It was hardly an encouraging performance against what is supposed to be lesser opposition. Canada tuned up for Sunday’s CONCACAF Gold Cup opener with a 1-1 draw against the Ventura County Fusion of the USL PDL on Tuesday in Oxnard, Calif., kicking off a big month of July with a thud.
Nik Ledgerwood had the game’s opening goal in the 23rd minute, slotting home against a Fusion team that was happy to bunker and let the Canadians test them with wave after wave of attack.
But “wave after wave” didn’t translate to any more goals, and Ventura County’s Kennedy Chongo scored a penalty in the 68th minute to tie the game.
Portland Timbers captain Will Johnson was handed the captain’s armband for the game and will carry that role into the Gold Cup. Both Johnson and Marcus Haber had scoring chances in the opening 15 minutes that neither player could convert.
Eventually, Haber found Ledgerwood, who was making a run up the right side, and the midfielder didn’t fluff his lines.
Though it may to be a worrying sign that Canada couldn’t get more past a PDL side, it must be noted that the Cabucks went with almost completely different lineups in each half and all three of their goalkeepers saw action.
The Fusion got their equalizer against a second-half lineup that likely won’t be the backline foursome that plays on Sunday against Martinique at the Rose Bowl (5:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer, Sportsnet).
Following their Gold Cup opener, Canada then head to Seattle to play Mexico on July 11 before finishing the group stage against Panama in Denver three days later.
Canada lineup vs. Ventura County
First half: Milan Borjan; Nik Ledgerwood, David Edgar, Doneil Henry, Marcel de Jong; Julian de Guzman, Will Johnson (c); Tosaint Ricketts, Kyle Bekker, Russell Teibert; Marcus Haber.
Second half: Simon Thomas (Lars Hirschfeld, 60'); Samuel Piette, Adam Straith, Doneil Henry, Ashtone Morgan; Jonathan Osorio, Pedro Pacheco, Issey Nakajima-Farran, Keven Aleman; Simeon Jackson, Randy Edwini-Bonsu.