CSA Announces 5th Friendly of 2013

With Edmonton friendly, the Canadian Men's National Team continues its rebuilding course
by Henrik Lonne   |   Thursday, April 04, 2013

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When Canada steps on the field in Edmonton, it will be its fifth game of the year. In comparison, the fifth game of 2012 was in August, in 2011 it was mid-June and in 2010 it was in September!

On top of these games, Canada will play at least 3 group stage games at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and should make it at least to the quarterfinals. The FIFA calendar allows for 7 friendly games in August, September, October and November, meaning Canada could play a minimum of 15 games in 2013, even if the Gold Cup run should end without a spot in the quarterfinal.

If the Canadian Soccer Association uses all the dates it can, it would be the most games Canada has played since 1993. The difference between this year and other years with a double-digit number of games is that the others have been World Cup Qualifying years, with a vast majority of the games being those WCQ matches. The last time Canada played more than 6 friendlies in a year was 2003 with 7 exhibition games.

Playing 12 friendlies in a year would be unprecedented for Canada, but given Canada’s recent soccer history, unprecedented isn’t a bad thing.

The large number of friendlies would allow the CSA to bring games to fans across the country, as the game in Edmonton should be followed with games in Vancouver, Montreal and even Moncton. The CSA should, however, also stage friendlies in Caribbean and Central American countries in order to expose the players to the environment.

Just as the friendly at the Azteca has been credited for removing the fear of the place for US players, a similar thing could be done for Canada, with the most intriguing (and frightening) idea being a friendly in Honduras. Playing Costa Rica will also serve as a better preparation for playing in CONCACAF, rather than the usual Eastern European opponents.

However, as is often the case with soccer in Canada, you have to take the sweet with the sour. While the 6 p.m. MST start works well for the TV viewers in the East for a mid-week clash, the timing of the game is bad for local fans as it offers very little time to get to the stadium after getting off work.

Obviously many factors play in when determining the time of kickoff. But one could have hoped that the first game outside of Quebec and Ontario since the 2-2 tie against Mexico in a WCQ in Edmonton 2008 could have been planned in a way that would have given the CSA the best chances of drawing a crowd.

Nevertheless, this will hopefully be the first of many games for Canada around the country, which would be a boost both for the team and the fans support.

Henrik LONNE

Copenhagen Business School
Club Domestic:
AGF Aarhus
Club Foreign:
Toronto FC
Born and raised in Denmark, the US performance in the 2002 World Cup dragged Henrik into the world of North American soccer. Subsequent trips to Canada made him a Toronto FC fan from abroad. The passion he now has for MLS outshines most European leagues.