It’s fitting that for Canadian soccer, 2013 will end with a whimper.
After a year in which the national team sunk to unprecedented depths and few individual players were able to firmly establish themselves on the international stage, most Canadians will be happy to see 2013 drift off in the rear-view mirror.
As it happened, the year’s final week of games saw virtually no playing time for Canadian exports anywhere in the world – though the winter break being taken in Germany (where a large number of Canadians ply their trade) has a lot to do with that.
Pedro Pacheco, one of the few Canadians who is a true stalwart for his club, played the full 90 in Santa Clara’s 1-0 win on Sunday in Portugal. It was the club’s third win in four games, a remarkable turnaround after a lengthy losing streak that had them looking poised for relegation.
Iain Hume came on as a second-half substitute for English third-tier side Preston North End in a 1-0 win over Shrewsbury on Monday, a result that keeps PNE fourth in the League One table and right in the middle of a fight for promotion to the Championship.
While neither of those two were born in Canada, they’ve both put in years of loyal service to the national team. Meanwhile, a pair of Canadian-born fence-sitters – neither of whom has ever suited up for the land of their birth – were also in action this week.
Fraser Aird scored his second goal of the season for Scotland's Glasgow Rangers, as they cruised to a 4-0 win over Dunfermline on Monday. Elsewhere, David “Junior” Hoilett made appearances for Queens Park Rangers on Thursday and Monday, as his club bagged four points from a possible six.
As we look ahead to 2014, could players like Aird and Hoilett finally feature for the Canadian men’s national team? Highly unlikely.
But one thing is for sure – if Canada’s men’s national team hopes to reverse its fortunes in the future, its members will need to find ways to become and remain meaningful contributors to their club sides, wherever in the world those clubs may happen to be.
Daniel Squizzato covers the Canadian national team and Canadian players based abroad for MLSsoccer.com.