Just wanted to chime in briefly with thoughts of the Canada Men’s National Team (CanMNT) still fresh in memory. As you all know, this is an Arsenal blog that has a secondary focus on our national teams, so if you’re uninterested in the “national” coverage feel free to check back again later! Also will say a quick shout-out to the few Arsenal-clad football fans I met around the stadium throughout the night; if you gentleman are checking out the blog, much appreciated!
As an Edmonton resident, I was lucky to have CanMNT in town tonight for a friendly against Costa Rica. With Canada being led by interim head coach (and FC Edmonton manager) Colin Miller, and with our recent exit from WC2014 qualifying, it was expected to see some young new talent in the team tonight and that’s exactly what we got. From a CRC perspective, they too had long-term goals in mind with significant qualifying games coming in the next few weeks. That being said, the match was still entertaining and it was nice to see some of our best domestic talent playing “in person” for a change.
I don’t want to get too in-depth with the game, but I will touch on a couple points. Canada looked alright going forward, save for some wasted opportunities following good build-up play, and I rather liked the play of both Edmonton-native Randy Edwini-Bonsu as well as that of Calgary-born Issey Nakajima-Farran (one of the best names in football). Our defense however was poor and remains an area the national team is going to have to fortify; obviously having a full-time coach will go a long way to alleviating those systematic mistakes. Also, shout out to Toronto FC’s Jonathan Osorio who earned his first senior team cap tonight – well done!
Canada was a victim of a rather soft penalty shout which was dispatched well by Los Ticos’ Jairo Arrieta. There were cries for retribution when a shoulder-challenge in the box spilled a Canadian forward during the second half, though for me it would have been an even more dubious decision. As well, Canada surely should have entered the break at 1-1 when Andre Hainault missed a glorious opportunity to equalize after getting free from his man on a set piece; mistiming the free header and leaving Canada to remain at the eventual final score of 0-1.
One other sour note to the evening was the constant playacting on part of the Costa Rican players. I really hate to feed a stereotype of Central and/or South Americna players being notorious for simulation, but it was on display tonight and unfortunately the American (U.S.) official was willing to buy it. Particularly guilty was the CRC keeper, who was grazed by an on-rushing Nakajima-Farran and proceeded to roll theatrically on the ground, get up and kick the ball out of bounds, then resume rolling on the ground again. You cannot make this stuff up! He was back on his feet and resuming play within a minute with barely a glance from the Costa Rican medical/training personnel. It’s a shameful and embarrassing display that was an identical copy to some silliness witnessed in the Vancouver WhiteCaps game earlier this season against (I believe) FC Dallas. FIFA needs to get serious and start reprimanding simulation with video review after the fact… if they have any intention of doing more than paying lip-service to the idea of ridding the game of ‘diving’.
Anyway, the evening was great fun and the home attendance of 8,102 is a decent turnout (despite the empty-looking stadium of 50,000 seats). Glad to see some local football and I hope those of you who caught the game here in Edmonton, or on Sportsnet, enjoyed yourselves as well.