Even after 15 years with Canada’s men’s national team – and all of the disappointments endured in that time – Dwayne De Rosario still has hope.
“It’s all one step at a time – the next camp, the next game,” De Rosario told reporters after Canada’s 1-0 loss at Slovenia on Tuesday. “This year was a very difficult year. No one hates losing more than me, but when you lose, you’re learning and you move forward.”
“Difficult” might be putting it lightly for Canada in 2013, a year in which Les Rouges didn’t win in 13 games, and managed to score just once. Tuesday’s loss was their 10th straight game without scoring, with De Rosario coming closest to breaking the ugly streak with a well-struck shot in the first half.
"Their goalkeeper [Jan Oblak] made a wonderful save off me, you couldn’t do anything more about that,” De Rosario said. “[But] towards the end, we’re still pushing, we’re still going forward … for me, that’s huge.”
While both teams used the friendly as a chance to test out the depth of their player pool, De Rosario noted that considering the disparity in world ranking between the two teams – Slovenia are No. 30, Canada are No. 111 – his side held their own.
“Slovenia’s not ranked 30 just by luck. They showed their qualities today,” De Rosario said. “It’s a great test for us to close off the year.”
Even so, head coach Benito Floro noted several elements of Canada’s game where improvement is still needed if the team is to turn around its on-field fortunes.
“We need to start passing the ball behind our opponents’ back,” Floro told reporters. “We are always playing the ball in front of them and it’s very difficult to score from that.”
Floro also noted that his team “need to tackle better, and fight for possession better.”
Still, De Rosario reiterated that Canada have shown progress against Slovenia and the Czech Republic (a 2-0 loss on Friday) – and that competing in such difficult games now will pay dividends in the long run.
“I’m confident that 2014 is bright in the future for the development of Canadian soccer,” the 35-year-old said. “It’s in the right hands and we’ve just got to continue believing and moving forward because we’ve got a good group.”