TORONTO — Midfielder Terry Dunfield can draw on his experiences with Toronto FC when he suits up for Canada in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, beginning Friday against St. Lucia at BMO Field.
He has heard stories from club teammate and former Germany international Torsten Frings about the World Cup pressure-cooker. He has also learned about the pitfalls of CONCACAF from Toronto’s involvement in the Champions League.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with [Frings] on the road,” Dunfield said Thursday after the Canadian team’s training session at BMO Field. “Some of his stories make the hair on the back of your neck stand up about World Cup semifinals and European championship finals. It would be nice to come back to him with a story.”
During Dunfield's time with Toronto FC, the CONCACAF experience has included poor pitch conditions on the road and some strange refereeing.
Toronto encountered extremely poor pitch conditions on Aug. 2 in Nicaragua when they beat Real Estelí 2-1 in a Champions League preliminary round match, which helped earn them a berth in Group C. And in a 2-1 win against Tauro FC in Panama City on Aug. 18, the Reds picked up six yellow cards to the home side's one.
“I’ve had some experience with the other Canadian games and also in the CONCACAF games with Toronto,” Dunfield said. “I’m fully aware of what it takes to compete.”
The 29-year-old Vancouver native played most of his career in England. He joined Vancouver last season when the Whitecaps were in the USSF D-2 Pro League. He began his season with the MLS expansion club, but was traded to Toronto on July 14, a couple of weeks before the Reds began their CCL campaign.
“You’re playing against players that are probably part of national teams, you’re playing games with some of the dubious refereeing, [and] those games can only help,” Dunfield said of his CCL experience. “I think a big part of it is how we do and how we perform as Canada.
"It’s difficult to scout these teams, to know too much about them, so it’s important that we go out there and play the way we can and do well as a team.”