Canada u20 action onfield and in the stands
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Canada couldn't beat
former champions,
Argentina, but they put
on a show worthy of
their new digs and
an unusually large,
partisan crowd
A most acceptable Canadian defeat

Tim Grainey, WFP/Forever Red, May 17, 2007

Canada’s u20 squad gave Argentina a tough battle May 11 at Toronto’s BMO Field, before falling to a late Argentine match-clincher, in the third of the six-game tour for the hosts of the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Canada fell behind in the early going via a 14' minute gift to forward, Alejandro Gomez, who collected an errant pass near the right sideline and lofted a floater over the out-of-position Asmir Begovic. Canada kept attacking the Argentines and duly knotted the score four minutes later on penalty kick from Kitchener native and Newcastle United defender, David Edgar. For the rest of the half, both teams had chances with Argentina mixing inventive individual dribbling with dangerous long balls. Canada countered with strong play down the right involving defender Nana Attakora-Gyan, midfielder Simeon Jackson and forward Andrea Lombardo.
In the second half, Canada retreated to its own end, at times leaving only one player up for counter-attacks. Begovic, on the books of the EPL's Portsmouth but currently loaned out to Macclesfield, made a full stretch save at 71' to deny Argentina the insurance. He again saved a certain goal at 82' with a leaping, one-handed parry over the net attoning for his own poor goal kick. Unfortunately Begovic could not save Canada at 88" when Gabriel Mercado’s shot found the back of his net. Despite some late attacks including a couple of corner-kicks, Canada couldn't find the equalizer and finished the inaugural national affair at BMO Field with a 2–1 loss.
Argentina dominated the shots statistics 14–5, but overall, Canada played well and strung some dangerous attacks together with strong passing against a repeat world champion.

"We achieved the two things that we wanted to tonight... to play in a stadium where they will play their first game in front of a boisterous and pro-Canadian crowd... and an opponent similar to our first opponent in the world championship "
- Dale Mitchell
Canada u20 Head Coach

The FIFA u20 World Cup
kicks off June 30 with matches in Ottawa and Montreal.

Other venues include Toronto, Edmonton, Burnaby and Victoria.

Canada’s Group round:
July 1 vs. Chile in Toronto
July 5 vs. Austria in Edmonton
July 8 vs. Congo in Edmonton

The Third Place match and Final will be held as a doubleheader July 22 at Toronto’s BMO Field.

link to CSA's TheKick.Yahoo fan photo website
Visit the link above, during the tournament, for the CSA
catch-all fan photo galleries

BMO Field
(Canada's National Stadium)
Location: Exhibition Place, Toronto, Ontario
Owner: City of Toronto
Mgmt: Maple Leaf Sports &
Entertainment Ltd.
Capacity: 20,148
Cost: $68 million
Size: 75 x 115 (yards)
Field: FIFA-approved FieldTurf

Club premiere: April 28, 2007
Toronto FC 0–1 Kansas City
MLS 2007 season

Canada premiere: May 12, 2007
Canada 1–2 Argentina
u20 International Friendly

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

Artist's rendition of Canada's new national stadium, to be known in the land of sponsorball as BMO Field, forever and an eternity, or at least until the nice bank doesn't like football anymore, at which point we'll rename it Dick Park, after everyone who ever thought it was ok to sell out public and national treasures to corporate interests

picture source: BMO website