Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Friendly Fire

Mood: Content and Happy
State Of Mind: Optimistic for the next two matches
Location: Satisfied Supporter Sofa

Were you there? Did you come join us and your fellow supporters at BMO Field Sunday night? If you didn't you missed a fun night of excited fans, satisfying football, great atmosphere and a gift from the weather gods. 

If you weren't there then hopefully you're already making plans to attend on June 12th for the Honduras match and if you're not - why the hell not? If there is ever a time to come out to BMO it is now as our Men's National team strive to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. As much as I live and die for TFC there is just something different about supporting your country - it's a different feeling, a different vibe and can be some of the best experiences you can have as not just a lover of the beautiful game but as a supporter of Canadian sports.

As is tradition the afternoon began at Maro in Liberty Village for beer, food and getting pumped with friends old and new. It was great to see so many of the new super sharp centenary kits, flags, Voyageurs scarves throughout the excited crowd. And what a crowd it was.

One of the best things about going to the pre-game is to feed off the buzz of your fellow supporters. If you're not excited before you arrive you definitely are by the time you head off to BMO; and no that's not just the beer.

The weather gods did indeed smile upon us Sunday night when the ongoing threat of (and actual) rain dissipated and we were blessed with blue skies and some brilliant sunshine for the beginning of the match.  Most of those around me were excited and looking forward to seeing our boys out on the pitch. Before the game started there was a very nice moment honouring the past of Canadian football with the introduction of Jason DeVos, Alex Bunbury, Bob Iarusci, Paul Saltieri and others - it was great to see the crowd applaud and celebrate some of the men that have helped to pave the way for the current crop of Canadian footballers.

Pleasantries out of the way it was time to turn our attention to the real task at hand; making fun of the US team in their Waldo-esque kits. I can't be 100% certain but I do believe the "Where is Waldo" chant originated somewhere in the general vicinity of where I was standing (not by me of course, honest!) but it was quickly taken up by the rest of the supporters in the south stands - fun! :)

 The first half saw the US controlling the game and getting the first chance at a goal when Edgar Castilo send a shot that Lars Hirschfeld just tipped over the bar and all of us breath a collective sigh of relief.  As the half progressed our boys in Blue (have I mentioned how much I LOVE those centenary kits?) began to take back control mostly due to the excellent work of Tosaint Ricketts and Olivier Ocean up front and Nik Ledgerwood who played a great two-way game in the midfield. In fact it was Ledgerwood that appeared to have put Canada on the score sheet 35 minutes in when he pounced on a loose ball and easily put the ball past Howard only to have it not count due to a mystery foul called on DeRosario. Obviously more Concacaf conspiracy (actually just typical poor Concacaf refereeing) at work. This of course brought a chorus of boos raining down from us, especially as the goal and the "foul" happened almost right in front of the supporters in the south stands. However Canada continued to press and keep possession and the game went into the half with no score.

During the half (and from the outset of the match actually) I and some of the folk I was watching the game with wondered why Coach Hart wouldn't put Simeon Jackson out to start, commented on the excellent play of Ledgerwood as well as David Edgar (and the entire backline) and shockingly very few had anything negative to say about JDG - it felt pretty good to have mostly positive things to say about well any team that we support and watch at BMO.

The second half saw our boys continue to press and neutralize any attempts by the US to put the ball on net; in fact the much vaunted pairing of Dempsey and Donovan was all but invisible for the majority of the match.  The backline of Edgar, McKenna, Hainault and Jazic was excellent and put in a very complete game and were instrumental along with DeGuzman, Johnson and Ledgerwood in keeping the Americans off the scoreboard.  Canada had a few missed chances in the second; both Ricketts and Simeon Jackson (subbed on in the 65th minute) sent shots just wide.  In fact the lack of finishing was really the only off note about Canada's game on Sunday and will need to be much sharper in the upcoming WCQ matches.

All in all it was a very positive performance against a much better team. You could argue that the US team was tired (playing their 3rd game in 8 days) but they never seemed to have any answers or creativity and couldn't handle the midfield presence by our boys.  And again standout performances by Nik Ledgerwood and Tosaint Ricketts who both ranged all over the field and gave the US defense and offense fits deserve another mention. One other note was the first cap (although not official as it was only a friendly) of 17 yr. old Samuel Piette when he was subbed on in the 86th minute. Although he didn't really have much (if anything) to do it was somewhat heartwarming to see the youngster out there.

The match ended and all that I saw were happy (well slightly disappointed that they didn't win) fans all around me. It was a good start to Canada's WCQ campaign and hopefully the strong performance against their rivals from the south will keep their confidence high heading into their first important match in Cuba this Friday at 2pm.  But none of that matters just yet; what matters is that we got to see a solid, positive performance by our boys and other than the disallowed goal (really ref? really?) I can find nothing on the night that I'm really unhappy about. Yes I would have liked a win and some goals but I'll take a solid 0-0 result any time. It was a great night out at BMO with my fellow fans & friends and just a great way to start the year for our Men's National Team.  If this doesn't get you pumped for the match against Honduras on the 12th - well what's wrong with you?  If you haven't bought tickets yet get thee to the Interwebs immediately and get prepared to pack BMO - see you there!

See Thee Rise

Friendly Links: If you haven't already read these (and really, why not) here are you usual suspects with their thoughts on the match: The Yorkies, Waking The Red and Red Nation Online.

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