CSA & Whitecaps FC
Canada's U-23 men's side suffered a 2-1 defeat to Haiti U-23's in their second Group B match at the CONCACAF Olympic qualification tournament on Friday.
Things looked bright in the early stages after Tyler Rosenlund had deservedly given Canada a one-goal lead. However, as Nick Dasovic's side started to tire in the second half, a controversial equalizer by substitute Alain Gustave on 72 minutes set up Leonel Saint-Preux to strike home a fortunate winner past Canadian goalkeeper Joshua Wagenaar with six minutes remaining.
After claiming a creditable 1-1 draw with Mexico in their first game on Wednesday, Canada were in confident mood at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California. They should have taken the lead when Hall was put in free on goal, but the Syracuse University man failed to connect properly with his shot, as the ball rolled across the face of Haiti's goal.
Hall would make amends on 17 minutes when his run and cutback from the right found Rosenlund, and the Burnaby, BC, native struck a first-time finish past Haiti goalkeeper Johnny Placide for a 1-0 halftime lead.
Where the Haitians looked far from dangerous in the first half, the second half saw the Caribbean nation come into the contest after the restart with some early chances, while Andrzej Ornoch was unlucky not to extend Canada's lead when his strike from the top of the Haiti box was deflected on to the crossbar by Placide.
The turning point of the match came on 72 minutes when Gustave struck home a fine volley past Wagenaar from the edge of the Canadian box. The controversy surrounding the goal came when Haiti kept possession of a throw-in that had been conceded by Hall following an injury to Canadian teammate Nikolas Ledgerwood. Haiti's decision not to sportingly give the ball back to Canada brought about their goal. "We had an injured man down, so I think we were a bit naive on the play," says Dasovic of Haiti's tactics.
Gustave's goal brought the game to life, but as Canada struggled to keep possession, they were hit with a sucker punch. Saint-Preux's mis-hit cross from the right flew over the head of Wagenaar and into the far corner of the goal. The strike was reminiscent of Ronaldinho's free kick that beat former England goalkeeper David Seaman in the 2002 World Cup finals.
Canada tried to press for the equalizer in the dying stages, with Ornoch having strong claims for a penalty after being pulled down in the Haiti box by Lescinel Jean-Francois, but the referee waved away Canadian appeals. The result leaves Canada needing victory against Guatemala on Sunday to have any hope of reaching next Thursday's semifinals in Nashville, Tennessee. "We had a good start to the game itself," Dasovic told CanadaSoccer.com. "I thought we were on our way to a minimum one point. Our legs went away in the second half again, though. We ran out of gas. It wasn't a matter of the tactical, it was a matter of the physical."
Guatemala, meanwhile, booked their place in the semis with a shock 2-1 victory over less than impressive Mexico side in Friday's second game at The Home Depot Center.
Canada U-23 men (Whitecaps & BC players in bold)
18-Joshua Wagenaar; 4-Dejan Jakovic, 5-Andre Hainault, 6-Nikolas Ledgerwood, 12-Diaz Kambere; 13-Kyle Hall, 3-Jacob Lensky (11-Tosaint Ricketts 46'), 15-Tyler Rosenlund (9-Andrew Lombardo 86'), 16-Keegan Ayre, 14-Tyler Hemming (8-Ryan Gyaki); 7-Andrzej Ornoch
1-Johnny Placide; 4-Alain Vubert, 3-Parnel Guerrier, 9-Leonel Saint-Preux, 20-Judelin Aveska; 6-Lescinel Jean-Francois, 10-Sony Norde (8-Fritzson Jean-Baptiste 78'), 12-James Marcelin (14-Jacqueson Jean 53'), 15-Ednerson Raymond; 19-Bidrece Azor (13-Alain Gustave 33'), 11-Fabrice Noel