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  • Saturday, May 27, 2000

    Canada extends unbeaten soccer streak

     TORONTO (CP) -- Jeff Clarke scored early in the second half to give Canada a 1-0 victory over a lightweight Trinidad and Tobago side in an uninspiring exhibition soccer game Saturday.

     Clarke won the free kick that led to the 51st-minute goal when he was hurled to the ground as he beat a defender on the edge of the box.

     Martin Nash curled in the kick and Clarke coolly headed the ball past goalkeeper Ross Russell in a crowded penalty box.

     Clarke's goal, his first for the national team, was a welcome tonic after a sloppy first half by the Canadians. It also extended Canada's unbeaten streak under coach Holger Osieck to 12 games. Osieck is 10-3-5 at the Canadian helm.

     The game, before a sellout of 8,870 at Varsity Stadium on a sunny afternoon, meant nothing to both teams, although it allowed Osieck a chance to evaluate players such as Pat Onstad and Nick Dasovic, who are coming off injury layoffs.

     The Trinidad side was a shadow of itself with stars such as Dwight Yorke of Manchester United and Stern John of Nottingham Forrest not making the trip.

     Coach Ian Porterfield said earlier that only one or two of his starters Saturday would normally grace his first team.

     With American referee Ricardo Valenzuela blowing his whistle with annoying regularity, it made for a choppy, flat game.

     Canada leaves Monday for Winnipeg, where they play Honduras on Tuesday in another exhibition game.

     Then it's off to Havana for the June 4 first leg of a home-and-away playoff with Cuba to determine which team advances to the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region. The return match is June 11 in Winnipeg.

     Saturday's game boded well for the game in Canada. The Varsity Stadium crowd, normally there to support the visiting team, cheered the home side with great enthusiasm and Canadian team shirts and flags dotted the crowd. So did T-shirts bearing the words Holger's Heroes.

     Canada opened strongly and early on it looked like the second-string Trinidad and Tobago side might be in for a long afternoon. But for all its possession, Canada failed to convert its chances and the visitors grew in confidence -- if not in talent.

     Paul Peschisolido missed a glorious chance in the 27th minute when Kevin McKenna headed a long Nash free kick across the box. Peschisolido got to the ball before the goalkeeper but his volley was high with the goal wide open.

     Four minutes later, Peschisolido beat a defender in the corner and gave the ball to Clarke, whose accurate cross found Carlo Corazzin. But the Northampton Town striker's header was palmed over the crossbar at the last minute by Russell.

     Trinidad showed little at the other end with the exception of Gary Glasgow, a tricky forward from the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer. Glasgow gave defender Paul Fenwick fits in the first half, stripping him of the ball at one point, and sprinting 40 yards down the field with the Canadian in chase before he was finally caught before shooting.

     Osieck eventually moved Carl Fletcher across the pitch to cover Glasgow, shifting Fenwick to cover the less mobile Nigel Pierre.

     Trinidad didn't manage a shot in the first 45 minutes, which featured 24 fouls.

     Notes: Calgary defender Kevin McKenna, a member of the under-23 team, won his first cap with the senior side .... Eight of the Canadian starters play in Europe. The only domestic players were Jeff Clarke, Carl Fletcher and Martin Nash. ... Jason deVos, Lars Hirschfeld and Tony Menezes did not dress for Canada. In the absence of deVos, Paul Peschisolido captained the team ... Canada's last loss was 2-0 to Saudi Arabia in Fullerton, Calif., on July 9, 1999.



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