As the classic cartoon Animaniacs taught us back in the mid-1990s, the line between a good idea and a bad idea can be very thin indeed.
So, hearing that Canada beat Mauritania by a 4-0 scoreline—or maybe even seeing it, if you happened to be among the few dozen who caught the midday webstream of Thursday’s empty-stadium friendly from Morocco—may cause a person to draw certain conclusions.
Some of them are good ideas. And, well, some of them are bad ideas.
Good idea: Being happy about the result
Sure, this game means very little in the grand scheme of things, but a fanbase that’s become accustomed to disappointment (most recently, last month’s elimination from 2018 World Cup qualifying) is certainly entitled to smile today.
Bad idea: Going down the “what if?” rabbit hole
What if this team had shown this sort of attacking aptitude in World Cup qualifying? What if former head coach Benito Floro had “unleashed” his attackers? What if Canada played World Cup qualifying in the African region instead of CONCACAF and could routinely face Mauritania?
What’s done is done. You’re only hurting yourself by dwelling on the past.
Good idea: Dreaming about what this could mean
Interim head coach Michael Findlay has said he’d like the team to adopt a more attack-focused mind set in the years to come, so it’s perfectly reasonable to wonder whether this could be a small glimpse of the team’s potential. But…
Bad idea: Assuming this result is infinitely replicable
Facing an anonymous opponent in front of zero fans in a game with nothing on the line has a way of loosening players up. But a meaningful showdown in a raucous environment calls for a much different approach. In other words, yes, 4-0 wins will continue to be rarities for Canada.
Good idea: Penciling inexperienced players into the team’s depth chart
Simon Thomas stopped a penalty kick. Maxim Tissot looked lively at left back. Jamar Dixon and Fraser Aird looked capable at right back. Jonathan Osorio slotted comfortably into the Canadian midfield, while Marco Bustos, Jordan Hamilton and Anthony Jackson-Hamel all got some minutes. All could play roles looking forward.
Bad idea: Throwing the non-babies out with the bathwater
A bit of roster turnover is natural at the end of any World Cup qualifying campaign. But this one game is certainly not cause for getting way ahead of ourselves. The youngsters will get chances to earn their spots, but the reality is that veterans will continue to play key roles in big games for the foreseeable future.
Good idea: Getting Scott Arfield, Junior Hoilett and Steven Vitoria on board
This is a retroactive kudos to the Canadian Soccer Association for convincing these three experienced players to come on board. Despite the qualifying campaign being over, all three appear committed to the program and all three showed their value to the team in the Mauritania friendly.
Bad idea: Closing the door on anyone
For a long time, Hoilett and Vitoria turned their backs on their birth nation; now they’re both regular contributors. If the main purpose of a national team is to have international success, a Canadian program in constant search of greater depth simply can’t afford to hold grudges.
Good idea: Playing in every international window
In the past, the men’s national team has gone silent for months on end. The CSA has now said it wants to reverse that trend; rumors are already floating about who Canada may play in a pair of November friendlies. It’s a necessary move to help the ongoing player evaluation efforts, and it’s also a great excuse for members of the Voyageurs to skip work and share nerdy in-jokes on social media.
Bad idea: Prematurely anointing the next full-time manager
Findlay has been a loyal servant of Canadian soccer for over a decade, working mostly in the youth ranks. He was certainly vocal during Thursday’s friendly, and has suggested he’d love to take the full-time managerial role if it was offered to him.
But however much blood a four-goal win may send rushing to the heads of Canadian soccer supporters, let’s not forget this was Findlay’s second game ever in charge of a senior men’s team. His third is on Tuesday. Everyone please cool their jets.
Good/bad idea: Seeing how this all plays out
Canada’s next game is on Tuesday, against Morocco. Then, hopefully two more in November. Then, not too long from now, the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. The 2018 World Cup is a write-off for Canada, but the men’s national team shouldn’t be.
Following this team is quite often a frustrating endeavor, but if you’re looking to fully appreciate the ecstasy when Canada does finally and conclusively turn the corner, right now is a great time to get in on the ground floor.