It wasn’t the victory that Canada had been desperately searching for – but it at least provided a reeling program with another injection of optimism and confidence.
A less-than-full-strength Canadian men’s national team drew 1-1 with Moldova on Tuesday in its second international friendly of a 10-day training camp based in Austria. Head coach Benito Floro had said getting good results in the two games would be crucial for the team’s confidence, in the aftermath of a disastrous 2013 in which Canada scored just once in 13 winless outings.
And while Les Rouges have now gone 16 international matches without a win, they picked up some crucial FIFA points against a pair of European opponents – and gave a number of European-based youngsters a chance to show their stuff during training camp.
Against Moldova, though, Floro went with virtually the same veteran-laden starting XI that he fielded in Friday’s 1-1 result against Bulgaria, making just one change – Montreal Impact Academy defender Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé joined the backline in place of David Edgar, who left camp on Saturday to celebrate his nuptials. Gagnon-Laparé started at left back, with former Houston Dynamo defender Andre Hainault moving into a central defending role.
It didn’t take long for the goalscoring to get underway. In just the seventh minute, Eugen Sidorenco was given the time and space for a free header, and notched his seventh career goal for his country, putting Moldova up 1-0.
But just three minutes later, Pedro Pacheco’s corner found the head of Hainault, the foot of Tosaint Ricketts and, ultimately, the back of the net. It was the first time Canada had scored in back-to-back games since World Cup qualifiers against Cuba and Honduras back in October 2012.
Canada continued applying pressure in the first half, with Atiba Hutchinson hitting the crossbar with a shot shortly before the break. The game, however, went into halftime tied at a goal apiece.
Les Rouges dominated possession in the early going of the second half, but couldn’t find a breakthrough. Youngster Cyle Larin subbed in for Randy Edwini-Bonsu in the 59th minute, giving the Canadians a different look in the attack. But despite good spells of possession during the final 45, Canada simply couldn’t do enough to break the deadlock, settling for their second consecutive draw.
Floro’s side remains undefeated in 2014 – though the friendlies against Bulgaria and Moldova have been their only two international matches thus far. Canada’s next scheduled match is a friendly against Jamaica on Sept. 9 at BMO Field in Toronto, which will be followed on Nov. 18 by a friendly against Panama in Panama City.