ALSO ON SLAM!
Wednesday, May 24, 2000
Onstad on call
Will replace Forrest in net
Pat Onstad wants his teammates to keep the faith when he plays in goal for Canada.
The 33-year-old Vancouver native, coming off recent knee surgery, is scheduled to replace injured Gold Cup MVP keeper Craig Forrest in the national soccer team's next four games.
Two of those matches are do-or-die World Cup qualifiers against Cuba next month. Canada also plays exhibition games against Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday at Varsity Stadium and against Honduras on Tuesday at Winnipeg.
Onstad, who has 23 international appearances for Canada, did not play a game this past season for his Scottish Premier club Dundee United because of his injury.
But he is confident Canada won't skip a beat in the coming weeks with him guarding the net instead of Forrest, who is recovering from a hernia operation.
"The knee is actually really good," Onstad said yesterday after the first day of the Canadian team's week-long training camp in Alliston. "I came here to play. I am not doing all of this training to sit on the bench."
When Canada turned the soccer world on its head in February when it won the prestigious Gold Cup with victories over Mexico, Trinidad and Colombia, Forrest was brilliant in goal and was awarded the tournament's top player award.
But with Forrest out of action for the foreseeable future, national team coach Holger Osieck called upon Onstad to offer his veteran services.
Osieck tested Onstad yesterday in a two-hour workout and was pleased with what he saw.
"He is pain free, which is good," Osieck said. "We will have a better idea as the week goes on."
As a security measure, Osieck has called in Olympic-team keepers Mike Franks and Lars Hirschfeld in case Onstad isn't fit enough to play on Saturday.
The coming few weeks are critical for Canada as it attempts to qualify for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.
The two exhibition matches will provide a solid test for what awaits the national team in Football Confederation (formerly CONCACAF) qualifying. In the qualifiers against Cuba, June 4 at Havana and June 11 at Winnipeg, Canada needs to win the home-and-home series in order to advance to the semi-final round of qualifying.
CPSL KICKS OFF: The Canadian Professional Soccer League starts its 2000 season when Toronto Croatia plays host to the Toronto Olympians in a rematch of last year's championship game tonight at Etobicoke Centennial Stadium starting at 8 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Olympians have announced the signing of forward Rick Titus.