The best offence is a good defence
Canada head coach Dale Mitchell explained his tactics suggesting that in the second half, “We coped a little bit better with what they tried to do, which was to get in behind us. We had to drop back a little bit to make that happen.”
Pleased with the effort and not at all despondent with the result, Mitchell continued. “We achieved the two things that we wanted to tonight. We wanted to give the boys the chance to play in a stadium where they will play their first game in front of a boisterous and pro-Canadian crowd and we also wanted to play against an opponent who will be similar to our first opponent in the world championship, which will be Chile. I don’t think we could have brought a better one than Argentina. They are a top team. They caused us some problems but I was proud with how our boys coped with it, competed and played with a lot of energy. At times we caused them some problems and overall the match was positive for us.”
Mitchell noted that FC Toronto’s Andrea Lombardo, along with Rushden & Diamonds' Jackson and Ipswich Town’s Jaime Peters in midfield, had good games. And looking ahead to this summer’s tournament, Mitchell commented, “There are no easy matches for a country like Canada even though we’re hosting. We’ll get a boost from the crowd as we did tonight. We have to play well for 90 minutes; tonight we gave up a goal in the last few minutes. This is sometimes a problem for us and not only for 90 minutes but [we need to play] three times 90 minutes in one week at a very high level.”
Grass roots Argentines no fans of FieldTurf
The FieldTurf synthetic surface was controversial. Argentine head coach Hugo Tocalli was complementary about the Canadian team but less so about BMO Field. He felt “the synthetic field will bring complications and that, actually, football is played on the grass field, not on a synthetic one.”
Argentine defender Matias Sanchez felt that there was “too much bounce” to the ball on the hard field.
The match was the first international and second ever game at BMO Field, following the FC Toronto Major League Soccer match a few weeks ago. Before the game, FIFA and CONCACAF officials, in town for the CONCACAF Congress, dedicated Canada’s national soccer stadium, with Canadian Soccer Association officials. The setting is simply magical. From the west stands, you have the backdrop of the CN Tower and downtown Toronto, while just meters away is the Lake Ontario shoreline.
The sellout crowd of 20,055 was pro Canada, unlike past international matches in Toronto where most fans backed the opponent. They stomped their feet on the metal stands and chanted throughout the match, surprising even Sportsnet commentators Gerry Dobson and Craig Forrest. Begovic suggested, “The atmosphere was unbelievable. The crowd helped us out a lot.”
Set amidst the aging Canadian National Exhibition grounds, BMO Field will help galvanize the development of a culture that supports Canadian club and international soccer. With similar soccer specific stadiums coming in Vancouver and Montreal, the sport’s future in the country is looking brighter indeed.
The loss to Argentina comes on the heels of a 2–1 setback to Scotland at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria, Mar. 27 and the 3–1 victory over the Scots at Percy Place Stadium, Coquitlam BC, three days earlier. Other matches in the series include two dates with the USA (June 3, Ottawa and June 6, Kingston) while the final tune-up will be June 18 at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium against the Czech Republic.
©2007 WFP / Forever Red / Tim Grainey