Sunday, May 13, 2007

Canada 1 - 2 Argentina

This was the first U20 match I've seen, so I didn't really know what to expect. But I thought it was a great game -- I was a bit surprised at how close it was -- and I'm really looking forward to the U20 World Cup now.

Argentina opened the scoring in the first half with a goal from Alejandro Gomez that had keeper Asmir Begovic rooted to the spot. Canada tied it up just five minutes later with a penalty awarded after Simeon Jackson was pushed over in the box. It looked as if the game was going to end in a tie, but Argentina finally broke the deadlock in the 88th minute, winning a disputed corner from which Gabriel Mercado scored with a header.

The scoreline was disappointing for Canada, who I think played well enough to deserve at least a draw. Although their only goal came from a penalty, they'd created quite a few good chances and contained Argentina for most of the game. They can be proud of their performance against the defending U20 world champions -- even considering that Argentina was missing quite a few key players who are still with their clubs at home and in Europe.

Argentina are definitely going to be one of the favourites for the tournament this summer. They're obviously very skilled, and they played the smooth passing game you'd expect, with lots of two-touch passing through midfield. They're also quite apt to fall over at the slightest hint of contact. Canada, in contrast, played a more, um, robust game. They're a much bigger team and they used that to their advantage. Yay for national sterotypes.

A few Canadian players who stood out for me:

  • David Edgar at centre-back. His was the only name I recognized before the game, and that's mainly because he scored against Manchester United for Newcastle. He coolly took the penalty for Canada, and kept his back line well organized throughout the game.
  • Jaime Peters on the right wing. He's got loads of pace, and good skill on the ball -- he was giving the Argentine defenders trouble all night.
  • Andrea Lombardo, the target man up front. He was very good at holding up the ball and bringing his teammates into the play; worked his butt off for 90 minutes.

The game was part of a pre-tournament cross-country tour for the Canadians. They've already played Scotland in Vancouver and Victoria; after this they play two matches against the United States (June 3 in Kingston and June 6 iin Ottawa) and then face off against the Czech Republic in Edmonton on June 18.

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