ALSO ON SLAM!
Thursday, May 25, 2000
Friendly mood prior to Canada-Trinidad gameTORONTO (CP) -- Saturday's soccer game between Canada and Trinidad and Tobago is considered a friendly and the two coaches couldn't have been more cordial at lunch Thursday.
Trinidad coach Ian Porterfield apologized in a Scottish burr for bringing a second-string squad. Canadian coach Holger Osieck, a native of Germany, lauded the menu, welcomed the opposition and praised the strength of Porterfield's reserves.
The only things missing were hugs, an exchange of phone numbers and a toast.
The two could afford to be magnanimous because Saturday's contest at Varsity Stadium (CTV Sportsnet, 4 p.m. EDT) is little more than a scrimmage. It also marks the final instalment of a deal between the two federations that saw the two teams play in Port-of-Spain in January before the Gold Cup.
Both coaches are looking past Saturday to matches that really mean something.
Osieck is using the Trinidad game, and another exhibition against Honduras in Winnipeg next Tuesday, to help some players improve their fitness after extended layoffs.
His eyes are on a home-and-away playoff series against Cuba on June 4 and 11 that will determine which team stays alive in World Cup qualifying.
Porterfield, whose team has already booked its ticket to the next round of qualifying, is awaiting a July match against the winner of Canada-Cuba that signals the start of the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region.
So he didn't bother summoning his European-based players for the Canadian game and the shrimp and pasta combo that preceded it.
Asked how many of his travelling squad would be considered for the first team, Porterfield replied "one or two." Another four or five have seen action as substitutes, he added.
That means no Dwight Yorke, the $28-million striker from Manchester United. Also missing in action are Russell Latapy (Hibernian, Scotland), Clayton Ince (Crewe Alexander, England), Anthony Rougier (Port Vale, England), Stern John (Nottingham Forest, England) and Jerren Nixon (FC Zurich, Switzerland).
The only overseas players available are Gary Glasgow, who has played 51 minutes for the Kansas City Wizards in the MLS this season, Travis Mulraine, who has appeared in four of the San Jose Earthquakes' 11 games, and Avery John, who plays for Bohemians FC in Ireland.
Two others, Carlos Edwards and Hector Sam, have just signed with English Second Division team Wrexham.
On the Canadian side, Osieck will rest captain Jason deVos while the injured Jim Brennan and Mark Watson watch from the sidelines. Goalkeeper Pat Onstad and midfielder Nick Dasovic will get a chance to play after lengthy injury layoffs, however.
Striker Carlo Corazzin, whose contract has expired at Northampton Town in England, is healthy but saw little action in the final games of the season.
Even a few weeks break takes its toll on fitness at this level and Osieck has been working his players hard in practice.
"After what I've seen in training and after what I've seen in Cuba-Barbados, they (the Cubans) are in a playing rhythm already and we have to get back (into one). I definitely need those two (exhibition) games," he said.