Canada U-20's lose CONCACAF opener


CSA & Whitecaps FC

Canada's U-20 men's national team suffered a disappointing 1-0 defeat to hosts Trinidad & Tobago in their opening Group B match at the 2009 CONCACAF U-20 Championship on Saturday.

Midfielder Sean de Silva – who was a teammate of new Vancouver Whitecaps FC men's team signing Wes Knight at College of Charleston – scored Trinidad & Tobago's match winner from a free kick in the late stages of the contest at Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya, Trinidad. The result took the Soca Warriors into a share of the lead in Group B, with Costa Rica also claiming maximum points after a 1-0 victory over Mexico in Saturday's other match.

Canadian U-20 head coach Tony Fonseca named four Whitecaps players in his starting XI on Saturday. The Whitecaps Residency duo of centre back Adam Straith and midfielder Philippe Davies earned starts against the Caribbean nation, while Fonseca played the pairing of Residency striker Randy Edwini-Bonsu and new men's team signing Marcus Haber in attack.

Playing on the Marvin Lee Stadium turf, it was T&T that made a bright start before Edwini-Bonsu created a chance for Canada on 11 minutes when he shot wide of the target. The tournament hosts continued to apply pressure, with Haber receiving a yellow card on 17 minutes after conceding a foul, but T&T were unable to make the most of the awarded free kick.

While Canadian goalkeeper Adam Street was kept busy at his end, midfielder Shaun Saiko created two chances for Fonseca's side in minutes 24 and 33, but both opportunities were not converted.

The Soca Warriors were then unlucky with two good chances of their own on 42 and 43 minutes, while Edwini-Bonsu had one last opportunity just before halftime for Canada, as both sides eventually went to the break deadlocked at 0-0.

The second half saw more chances created at both ends, with Edwini-Bonsu forcing the T&T defenders to clear his dangerous byline cutback on 56 minutes.

At the midway point of the half, Edwini-Bonsu took a Canadian throw-in on the left before crossing the ball for Haber. His strike partner's header forced the Soca Warriors goalkeeper to tip the ball over his own crossbar. From the ensuing corner, the young Canadians came close to scoring from a scramble in the T&T box, but the home side were able to clear the danger.

Street then had to be alert to stop a Trinidad & Tobago free kick on 72 minutes, but the game's decisive moment came ten minutes later after Davies conceded another free kick on the edge of the Canadian box, with the Whitecaps player earning a yellow card as a result. de Silva stepped up to strike the set-piece past the Canadian wall and into the top corner of Street's goal to give T&T a valuable opening-day win.

Fonseca felt his side were not at their best on Saturday. "It's definitely not a good day for us, as we didn't have a good game today," the former Whitecaps men's team head coach told reporters after the match. "Trinidad & Tobago started really well and carried their play right through the whole game. All of the teams here would like to win their first game, but we were unable to. However, in a tournament like this, things remain open. We have to forget about today's defeat and move on to our next game."

With Saturday's defeat, the young Canadians now face a crucial match versus Mexico on Monday. Canada need to finish in the top two in Group B in order to qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt later this year. "We saw Mexico today and they are a team that we can definitely beat," Edwini-Bonsu said after Saturday's defeat. "Monday's game will certainly be 'do or die' for both teams, so we'll have to be up for that match, as we need to win to have a hope of going to the U-20 World Cup. We'll need to recover and focus on that, which we will do tomorrow."

It was also a disappointing start to the CONCACAF U-20 Championship for Whitecaps striker Dever Orgill, as his Jamaica U-20 squad fell to a 3-0 defeat versus the United States in their opening Group A match on Friday. Orgill started and played the entire match up front for the U-20 Reggae Boyz, and despite causing the American backline many problems at Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago, the USA claimed all three points after goals by Peri Marosevic, Dilaver Duka, and William Schuler. Jamaica will look to rebound on Sunday when they meet El Salvador, who drew 2-2 with Central American rivals Honduras in their opening Group A match.

CANADA (Whitecaps players in bold)

1.Adam Street; 2.Eddy Sidra, 3.Alex Suprenant (11.Teal Bunbury 84'), 4.Nana Attakora-Gyan, 5.Adam Straith; 6.Philippe Davies, 7.Shaun Saiko (12.Brandon Bonifacio 45'), 10.Kennedy Owusu-Ansah, 14.Derek Gaudet; 9.Marcus Haber, 17.Randy Edwini-Bonsu