Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Canada, if not U.S, remembers 2007 match.

Canadian international midfielder Julian de Guzman has seen the replay so many times that he has had his fill of it.

Atiba Hutchinson thought he had just equalized against the United States in the fifth minute of injury time in the 2007 Gold Cup semifinals, only to have the goal ruled offside by Mexican referee Benito Archundia. Instead of forcing extra time, the game ended 30 seconds later with the Canadians gutted.

The United States went on to win the title and represent CONCACAF in the 2009 Confederations Cup.

If the Canadians are thinking retribution in both teams' Gold Cup opener on Tuesday in Detroit -- their first confrontation against their sourthern neighbors since the match, they hid it well Monday.

"I've seen enough of it to finally put it aside and to move on," De Guzman said. "That's how it is in life. There are things you've just got to put aside and carry on and wish for another opportunity.

"There's another opportunity for us again for us to prove ourselves that we belong in the top of with the rest of CONCACAF. This will be a good test for us. We couldn't ask for a better way to start this Gold Cup against one of our top rivals."

Midfielder Dwayne De Rosario said that hopes his teammates don't let their emotions get to them about that call four years ago.

"The one thing about this game tomorrow, We can't let our emotions get the best of us," he said. That's when you get burned and you get exposed because you're trying to do too much. It's very important that we keep composed, stick to our game plan and we play the way we know how to play."

The Canadians did get something out of the game -- a big boost to their confidence.

"It was a big spark that we could run with the big boys, best in the world as well, and the U.S. is among the best in the world," De Guzman said. "But then again, that was four years ago. I think we have a better side this tournament. a lot of young and up and coming talent, guys who have done well on their clubs. . . . We have more depth as well."
The Americans did not feel the Canadians' thoughts of avenging the 2007 match, only that their opponents matched up well and would give them a run for their money.

"They have some good players," goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "They are very much in our mold as well -- a dogged, hard-working team. They have some European experience, some MLS guys in the mix. I think it will be an interesting game. It will be a good battle. Physcially, it will be a good battle."

It might not have necessarily the passion of the Mexico-U.S. derby, but Canada-U.S. is a big deal, say the Canadian players.

"It's not a big deal for the team, but for the country," he said. "It's always a healthy rivalry. I think that in any sport, U.S. against Canada is always a little bit of an edge and it won't be any different tomorrow."

De Rosario said it was difficult to gauge how many Canadians will come over from nearby Windsor, Ontario and parts north, west and east and cheer on their heroes in what has been dubbed the Border War or Border Clash.

"Hopefully, Canadian fans come in and show their support," he said. "The main thing is getting the Canadian fans behind us and hopefully we'll see them show up in numbers and show their support. It's a huge game. We're definitely going to need our 12th man, which is the fans there to support us."

While the Border War has been getting much of the attention here, there is another game on Tuesday -- the opening match between Panama and Guadeloupe.

The Central American side has reached at least the quarterfinals the past three Gold Cups, losing to the United States in the final on penalty kicks in 2005.
Guadeloupe was the sensation of the 2007 Gold Cup, playing giant killer and reaching the semifinals.

Panama national coach Julio Dely Valdes expects the Caribbean island to be a difficult challenge.

"They're a strong team with a lot of velocity who will try to repeat the performance in the '07 tournament, which I think was very good performance for them," he said.

Actually, Guadeloupe would love to have a repeat of its 2009 opener, when it defeated Panama 2-1.

"We know if we win the first game, we have a good chance to qualify for the second round," midfielder Stephane Auvray said. "We will do our best to try to come out with a victory like two years ago."

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