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The Canadian Disgrace

Now cracks Canada's noble heart. Good night sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Paul GIamou/Canadian Soccer Association

I showed up to work an hour and a half early today so I could take a long lunch, watch Canada play Honduras at San Pedro Sula. If Canada drew or better, they'd advance to the hex. If not, well...

I'm a pessimist by nature but I felt hope. Honduras isn't nearly what they were four years ago; a battered team of has-beens and never-weres. As for Canada, they're quite poor, I would never have bet on them sneaking into the top three if they did advance to the hex, but the defense has been good enough lately and there was just enough talent on the pitch that a 1-1 draw seemed reasonable. I'm going to be honest, even in hindsight. I thought Canada would probably do it.

Instead, Canada disgraced themselves with, and I say this without fear of hyperbole or contradiction, the worst day in their history. An 8-1 loss, the sole consolation by almost-forgotten bench player Iain Hume off a stunning free kick when the game was already lost. I use the word "disgrace" guardedly, since I know in most cases the players worked as hard as they could and are even more devastated than the fans. In this case, it is entirely appropriate.

I'm broken. I am furious, and I am shattered with grief; as low as sports can ever make any human feel. I'm angry because we were promised so much more. We were told that every game had to go to BMO Field because it's what the players wanted, and the players lost 8-1. We were told that every game had to go to BMO Field because it would build up the fan base, and attendance was thousands below 2008 levels. We were told that every game had to go to BMO Field because it would get us through, and it didn't.

You in Toronto will be angry with me for saying this, but frankly if you want to leave an irate comment then fuck you, because the rest of us, we 80% of the country who raged against a Canadian Soccer Association that had abandoned its responsibilities, were told that in exchange for sacrifice we'd receive victory. Canada had been handed the best chance to advance to the hex in its history and anyone outside of Toronto was to be denied a chance to witness it, but constantly we were said that it was worth it if Canada won, that losing the country was to the benefit of the team, that it would push us over that small hump into the final six and 8-1. We lost 8-1 for you. That was our reward. After two years of nothing but abuse for 80% of Canada, that was the final insult. That was the condolence we received for the betrayal inflicted upon us. Rather than a chance at the World Cup, we got the worst game Canada has ever played. The individual fans in Toronto I can have no complaints about, and if you stood in that Voyageurs section then you, as a supporter, are immune to criticism. But the whole Toronto concept was a hateful thing that failed utterly and tore Canada to pieces in the process. If you're angry at me for bringing that up then go suck dicks at one of a hundred Toronto websites because you are not welcome here. If you don't understand why I'm so furious and so heartbroken because of that, then you don't understand anything.

That was probably the last meaningful game for a few of the Canadian players. Some, like Kevin McKenna pictured here, deserved better. It is almost a dead certainty that McKenna will retire without ever playing in the World Cup, but seldom has a country had a more loyal or more skillful stalwart in their back four. He deserved better. Julian de Guzman, who will be 34 when the next cycle begins and already doesn't belong on this team by merit, does not and we will be well rid of him whenever the axe falls, which I pray will be soon. That may have been the last chance for Lars Hirschfeld, 33 but going strong; I suspect he has some life for his country yet. Likewise Michael Klukowski, who is 31 and fading fast, fallen into the Cypriot league, hoping for a turnaround. He may also be finished, and yet for a few glorious years he was the best left back in CONCACAF.

As for the coach, who was all-but composing his resignation letter on the air after the game? Stephen Hart is a fine gentleman who was given a job he was never qualified for and did his best, always with a positive attitude and a kind word. He is an excellent human being and I hope he lives a long, prosperous life after coaching, but his inevitable sacking will be a mercy killing. Prior to the Canadian national program, his highest level of coaching expertise was with Halifax King of Donair. What a pity he was thrown into jobs he wasn't ready for, because a great gentleman like that deserves better than a penny-pinching old-boys club at the CSA gave him. Hart said he doesn't think the fans will forgive him. I forgive him, even as I want him gone, because I know it wasn't his fault.

I will do something almost unprecedented in this space: I will lend a kind word to Dwayne De Rosario. I have wanted him off the team for years. I thought his selfish behaviour on multiple occasions with both Canada and Toronto was too easily forgiven by desperate fans dazzled by an obvious club talent who never achieved for his country. His tweet after the game today, where he apologized to Canadian fans because he wasn't able to come save us[1], was the very height of oh-so-typical egotism. But now he will never play in a World Cup, and the team he wanted to lead to triumph failed in disgrace without him being on the field. If you don't feel bad for De Rosario, you're not human.

I feel sorry for us all, really. Canada didn't deserve to exploit this trivially easy path to the hex... and they didn't. The rest is silence.

[1] — De Rosario, Dwayne. "Extremely gutted. Sorry to all our proud supporters I wasn't able to play in today's match. Please continue to support #canMNT 4 the future". Via Twitter, October 16, 2012. Accessed October 16, 2012.