” Floro said. “He’s training very hard, looking for a team.”
But depth isn’t the only long-standing issue that Floro has been forced to confront since taking over in August. Canada’s traditional lack of goalscoring punch has hit critical levels in 2013, with the team finding the net just once in 11 games. Floro, as many other managers have, chalks it up to a lack of clinical finishing.
“The first match [against Mauritania in September], we created a lot of chances at goal, but we didn’t finish correctly,” said Floro. “Australia [last month's friendly opponent], the first half, the same. But we made a lot of chances, enough to score two or three goals.”
Despite the troubles, Floro is adamant about continuing to test his team against difficult opposition (both the Czech Republic and Slovenia are in the top 30 in FIFA rankings, while Canada are ranked No. 111 in the world) as a means of preparing them for the future.
He said he plans to hold several training camps in South America in 2014 and also spoke of the importance of boosting resources for Canada’s U-23 squad, since “in one year or two years, they will be the base of the men’s national team.”
“It is very important to think about the new [World Cup qualification cycle],” Floro said, a period that is likely at least two years away for Les Rouges.
In the meantime, Canadian fans will need to trust that however the results turn out, that it’s all part of Floro’s grander plan.