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Team Canada: See thee Rise (2019)

Greetings from Canada on this Labor Day weekend and I’m delighted to bring you a fresh update from my Football Manger Story. We ended up last time with Canada losing 2-0 to the US in the final game of the 2018 fixture list which was mainly due to a lack of experience and depth in key positions.

This year is going to be an extremely busy one as we have a full slate of friendlies organized including trips to China and New Zealand as well as The Gold Cup competition in June and ironically we will end up playing Trinidad & Tobago twice this year.

Full Gold Cup 2019 Draw

February 2019

Our first game of the international season was a way to Trinidad where I awarded a first cap to unknown striker Mark Butterfield who would play around 25 minutes of the second half. In a game of two halves with Trinidad enjoying the first, we finally overcame our hosts with two superb counter attacking moves which were both finished off brilliantly by Hoilett and Tiebert in the final 20 minutes.

Following the win over Trinidad was a satisfying draw away to Costa Rica though we had numerous chances to win the game. Less than satisfying was another goalless draw at home to Panama where we lacked any inspiration in the final third and my front men were almost invisible for much of the game.

Gold Cup 2019

Finally a first taste of senior international competition and we had been drawn in Group B alongside Trinidad, hosts USA and Haiti who we would play against in that order.

Our opening game was at Mile High Stadium in Denver and once more the first half was a frustrating affair watching the attacks fizzle out in the final third of the field. A very stern Half Time team talk produced the desired outcome as Doniel Henry headed us into the lead two minutes after the restart. Trinidad proved to be worthy opponents, though were equally lacking up front and we finally got the insurance goal with a smashing diving header from Adam Jackman in the 71st minute to give us the start we needed.

A partisan crowd of over 17,000 was on hand in the Motor City stadium, Detroit as we faced the US who had drawn their opening game with Haiti. We took the game to the Americans early on with DiPlacido missing an open goal within the first 15 minutes. The US rarely gave anything for GK Edson to worry about and after 29 minutes a breakaway by Junior Hoillet was superbly finished off by Galloway and we held on to that lead until half time.

Following the interval we continued to have the upper hand and made good on our possession with Russ Tiebert turning in a Hoillet cross to make it 2-0. The Detroit crowd was simply stunned. Trouble though was brewing as left back De Jong was physically drained and before I could get him off the US took advantage of that with De Jong conceding a penalty, 2-1. With the chants of “USA..USA..USA” reverberating around the stadium they quickly made it 2-2 though DiPlacido had a great chance to win the game but his shot was cleared off the line by the outstretched leg of an American defender. We had just been plain unlucky and could have knocked the US out of the tournament.

With 5 points apiece our final group game was against Haiti and a draw would be good enough for both of us to escape the group. However right winger Adam Jackman was in no mood to settle for a draw and simply terrorized the Haitian left back for the entire first half creating a penalty which he converted himself and through an incisive counter attacking move set up a first international goal for TFC Academy striker Mark Butterfield. Defender Michael Rodriguez would also score his first international goal before Haiti got a consolation goal themselves.

Any hopes of Gold Cup glory came to an abrupt end in Bellevue, Washington as we were give a lesson in finishing by Costa Rica whom having only 4 shots on scored twice whereas we had 17 and only managed a consolation goal through youngster Mark Butterfield, the only real bright spot of this quarter-final.

Mexico would go onto win the Gold Cup quite comfortably against Jamaica who surprisingly knocked out the US in the quarter-final stage as well and they immediately sacked their head coach. I fared much better, receiving the support of the CSA which means I’ll be able to begin our World Cup quest at the helm.

Following the Gold Cup we headed off to China though I wished we hadn’t bothered as the only takeaway from this game was a lesson in passing and finishing as we lost 3-0.

September 2019 saw another long away trip for us as ventured south to New Zealand where Montreal Impacts, Brazilian turned Canadian Alex dos Santos made his debut in the second half. The 29 year old striker didn’t disappoint scoring four second half goals as we went on a barn-storming rampage that even made the Maori warriors look nervous. Is Dos Santos suddenly the key to World Cup qualification?

Four days later we were back at BMO Field for the visit of Ecuador whom having fallen behind twice to superb gaols from Josh Galloway and youngster Ben McIntosh making is first team debut fought back to command a 4-2 lead by mid-way through the second half. But in a brilliant display of guts and determination we never gave up and scored two dramatic counter –attacking goals in injury time for memorable comeback to the delight of the capacity crowd on hand.

The remaining fixtures of 2019 were far less compelling or dramatic and in fact we failed to score in all three of them. Most of the year had been spent rotating and experimenting with less experienced players and although we had some limited success left me wondering whether to recall some of those who had been left in the international wilderness?

The draw for the Third Phase of the World Cup North American qualifiers was completed just before the end of the year and we had landed in reasonable group, though Costa Rica will prove to be difficult. Mexico and the USA were drawn in the same group and with the top two qualifying for the next round I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the US will slip up and be eliminated.

World Cup: Phase Three Draw

So that completes a look at 2019 and thanks very much for taking the time to read this update. Next time I’ll post up what I think my best 22 players will be for the Road to Qatar.

PS: Seattle won the MLS Cup beating Toronto FC in the final.

 

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Darren Smith
8 years ago

Unlucky in the Gold Cup Kevin but a valiant effort all the same. I think there are positives to take from those results and while you need a stronger squad they can cause an upset on their day.

saltwater
saltwater
8 years ago

Costa Rica were always going to be a challenge but you’ve lead Canada to top of their group – something I doubt you predeccesor or any other manager could have done. And you’ll finish second at least in your World Cup third phase group for sure, maybe even first.
This story is leading somewhere and there is success on the cards for sure, I think trying to win the Gold Cup next time round is realistic.
And two important goals in stoppage time? Sound familiar? I’m calling it City-esque :)

Ana Garcia
8 years ago

Oh bad luck Kevin!

At least you will get a chance of revenge on Costa Rica in the qualification group! You should progress through that and am looking forward to seeing if you can take Canada to the World cup.

Good luck!! :)

Bhargav
Bhargav
8 years ago

Hey Kevin!

I’m sorry about the Costa Rica match :( Your team is definitely capable of beating but that’s the problem with international matches — you get only one chance and then it’s a wait of x years.

Tegar Triemanudigdo
8 years ago

Ahh, it’s a shame that you get beaten by Costa Rica there. But at least you did what the board expected and good luck with the WC campaign there. I think it’s going to be one heck of road there!

CsAtlantis
8 years ago

You did a decent job in the Gold Cup, I think CSA was expecting you to get booted out in the group stages, unlucky in the quarter final but you’ll get the chance to exact some revenge on Costa Rica, things might be different with dos Santos around…….

Galloway’s been quite brilliant I must say, can you post Hoilett’s profile? Would like to see how he’s doing in your save :D

Good luck Kevin, I believe you can qualify for the World Cup in Qatar!

Johnny Karp
8 years ago

That was a good Gold Cup performance, finishing top of the group I mean. Costa Rica have a good football tradition and they are quite tough to beat. However, you should finish inside the top two in that qualification group. Canada at the World Cup, fingers crossed! :)

TheZiggy
8 years ago

It seems you were extremely unlucky to lose against Costa Rica in the Gold Cup. Although the last few results were disappointing, I believe you are making progress. To also only end up with a draw against the USA was also unlucky too, so the chances of qualifying for the World Cup still look reasonable.

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