Canada pleased with new start, looks to future

Action from the international friendly between Canada (white jersey) and host Bermuda on January 22, 2017, in Devonshire. (Photo: Bernews)

DEVONSHIRE, Bermuda – As Canada opened 2017 with a 4-2 over Bermuda on Sunday, it’s wasn’t just a new experience for the five players making their first international appearances. It also presented something new to one of its veterans.

Defender Adam Straith, in his 41st international appearance, was thrust into a new situation when he had to play goalkeeper after Sean Melvin came off injured in a 55th-minute sequence that saw the host level at 2-2. Canada brought on Melvin at halftime to replace starter Callum Irving and had no other goalkeeper options, so Straith put his hand up to volunteer.

“I had never even worn keeper gloves. That was the first time,” said Straith, who was good natured about the predicament. “I think you could probably see that with my attempt at a punch (save).”

The fact that the true debutants performed admirably, however, provided a boost to Canada’s initial preparations for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup and, eventually, the 2022 World Cup qualification cycle. Four different players got their names on the scoresheet, with three of those netting for the first time in an international.

Toronto FC midfielder Jay Chapman scored the 75th-minute winner and the Montreal Impact’s Anthony Jackson-Hamel netted an insurance goal with two minutes remaining in normal time.

“We play football to win but along the way we look for opportunities to learn and grow and that was an opportunity,” said Michael Findlay, Canada’s interim head coach. “We had an opportunity to put five players on the field who hadn’t played senior games for Canada before and not a better way to learn about CONCACAF for some of them.”

The Bermuda game wrapped up a 10-day long training camp that started in Florida with 27-players and was trimmed down to 18 just before the team travelled to Bermuda on Thursday.

Overall, Findlay was pleased with the performance, especially how his team responded to playing without a true goalkeeper for most of the second half against Bermuda.

“We need to be tested, we need to face dilemmas, and we need to find a way to solve those problems and that's exactly what we did,” he finished. “We are very pleased at the end of the day to have won the football match."