TORONTO – If Canada are to make it to next year's final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, they’ll be doing so without the country’s record goalscorer. Dwayne De Rosario's MCL sprain has left national team coach Stephen Hart with a big hole to fill in the Canadians' already sputtering offense.
With the announcement that De Rosario will be out for 10 to 12 weeks after suffering the injury just minutes into Canada’s 2-0 loss to Panama on Tuesday came the realization that the challenge that awaits them in two life-or-death qualifiers just got that much tougher.
“Dwayne is an inspirational player and has played a major role in the national team's qualification campaign,” Hart in a brief statement on Thursday. “Injury is an unfortunate part of football and yes, he will be missed.”
In his statement, Hart opted not to go into detail as to just how he plans to alter the team’s tactics or formation without one of the most recognized Canadian players. De Rosario’s 20th career goal for Canada last week in a victory over Panama at BMO Field made him the country’s all-time leading scorer.
More than the goals (many of which have come from the penalty spot), De Rosario’s creative abilities will what will be missed. But Hart sees it as an opportunity for another player to step up in that position.
“Dwayne's misfortune will open the door for one of the more-than-capable players to step in and seize the moment,” he added.
His absence will be felt more in Canada’s first game next month against group doormats Cuba. It’s a game they simply need as many goals as possible and someone will have to step up to not only score to get Canada a win – but score a few goals to improve a mediocre goal differential which may prove crucial at the end of this round.