Written by Carlo Campo
If there was one thing that I’m sure many Canada fans were hoping for last night, it was a performance that would destroy the bitter taste that had been left in their mouths following two scoreless draws against Puerto Rico and St. Kitts and Nevis.
It’s a great shame that two shaky performances have stolen so much spotlight from what has essentially been in a respectable campaign in the second round of qualifying. But it can be easily understood. In a group that featured the likes of St. Lucia, Puerto Rico, and St. Kitts and Nevis, any stumble - no matter how small - would inevitably lead to cries of “there’s no chance in hell we’ll qualify for Brazil 2014!”
A 4-0 victory over St. Kitts and Nevis last night at BMO Field in front of 10, 235 fans will hopefully silence those who believe that they can draw all sorts of conclusions about our national team based on the scoreline of six matches against Caribbean minnows.
It’s hard to see how the haters can hate in a match where Dwayne De Rosario tied Dale Mitchell’s record as the national team’s all-time leading scorer with 19 goals, Tosaint Ricketts scored in his first start, Canada scored and created chances from open play, and the team recorded their fifth consecutive clean sheet. But I’m sure there are those who will choose to focus on the lack of action throughout the second half.
Maybe it’s the Moneyball or Soccernomics in me, but I’ve come to believe that we can draw more conclusions about Canada’s national team by analyzing the statistics than by nitpicking certain performances.
So now that the second round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying is over, let’s look at some of those statistics.
Of the 19 teams that participated in the second round, Canada conceded the fewest amount of goals with only 1, a goal that head coach Stephen Hart described as “a magic goal” in the post-match press conference.
Of the 19 teams, Canada had the second best goal differential with +17. Only Antigua and Barbuda had a better differential of +21. In a round where thrashings were a common occurrence, I would argue there isn’t much difference between being first or fifth in this category.
And of the 19 teams, Canada had the longest shutout streak of 533 minutes, a streak that will continue into the third round and is only 8 minutes shy of breaking our national team’s record that was set back in 1996-97.
So while you can go ahead and argue that Canada’s overall performance in the second round wasn’t good enough, I would say that the statistics suggest otherwise. I’m not trying to argue that we’ll qualify for the World Cup or that comparing our national team’s statistics to those of tiny islands says anything about the squad. I’m merely trying to point out that Canada’s performance in the second round deserves some applause.
Scoreless draws against Puerto Rico and St. Kitts and Nevis aren’t pretty. But as I’ve mentioned before, Honduras tied Puerto Rico 2-2 in the second round of their 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign and still made it to South Africa.
Upcoming Third Round
Canada now finds itself in a group with Honduras, Cuba, and Panama, where two of the four teams will advance to the “Hex”.
While the venues for the matches remain unknown, the team’s first match will be away to Cuba on Friday, June 8. Why not grab a dirt cheap last-minute deal to Varadero and drive to Havana for the game?
Canada will then return to play at home against Honduras four days later.
On Friday, September 7 and Tuesday, September 11, Canada will play at home to Panama and away to Panama, respectively.
And on Friday, October 12, the team will face Cuba at home before traveling to Honduras to wrap up their campaign.
- twelfthplayer posted this